Monday, October 6, 2008

The Lion Brewery Oktoberfest

S and I and a cast of epic proportions thoroughly enjoyed ourselves at the Lion Brewery's Oktoberfest Saturday night in Wilkes-Barre.

We drove down from Mountain Top, parked at Mohegan Sun and took the shuttle bus over to the brewery about 10 minutes away. We got there around five and walked out of the bus to the accompaniment the mid-Autumn Sun's fanfare and the first thing I noticed different from last year was the layout of the grounds that were rearranged in a more open and spacious manner. There was a huge tent in the center of the grounds to the east of the brewery that was packed with people enjoying Brats, Clams, Pulled Pork sandwiches, pizza, felafel's, potato cakes, haluski, and of course beer. Around the perimeter of the grounds were the beer tents and the food stands. At the southernmost end was the band shell where the bands were performing, and in front of that was a large open area where the mob could gather to enjoy the music. There was a strolling accordion player resplendent in his authentic alpine German entertainer's garb, enchanting and delighting the crowd, adults included. It's nice to see that the Accordian is still getting its due! To the northeast were the carnival rides which included a ferris wheel, swinging chairs, and more, making this an Oktoberfest like the one in Munchen and one that everyone could enjoy. Last year, everything seemed to be crammed into half the space, and everyone I ran into seemed to enjoy the extra space and thoughtful layout changes.

Most of the beer tents were serving the Stegmaier Oktoberfest and the Stegmaier Midsummer White. But down at the Northern end, was another tent serving some of the Pocono beers of which I had never tried any. When I saw the Pocono Pale Ale, I had to try it, and let me tell you that that was my go-to brew for the night. She was a wonderfully balanced malt-hop beauty, a bit top-heavy if you know what I mean, and with a copper-toned blush about her once the wind blew her dirty blond hair aside. To my nose she smelled of the mountains and to my taste, sweet goodness with a nice bit of Cascade hop. An excellent beer that I'll be going back to again.

As late afternoon made way to crisp early-evening, a four-piece band that goes by the name of The Five Percent was on stage. They played a lot of covers well and did a nice version of Wonderwall. I may be wrong but I seem to remember them closing Friday night last year. Later, I discovered that they also create original music but I didn't detect anything original in their set on Saturday. They were followed by 40 lb Head who, let me tell you, can ignite a crowd. They got my attention when the lead singer urged the crowd to join in as the band launched into Blitzkrieg Bop and I Wanna be Sedated. I joined in with the Hey, Ho, Let's Go chorus and started to hop around a bit--it was the beer hopping at this point, I here to tell ya. Sadly, they didn't play the songs fast enough or with enough chain saw edginess--I guess there will only ever be one Ramones. Sigh.

When we arrived there were maybe a thousand revelers enjoying themselves. There were singles, couples, families, throngs hourdes and groups of friends of all persuasions partaking in this most German of celebrations. When we left there were proably twice that and a long queue of partiers waiting to get in.

We missed C, L, and D who got there just as we were leaving, but we did manage to bump into a former coworker of S's, Kathy and her husband Joe from Hometown, and we caught up with them all the while enjoying the atmospherics.

Kudos to whomever arranged the shuttle buses, as the bus stop was easy to find on the Mohegan Sun property due to the profuse signage, the buses were running very regularly (probably every 15 minutes), and the bus left us off right at the brewery entrance.

The thing that strikes me about Oktoberfest is that there's nothing quite like it. That is, there's no similar event I know of, where families and friends can get together, have fun, and enjoy good food, fun, music, and beer. Thank you Lion Brewery!

1 comment:

John P. said...

Sorry I missed it this year. Chris invited me the last minute and I already had other plans. I'm craving Brats and Saurkraut or Haluski now. So you finally got to try the Pocono Stuff? I've always enjoyed it.

Dad and I had some more Flying Dog this weekend. I get the Sampler. In Heat Wheat, Dogtoberfest, The IPA one, and a few others. Not bad at all.