Breaking News: Oktoberfest Crackdown
If you're looking forward to sampling beers from 40 different breweries at the Capitol City Brewing Company's Oktoberfest in Shirlington tomorrow, be warned: The days of unlimited tastes are over.
For the last five years, attendees paid one price for admission and a tasting glass, and then could wander through the festival and try any beer that struck their fancy until last call. Not any more.
Earlier today, the Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control told Brewer Mike McCarthy that Cap City would not receive the licenses it needed to hold the festival if it allowed attendees to taste as many beers as they wanted.
"The ABC raked us over the coals at the 11th hour," McCarthy said in a phone call. He says he was told that each person who pays the $25 admission can have no more than 10 tastes of beer all day. Period.
McCarthy is baffled by the ruling, pointing out that patrons of last weekend's Northern Virginia Brewfest got unlimited tastings for one price, as did patrons of the Vintage Crystal wine festival in Crystal City the weekend before. He attributes the change to the arrival of a new ABC officer who's not familiar with the festival, and adds that, as in previous years, Capitol City "has the support of the police who work here. They love it."
Because Oktoberfesters will receive less beer, Capitol City has lowered the price of admission to $20, which includes those 10 tickets, and beers in the brewpub will be $2 all day.
With a finite number of opportunities to drink, though, this year's festival is going to lose the element of exploration that made it so exciting -- the chance to happen upon a beer you'd never tried before, or the decision to taste a new seasonal beer on a whim. When you've only got 10 chances, with no do-overs, you need to be more cautious with your tickets.
So I asked McCarthy to put himself in the shoes of an Oktoberfest patron. What would he spend his 10 tickets on?
"Well, I'd go to Chimay and Spaten -- they have a tent together, and I'd use a ticket on a Chimay. I'd go to Oskar Blues, because they're going to have the Ten Fidy imperial stout. I'd go to Capitol City Brewing Co (laughs), I'd hit up Troegs, because I really like their beers. I'd go to Stone Brewing, and Bell's [Brewing], and I'd definitely go to District Chophouse. [Barrett Laurer]'s beers are really good this year. Dogfish head is going, go have their Pumpkin Ale, which people love. Bear Republic, from California. And Allagash. You can't go wrong with Allagash."
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