Beers as Big as Your Head
Oompah bands and lederhosen are nice, but nothing says Oktoberfest like a huge glass mug of beer. Known as a mass (short for a mass krug) or a seidel, these weighty vessels hold one liter of beer -- that's almost 34 ounces, or more than two pints.
Oktoberfest beers have proliferated in the last decade, with large brewers like Samuel Adams joining local brewpubs and smaller producers in turning out seasonal beers. And while a dry, malty German beer is always welcome, there's something more entertaining about drinking it from a glass larger than your head.
Sadly, not every bar gives you the pleasure of ordering a mass during Oktoberfest. Here are a few that do.
Take advantage of the lovely fall weather and head for the patio outside this Capitol Hill restaurant -- the inside is rather dreary. The bar is pouring a traditional beer from Munich's Hofbrauhaus this month ($13 for a mass, or $7 for a half liter) as well as a full Oktoberfest menu, which includes a sausage platter and Eisbein -- a traditional Bavarian dish of grilled pig's knuckles.
One of the only bars to serve drafts in mass glasses year round, Cafe Mozart currently offers two Hofbrauhaus beers; in addition to the Oktoberfest, there's a dark, crisp Hofbrau Dunkel. Even better: a mass of the Dunkel is $9.95 at happy hour, which runs from 4 to 7 daily and until 9 on Tuesdays. (They have half-liter mass glasses, too, which are $4.95.) The Oktoberfest isn't on special, but that may change.
Brewer Jason Oliver boasts that the experience at Gordon Biersch is so authentic, "even the glasses are made in Germany." Well, the marble columns in the brewpub's historic building are far from a Munich beer tent, but Oliver's beers are brewed according to Germany's strict Rheinheitsgebot purity law, which says beers can only be made with water, hops, malt and yeast. A mass of his unfiltered Festbier, which is a little drier than the Hofbrauhas version, sells for $10.50. Half liters are $5.25. Gordon Biersch also offers Marzen, a darker and slightly stronger beer that's traditionally served at Oktoberfest, for $9.50 per mass.
Washington's oldest German restaurant, Old Europe offers celebrates Oktoberfest with live music (Thursday to Sunday), a seasonal menu heavy on pork, beef and sausages, and plenty of Hofbrauhaus beer. Liters cost $11.50, and the beer can also be serve in half-liter ($5.95) and one-third liter ($4.25) sizes.
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