That said, the coronavirus pandemic has canceled the traditional festival in Munich, which was to begin this weekend, as well as some of the D.C. area’s most popular annual events. Lovettsville’s long-running, townwide Oktoberfest has been postponed until 2021, and the Frederick Oktoberfest has been converted into an at-home event, with to-go meals and mixed six-packs of local beers sold to benefit charity.
Some spacious beer gardens, breweries and restaurants are forging ahead, albeit with reduced capacities and streamlined entertainment. Here’s where you can find a giant mug of beer or some roast pig over the next few weeks.
Biergarten Haus: With 40 tables under chestnut trees and at a rooftop bar, and room for 200 revelers, Biergarten Haus is popular year-round. Its month-long Oktoberfest celebration, which kicks off Saturday, features a selection of seasonal German beers from Weihenstephaner, Hacker-Pschorr and Hofbrau, served in large one-liter mugs, and rotating food specials every weekend. (First up: a platter with Schweinshaxe, or roasted pork knuckle, two sides and a half-liter of Oktoberfest beer, for $30.) Mondays have been designated “Munich Mondays,” with $7 half-liters of festbiers from open to close.
There are some notable changes: There won’t be live music or dancing on weekends, with bands replaced by a soundtrack of upbeat party hits. And in a stark departure from pre-covid days, groups can call or email Biergarten Haus to request reservations (previously, only parties of 15 or more could call to reserve tables). Co-owner Aaron McGovern says the Biergarten will save a number of tables for walk-ins. 1355 H St. NE.
The Brig: Though the Brig could hold around 400 people before the coronavirus restricted its capacity, its location at the bottom of Barracks Row is enough off the beaten path that it felt like a neighborhood spot instead of a destination, except on Nationals game days. (Remember those?) But now, the Brig’s best qualities — welcoming to kids and dogs, plenty of long, shaded biergarten-style tables, outdoor TVs, a variety of easy-drinking beers on tap — are what everyone is looking for.
General manager Ryan Roller says the Brig will be rotating marzens from German breweries on its two dozen taps over the next few weeks, as well as American craft Oktoberfests, and offering a platter of German-style sausages and sides. Reservations are only taken for groups of six; everything else is first-come, first-seated. 1007 Eighth St. SE.
Cafe Berlin: The Capitol Hill institution marks its 36th Oktoberfest this year, and while capacity has been reduced to 40 percent, there are still parties planned from Sept. 26 to Oct. 25. The main attraction are the pig roasts on Sept. 26, Oct. 10 and Oct. 24: A $55 ticket includes spit-roasted pig, sides and a liter of beer. The restaurant has a special seasonal menu and five Oktoberfest beers available for dining on its patio, and if you’d rather dine at home, every Sunday features a special three-course family-style meal for two for $60. 322 Massachusetts Ave. NE.
Doener Bistro: The Leesburg restaurant, famous for its doner kebabs, currywurst and German snack food, is stretching its annual Oktoberfest weekend into four parties full of live German music and traditional food and beer, held in the cozy beer garden. The first, on Sunday, has sold out, but tickets for the next three — held on Oct. 4, 17 and 18 — go on sale on Monday. Prices start at $60 for a table for four and $100 for a table for six, which include one-liter steins filled with Oktoberfest beers. (Drafts include Germany’s Dinkelacker, Tucher and Hofstetten.) Platters of wursts, pretzels and smoked pork are $25. The band Lost Lederhosen performs from 2 to 5 p.m. each day. 13 C Fairfax St. SE, Leesburg.
Hops N Shine: With 52 taps and a patio full of umbrella-shaded picnic tables, Del Ray’s Hops N Shine is a natural place to celebrate Oktoberfest. The bar is tapping at least 10 Oktoberfest-style beers from German and local breweries, says partner C.J. Cross, and hosting a mix of in-person and virtual events over the next few weeks. Saturday is the Kickoff to Oktoberfest, where a $100 ticket reserves a table for up to six people for three hours, and includes 10 pints of beer and five food tickets.
On Sept. 26, the Virtual Oktoberfest includes a guided Zoom tasting of 12 seasonal beers from six breweries, including Germany’s Tucher and Maryland’s Flying Dog, as well as live music. (The beers and food will be available to pick up at Hops N Shine.) Sept. 27 is Puptoberfest, a day featuring rescue dogs from Project Second Chance, local pet vendors, and a dog costume contest. 3410 Mount Vernon Ave., Alexandria.
Silver Branch Brewing: The Silver Spring brewery is known for its well-made takes on classic European styles, such as Pilseners and saisons, and its classic, bready Oktoberfest Marzen is the reason to head to the large beer garden, which fills an office building’s courtyard. The $20 Oktoberfest Passport includes a reservation with a liter of beer and a bratwurst platter. The beer garden opens at noon through Sunday; a “lederhosen and dirndl fashion contest” is held at 5 and 7 p.m. on Saturday, and specials on Jagermeister run all night Friday. 8401 Colesville Rd. (entrance on Second Avenue), Silver Spring.
Wunder Garten: Wunder Garten is stretching Oktoberfest to cover five weekends this year, instead of the usual two-weekend celebration. Part of this, organizers say, is because of social distancing: Occupancy has been reduced to “250 to 300 people at any given time” in the vast NoMa beer garden. There are 57 tables available on a first-come, first-seated basis, which can each hold six people, as well as six-person cabanas, which can be rented for a fee ranging from $75 to $250. (Admission is free otherwise.)
Weekend schedules include live music and DJs, as well as theme nights: pig roasts with Federalist Pig every Friday; a “Bavarian Olympics” with stein-holding contests and other games on Saturdays; and a pup-friendly “Dogtoberfest” on Sunday afternoons. The tap list features German staples, such as Hofbrau and Spaten, alongside American craft versions, including Port City and Great Lakes. 1101 First St. NE.