Fest Season is Here!

September in New England is arguably the best month of the year. The weather is reasonable on both ends of the spectrum: you can get the joy of cool (not chilly) mornings with the promise of sun and pleasant warmth in the afternoon. Rain doesn’t lead to humidity. At night, you can sleep with the window open and a blanket on. You can enjoy the outdoors without fear of sweating through your tee shirt. 

The kids are back in school. Football is on the television again. Winter is coming, but not for a few more months, and between now and then, there are the promises of holidays and foodfests and time with family. And with it comes a surge in beer-related events that many refer to simply as ‘fest season.’ 

Traditionally speaking, many of these events are inspired by Oktoberfest, the Munich super-party that runs the last two weeks of September into early October every year and features everything from pretzel necklaces to lederhosen to giant steins of lagerbier. Sigh. One day. 

Since so many brewers pay homage to German-style beers, it’s only fitting that, for those of us that don’t get to cross the pond once a year, there are options to attend a local version of Oktoberfest. It makes sense, too. September and October make for comfortable al fresco beer-drinking weather and, typically, mark the slow return of comfort food.  

This year, I took stock of the volume of Oktoberfest events and noticed that a few of them are starting earlier than usual (KYC client, Idle Hands, has its event planned for this Saturday, September 14). The decision to ‘start the party early’ isn’t exclusive to Idle. Naukabout Brewing, for example, had its Nauktoberfest over Labor Day weekend. Starting early is, in my opinion, a very smart move.

 As I’ve often noted, the Massachusetts beer scene is starting to get a bit crowded. With everyone vying for ways to get people into the taproom (events being one of the major initiatives), you can imagine that some of the weekends in September are filled to the brim with offerings, and beer-lovers will be forced to make some decisions about which fest they want to attend over others.  

A cursory glance at the index of Massachusetts Oktoberfests provided by the MassBrewBros will leave you feeling either daunted by how best to fill your calendar, or decidedly uncool for having no plans to attend anything on the uber-crowded weekends of September 21 and 28. And this doesn’t take into account any anniversary parties (Exhibit A celebrated three years last Saturday) or other crowd-drawing taproom events that breweries have planned. 

One thing is clear: people love fall events, and more breweries are getting into the fest season space (Trillium Brewing is planning its Oktoberfest at three locations this year). I’ll be hoisting my first of many steins at Idle Hands this weekend. Where will you be?