Penticton will celebrate the traditions of Oktoberfest during the 2015 celebration at the Penticton Trade and Convention Centre.
Taking pride in the product is a prerequisite for Oktoberfest breweries. After a certain point in a small businesses growth, it’s difficult to maintain its local charm, but Oktoberfest celebrations aim to source out the few European breweries that propelled themselves onto the world stage without giving up family ownership. In deciding the beers to be featured at this year’s event, organizers followed the traditional standards as close as possible.
“Erdinger has existed for over 150 years, Stiegl has been around since 1492,” said Flavia Aarden-Kilger, beverage facilitator for Penticton Oktoberfest. “They’re all family owned – staying close to that tradition is what Oktoberfest’s are all about.”
For most flavours brewed by Erdinger and Stiegl, ingredients are all grown within 100 kilometres of their brewery, Aarden-Kilger said.
And in following the Bavarian purity law, only four ingredients are allowed – yeast, hops, malt and water. With the just those simple ingredients, there’s a massive range of flavour profiles.
Among the many variables, “the flavour of each beer depends where the hops are grown, the type of yeast and malt that’s used,” she said. “These are beers that are brewed in Bavaria, just outside of Munich in the town of Erding.”
Oktoberfest beers are generally made with wheat, but traditions can be warped to accommodate evolving dietary needs, and this year Mongozo will be on tap to offer a gluten-free alternative.
“It’s for celiacs so they can have a beer that actually tastes like beer,” she said, adding that people without gluten intolerance also enjoy the brew.
“Mongozo in a Guyanese dialect means ‘to your health.’”
For those who find the taste of beer to be too strong but still want to sample the authentic product, the Stiegl Radler mixes its lager half-and-half with grapefruit juice.
“Plus a little bit of orange and lemon juice to cut that bitterness of the grapefruit,” she said. “The story goes that (in 1922) a group of people were walking towards a restaurant in the mountains, and the proprietor didn’t have enough beer for the group of 20 to 30 thirsty people, but he wanted to service them. He had limited Stiegl lager so he added juice to it, and that’s how we got the Radler.”
Another sweet beverage to be served at Oktoberfest will be the Früli, which offers a strong fruit flavour.
“It is a Belgian wheat beer with 30 per cent strawberry juice and the strawberries are fermented in with the beer,” Aarden-Kilger said. “It’s all natural – it tastes fairly sweet but there are no added sugars in there.”
Aarden-Kilger said she also uses Früli to make milkshakes and for splashing into sparkling wine.
For a dark flavoured beer without too much bite, give the Erdinger Dunkel a try.
“What they do is they roast the malt a little bit longer. It’s almost black but it still has that light taste,” she said, adding that the Dunkel is bottle fermented – the same process as champaign. “It’s light in flavour – I find it’s a little bit more chocolatey; a little sweeter.”
She said all Erdinger’s at Oktoberfest will be served from kegs which are also fermented.
“So a little bit of yeast is added to the keg and you get this awesome beer.”
In addition to the wide assortment of European beer to fit the occasion, attendees have more options than imports.
“We’re always happy to be a supplier of good, local craft beer,” said Pat Dyck, co-owner of Cannery Brewing Company in Penticton.
In addition to the European beers, she said “that seems to be a winning combination.”
Dyck said the Cannery brings beers that are “lagerish” to go with Oktoberfest, but said other flavours will also be available, likely to include the Naramata Nut Brown Ale and Apricot Wheat Ale.
“We haven’t finalized the total breakdown yet, we’ll see what the organizers want.”
Since the festival is taking place in the Okanagan, the regions staple beverage – wine – will also be an option, with Wild Goose Vinyards supplying two of their products. Wild Goose Riesling 2014 is their classic recipe and is produced with grapes from 30-year-old-vines.
“Intense apple and citrus flavours accompanied by a hint of minerality and a lovely palate cleansing crispness,” it’s described on pentictonoktoberfest.ca.
They’re also service Wild Goose Merlot 2012, which was aged in both American and French oak barrels for a full year.
“Dark, rich and robust, this wine shows intense flavours of berry and black currant, finishing with beautiful vanilla and spice and lightly toasted oak,” the website says.
Oktoberfest happens on Oct. 24 at the PTCC beginning at 6 p.m. Tickets cost $35 and can be purchased through valleyfirsttix.com.