This past weekend Grimm Brothers Brewhouse hosted the Loveland Oktoberfest. Festivities kicked off on Thursday night with a Barbarian Dinner consisting of assorted meats, vegetables, and beers where the only utensil available was a knife. Friday afternoon was when the official event started and continued on through Saturday.
For those unfamiliar with the award-winning Grimm Brothers, the majority of their beers are German-inspired: from traditional styles like Dunkels and Hefeweizens to those that have been lost to history. They also branch out into some different styles like American lagers and pale ales, English porters and browns, Irish stouts, and Belgian browns. Their catchy labels callback to the classic folk tales.
I decided to check things out on Saturday. Earlier in the day, it seemed like fall was officially here. It was quite chillier than the previous mornings, and the sky was much grayer. Although it had rained in the morning hours the forecast only called for clouds and temperatures in the 60s. Seemed like a nice respite.
Nestled in the Denver Avenue Commercial Park with other businesses is Grimm Brothers Brewhouse. I was a little underwhelmed when I first arrived. There were a couple of tents set up for vendors, an empty bandstand, a mostly empty beer tent, and an area for cornhole. But that would soon change.
After getting some tokens that I could exchange for beers, I headed off to my first tent. A beer tent. While the brewhouse was open this tent offered many offerings from local Loveland breweries: Grimm Brothers (a given), Big Beaver, Crow Hop, Loveland Aleworks, Verboten, Buckhorn, and Big Thompson. Most of the beers on tap were an Oktoberfest/Märzen style. There was also another lager and a pale ale on the menu. I went with Farmer’s Daughter from Grimm Brothers.
Mind you, this was an all-ages event with plenty of kids running about and friendly dogs wagging their tales. There were numerous attendees, across a wide range of ages, dressed in their best Oktoberfest attire. There were also several people who brought their own steins to be filled.
I went to check out some of the other tents. There was one for the Colorado Candy Company in Fort Collins (they had samples of their various peanut brittles, ribbon candy, popcorn, and spinning fresh cotton candy), a tent for a nail game where you hit an opponents nail into a log (Germans and their sense of fun), two tents with tasty German food delicacies to stuff into your mouth hole, and a face-painting station for the kids. I must say that the artist doing the face-painting was killing it. This wasn’t some run of the mill face-painting. Watching the artist was pretty amazing. She was fast and efficient creating complex designs with each brush stroke. There was one cool, little dude wearing lederhosen with his face all done up like a zombie. I thought about taking his picture, but that might’ve come off as creepy.
While I was enjoying the malty caramel spiciness of Farmer’s Daughter and watching a few games of Cornhole. Then it hit. Live polka music was coming from the stage. Neue Polka of Fort Collins brought a liveliness to the event with their renditions of German folk and polka classics like “Toxic” by Britney Spears. By then the sun had really started to shine, but it was still really comfortable weather. After trying Big Beaver’s Oktoberfest (which was lighter in flavor and mouthfeel, and had a slight piney quality to it) I made my way into the brewhouse.
The action in the brewhouse was stirring and the line was much longer than the one outside. The selection was all Grimm Brothers and it was ample. The Baron, a Berliner Weisse, caught my eye. As with German tradition, they had a list of syrups that could be added. I picked blackberry, and, boy, it was delicious. The sweetness was well-balanced with the tartness, even though there might have been a tad too much syrup. The long tables were full of customers socializing or watching college football on the screens. I checked out some of the barrels that the brewery has for their barrel aging program.
It was getting time to get some grub, and a soft pretzel seemed like an appropriate snack. More and more people were milling about. The beer tent was near capacity. The band was interacting with the audience. Little kids were dancing to the music. Everyone seemed to be having a relaxing and entertaining time.
And it wouldn’t be an Oktoberfest without a best-dressed contest for those who came in their dirndl and lederhosen.
I capped my afternoon off with Midnight Strikes, a Schwarzbier, at one of the tables in the brewhouse. The black lager had the dark chocolate and roasted coffee notes I expected on the nose and taste with a touch of sweetness. Overall a good beer to take in as I watched line for beer flow like an ocean wave, and the dogs as they rested on the floor only to raise their head as some feet passed by or sniff out some food.
The Loveland Oktoberfest is smaller than I was expecting, yet the size of it makes for a good family outing. If you missed it this year you can always go to Grimm Brothers all year long for some really well made German-inspired beers. I’d like to check out the Barbarian Dinner next year if they have it, and possibly see how the crowd is like towards the later hours.