Oktoberfest in Los Angeles has for years been an excuse for German expats to relive their faraway food and drink heritage and a chance for Americans to drink and eat large amounts of German goods in the presence of a polka band. Some of the longer-running Oktoberfest celebrations in the area (including in Orange County) have even taken on more of a club vibe as of late — scantily clad ladies, pop music DJs and beer halls full of slovenly drunks.
But this year feels different. You can still get your echt German-style celebration at the original Alpine Village and Los Angeles Oktoberfest events, but there’s also the world’s first Vegan Oktoberfest and a slew of craft beer-oriented Oktoberfests that are turning the Southland into a hotbed of stein-filled activities. Because L.A. Beer Week lands during the traditional last-week-of-September Oktoberfest starting date this year, several breweries are also hosting their own Oktoberfests for the first time, offering alternative locavore ways for you to get your schnitzel on.
Here are the top 8 L.A. Oktoberfest celebrations, in chronological order, including some making their debut this year. Prost!
WHAT: Alpine Village Oktoberfest
WHEN: Friday, Saturday and Sunday through Oct. 26; 6 p.m. – 12 a.m. Friday, 5 p.m. – 12 a.m. Saturday, 1 p.m. – 6 p.m. Sunday; ($5-$20, buy tickets here)
WHY: Alpine Village hosts the biggest and longest-running Oktoberfest party in Southern California – complete with traditional Bavarian fun, authentic German food and, of course, lots and lots of bier. This year, the Village is serving Warsteiner brews, including their Pilsner and Oktoberfest, along with Coors Light if you really feel like pooping on the party. And with a full schedule of oom-pah bands, drinking contests and on-the-hour chicken dances (hosted by lederhosen-clad Master of Ceremonies, Hans), the festivities always continue long after the restaurant has closed. Costumes are also very much encouraged.
WHERE: Apline Village, 833 W Torrance Blvd. Torrance; 310-327-2483.
WHAT: Oktoberfest at Wirtshaus
WHEN: Monday - Thursday 5 p.m.-12 a.m., Friday - Sunday 11-12 a.m.; Starting Sept. 20 through Oct. 26.
WHY: This Mid-City German restaurant and beer garden will host a full six weeks of Oktoberfest-themed fun with regularly-changing food and drink specials, Erdinger-sponsored décor and giveaways, plus live traditional German music on the weekends. Show up at the official kickoff on Saturday, Sept. 20 at 3:00 p.m., where a German celebrity guest will tap the restaurant's ceremonial Oktoberfest keg. If you're sitting down and eating a meal, you'll drink for free until the keg runs dry.
WHERE: Wirtshaus, 345 N. La Brea Ave., Los Angeles, 323-931-9291.
WHAT: Oktoberfest at Santa Anita Park
WHEN: Saturday, Sept. 27; 11 a.m. - 5 p.m. ($10-$60 for VIP packages)
WHY: The only thing better than an Oktoberfest celebration is an Oktoberfest celebration that lets you bet on the ponies at the same time. Enter, Santa Anita Park’s second annual Oktoberfest, which will again kick off opening weekend races at the historic track. Tickets range from mere entry into the beer garden and concert to a premium package that includes a t-shirt, free food from Dog Haus and access to the VIP wagering areas. Come for the steins, stay for the horses.
WHERE: Santa Anita Park, 285 W. Huntington Dr., Arcadia; 626-574-7223.
WHAT: Oktoberfest at Angel City Brewery
WHEN: Saturday, Sept. 21; 12 p.m. - 10 p.m.
WHY: For the first time, Angel City is hosting a full day of late-September Bavarian fun at it’s spacious Downtown digs. Food from Schreiner Fine Sausages, special Oktoberfest casks and a variety of Oktoberfest-themed competitions (from sauerkraut-eating contest to keg races) will be happening along with traditional brewery games like ping pong, cornhole and darts. Check out the artist’s bazaar, dance to some polka and drink your way through kegs of Angel City’s Oktoberfest seasonal release.
WHERE: Angel City Brewery, 216 S Alameda St, Los Angeles; (213) 622-1261.
WHAT: Steingarten L.A. Oktoberfest
WHEN: Thursday, Sept. 25; 6 p.m – 11 p.m.
WHY: Not so much a full-on Oktoberfest celebration, German-inspired West L.A. restaurant Steingarten is having a tap takeover with some of the best fall seasonals from the motherland, including the West Coast launch of Schoenramer Helles as well as The Duke Munich Dry Gin. Other featured beers include Schoenramer Dunkel, Saphir Bock, Gold festbier, Liechtere, Hopf helle Weisse, and Hopf Spezial Weisse. Dress in your best Oktoberfest gear and receive 10 percent off your bill.
WHERE: Steingarten LA, 10543 West Pico Blvd., Los Angeles; 310-441-0441, steingartenla.com.
WHAT: Highland Park Brewery Oktoberfest
WHEN: Saturday, Sept. 27, 12 p.m. - 4 p.m. ($30, buy tickets here)
WHY: L.A.’s newest brewery, Highland Park Brewery, will be hosting its first Oktoberfest at its home base, The Hermosillo, an escort club-turned-craft-beer-bar on York. Handmade sausages by Chef Spencer Bezaire (L&E Oyster Bar, El Condor) will be paired alongside beers from Highland Park Brewery and local friends Eagle Rock Brewery, Noble Ale Works and Craftsman Brewing. Tickets includes eight 5-ounce beer samples and a sausage plate complete with Mosaic Hop mustard and sauerkraut.
WHERE: The Hermosillo, 5125 York Blvd., Los Angeles; 323-739-6459, thehermosillo.com.
WHAT: Los Angeles Oktoberfest
WHEN: Saturday, Oct. 4 – Sunday, Oct. 5; 2 p.m. ($35-$100 for VIP packages, buy tickets here).
WHY: Bavarian dancers, a live band and strolling accordionists are all part of the entertainment offered at the Los Angeles Oktoberfest, a two-day celebration which benefits local charities. More than 50 Oktoberfest beers from more than 20 local and international breweries, traditional food and (according to the website) “the hottest buxom beer maidens” will all be on hand, plus a silent auction and stein-holding contests.
WHERE: Beverly Hills Country Club, 3084 Motor Ave., Los Angeles; 310-836-4400.
WHAT: Vegan Oktoberfest
WHEN: Saturday, Oct. 4, 1 p.m. - 6 p.m. ($45-$65 for VIP packages, buy tickets here).
WHY: It’s true: Los Angeles is now home to the world’s first vegan Oktoberfest, which though odd-sounding, will be similar to most other festive Oktoberfest celebrations — at least when you get past the meatless food. This includes live polka bands (plus a modern pop cover band), stein-lifting contests and beer maidens walking through the oceanfront festival grounds in authentic Bavarian garb. L.A.’s top vegan food trucks will all be on hand as well to help you forget that an animal-filled Oktoberfest ever existed at all.
WHERE: 2600 Barnard Way, Santa Monica.
WHAT: Oktoberfest at Wurstküche Venice
WHEN: Sundays 1 - 5 p.m. from October 5 through October 26
WHY: Wurstküche Venice is joining the Oktoberfest celebrations this year with interior decorations that will turn the spot into a replica of Spaten’s Oktoberfest tent at the Munich Festival Grounds. And every Sunday in October (starting with a traditional first-keg-tapping ceremony on October 5), in addition to the traditional German beers, sausages and Bavarian pretzels, the German Zeitgeist Band will also be performing your favorite oom pah pah tunes.
WHERE: Wurstküche Venice, 625 Lincoln Blvd., Venice, 213-687-4444.
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WHAT: Oktoberfest at Fairplex
WHEN: Friday, Saturday and Sunday from Oct.,10-26; 6 p.m. – 12 a.m. Friday, 6 p.m. – 12 a.m. a.m. Saturday, 12 p.m. – 6 p.m. Sunday; ($5, buy tickets here).
WHY: This contemporary month-long Oktoberfest lets you drink steinfulls of your favorite beer while watching some of L.A.’s best tribute bands, including Black Eyed Tease, Led Zepagain, and Rumours, the meticulously prepared Fleetwood Mac show. German-style brews from Warsteiner, Spaten, Hangar 24 and Franziskaner will be poured, along with the promise that you’ll never have to miss any of your favorite weekend sporting events since the MLB playoffs, college football and NFL will all be screened.
WHERE: Fairplex, 1101 W. McKinley Ave., Pomona; 909-865-4070.
Editor's note: This post has been changed since it was initially published, to add two more Oktoberfest events to the original list of 8. There are now 10. Cheers!