Oktoberfests abound

There are so many Oktoberfest beers that 3 Sons Dogs and Suds bottle shop in Pine dedicated three of its free Thursday night tastings to them and then added a fourth. The second is tonight, when, from 6 to 8 p.m., you can try the traditional fall offerings from Otter Creek, Stoudt's, Victory (Festbier), Weyerbacher and Hacker Pschorr, as well as the "Punkin Ale" from Dogfish Head.

Next Thursday, you can sample Oktoberfests from our own Penn Brewery, as well as Ayinger, Paulaner, Warsteiner, Flying Dog ("Dogtoberfest") and Sam Adams.

And on Oct. 5, they throw out all the stops and serve seven more -- Leinenkugel, Sly Fox, Spaten, Brooklyn, Ayinger, Stegmeier and City Fest -- with free bratwurst, weisswurst and German potato salad.

For details, visit www.3sonsdogsandsuds.com or call 724-940-7667.

Speaking of Penn, its two-weekend outdoor Oktoberfest celebration continues at its North Side brewery tomorrow through Sunday. Hours are 5 to midnight (4 to 10 p.m. Sun). For more: www.pennbrew.com or call 412-237-9402.

Other area brewers are getting in on the Oktoberfest fun, but none as much as Andrew Maxwell at John Harvard's Brew House in Wilkins. He's made not only an Oktoberfest, but also seven other German styles: a pilsner, a weizenbock, a higher alcohol "hefe and a half weizen," a kolsch, a Kulmbach region black beer, a roggenbier (rye ale), and a German chocolate stout, brewed with real German chocolate. He also may add others, including an alt and a helles with apricot.

"It's going to be like sitting in Germany," says Mr. Maxwell, who enjoyed the challenge of the timing involved in so theming almost all of his 11 taps. Heck, he might even put a German brew on the beer engine, too.

The beers will star in John Harvard's official celebration the weekend of Sept. 29-Oct. 1, which also will feature a special menu and a German band on Saturday, when the limited quantity of hefe and a half probably will be tapped (412-824-9440).

At the Church Brew Works in Lawrenceville, brewer Bryan Pearson has 90 kegs of Oktoberfest to mark the place's 10th fest, from tomorrow through Oct. 1. You can quaff it in a jumbo mug, Munich-style, in the outdoor hop garden, where the hops are ripe and ready on the 20-foot vines. There's a full menu of German specials, too, and German music on Friday and Saturday nights, and for nonbeer drinkers, a new apple cider martini (www.churchbrew.com or 412-688-8200).

At Hereford & Hops in Cranberry, brewer Jim Lieb has made an Oktoberfest that will star in the restaurant's Sept. 25-30 Oktoberfest bash (724-742-BEER or 2337).

At North Country Brewing in Slippery Rock, co-owner Bob McCafferty says they plan a month-plus of Germanic food, beers (including a "Hoot's Helluva Good Time Rocktoberfest," named for his great uncle) and other fun (www.northcountrybrewing.com or 724-794-BEER). They'll be brewing with local pumpkins soon, too.

Johnstown Brewing Co. head brewer Barrett Goddard says his pumpkin ale will be on tap in mid-October, but his Oktoberfest will be on tap soon (johnstownbrewingco.com or 1-814-536-3525).

The Sprague Farm & Brew Works in Venango, Crawford County, will party at the nearby Venango Valley Inn from 2 to 10 p.m. on Oct. 14. Brew barn co-owner Brian Sprague says they'll "see if we can light the place up!" They'll be tapping a new beer, a Scotch ale ("multiculturism at its finest," he says) named "Fighting Scotchtoberfest" (www.sleepingchainsaw.com/brew_works.htm or 1-814-398-2885).

Meanwhile, from 4 to 8 p.m. this Saturday, the original Quaker Steak & Lube in Sharon hosts its first Lubefest, featuring beers and wines from the region and beyond -- as well as spirits, fine chocolates, cheeses and cigars, plus live music, cooking demonstrations and even grape stomping -- to benefit the Mercer County Community Action Agency ($25, or $20 in advance; 724-981-WING or 9464).


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