Los Angeles! Home of the Dodgers, Lakers, Hollywood, Angels, Disneyland, Vans Open Surf Competition, Knott’s Berry Farm, Sony, Universal, Paramount, and USA’s best Oktoberfest!
It’s true – while LA languished for years as an empty desert for beer lovers and beer culture, Torrance has been holding fast to the good life with a month-and-a-half-long Oktoberfest, which dating back to 1968, a whopping 47 years. This local gem has seven weekends of German beer, giant steins, Bavarian dancing, bratwurst, craft beer, miniskirts, beards, plaid, lace, Oom Pah Pah big bands from Germany, sing-a-longs, yodeling competitions, and will be packed with more than 100,000 visitors over the course of this year’s celebration! The party is so epic and so long (and so family friendly on Sundays) it’s been nominated by USA Today as one of the top 10 Oktoberfests across the entire United States.
Located southwest of the 110 and 405 interchange, the Alpine Village features the Alpine Steinhaus, the Alpine Market, the Alpine Bakery, an import-shop dedicated to authentic German food, and the Alpine Cafe and Deli. Are you a planner? Skate out the village before the fest beings, and here’s what you’ll find…
The Alpine Steinhaus is a European-styled tavern naturally featuring craft beer, artisanal sausages made in-house, and a tasteful combination of European and American dishes. Their Oktoberfest party-spirit invades the menu, complete with an all you can eat beer/champagne buffet, waffle bar, bratwurst, potato pancakes, wienerschnitzel, goulash, and sauerkraut. There is nearly always live entertainment, and televised German Soccer Matches! How could you go wrong? I’m not nearly done, because happy hour last from 3-7 pm and features the best in West-Coast craft ale and German bier – if you’re an Angeleno, you’ll understand how mind-blowing this list is, when far too many places give a half-pint bud or stella in the afternoon. If you’re a beer lover, get ready to feel weak in the knees, because here’s the heros of the Alpine Steinhaus happy hour: Binding Schöfferhofer Grapefruit Radler, Brasserie Dupont Ave Les Bons Voeux Saison, Einstök Arctic Berry Ale Witbier, Goose Island, Krombacher Weizen Hefeweizen, Ninkasi ImperiALE Imperial Stout,, Ölvisholt Lava Smoked Imperial Stout, Paulaner, Original Munich Helles Lager, Stone RuinTen Triple IPA, Twisted Manzanita Rustic Horizon Red Ale, and Warsteiner Premium Dunkel, to name a few. Pardon me while I take a sip.
The Alpine Village only gets better the more you explore – they’ve got the teeth and the knowledge to throw a killer Oktoberfest and it’s on display year-round. The next example, the Alpine Cafe and Deli, was Voted “Best German Deli” by Los Angeles Magazine. They make their food with the freshly imported products you can buy in the import Alpine Market, ranging Bratwurst with Rotkohl to Schweinebraten, Gulasch, and Schweinshaxe. The deli’s old fashioned meat counter offers authentic European homemade sausages, cold cuts, cheese, Bratwurst, Polish Sausage, Wienerwurst, Liverwurst Pate, Biershinken, Laber Kase, Salamis, Sauerbraten, Alpine Ham, Black Forest Ham, Head Cheese and a simply ridiculous amount of more and more meat.
If that’s not filling enough or you’ve left your meat appetite at home in the midwest with your cousins Bill and Bob, the Alpine Bakery and Alpine Butcher is your pleasure house of of addictive German happiness. They make it all – cakes, pastries, and breads, with emphasis on German and European styles, naturally. Traditional pumpernickel, kommis, vollkorn, hefezopf, and alpine rolls fill out the expected offerings, while German chocolate, hazelnut, black forest, cardamon, cream puff, marzipan, cheese danishes, rum balls, granatas, and nusseken draw you in for the kill. The badass butchers work just as hard, stuffing 10,000 pounds of authentic German sausages every week, including over 30 varieties of award-winning (that’s right) artisan, European, and German sausages, ranging Nurnberger German Bratwurst to Smoked Polish Kielbasa Sausage, and Bavarian Weisswurst to Hungarian Debreceni and Gyulai. Legit.
Before you wrap your preemptive fest research, seriously stop by the Alpine Market Bottleshop for some instant take-home food-joy, including the seasonal Oktoberfest brews arriving from Germany. If that’s news to you, then Yes! Oktoberfest is a festival and a style of beer! The festival began as a wedding for Prince Ludwig and Princess Therese in 1810. The party was so fantastic (horse races and bowling!), it was developed into an annual celebration of prosperity and Gemütlichkeit (warmth, friendliness, and good cheer). Brewers joined the festivities with a preemptive increase of spring brewing and storage of their Märzen style beer. The months of barrel aging gave the beer a darker color and a new flavor, which quickly adopted the name of the festival, and Oktoberfest-style beer was born. So buy while it’s available and fresh and spread the good cheer of seasonal beer!
Okay, by now you have an idea of the party food palate pushing this fest to national fame, but We haven’t even started talking about the party.
First, a few pointers – the parties start at 6 pm on Fridays and 5 pm on Saturdays, so grab your shades and show up before 7 pm to avoid the lines, or buy online to limit the wait to 30 minutes. Parking is free and they offer designated driver passes with free non-alcoholic beverages. Take advantage.
Expect to sing and dance up a storm at this party. If you require emotional lubrication for this, no sweat, it’s Oktoberfest – there’s a style of beer NAMED for this party! Warsteiner has you covered on beer this year, with Oktoberfest, Dunkel, and Pilsner, with local breweries Firestone, Stone, Golden Road, Smog City, Allagash (not local, but whatever), Strand, Hanger 24, and Absolution rolling in with their unique offerings each weekend.Dress light, preferable in your best German plaid, green, blouse, or ruffled skirt to blend in and stay cool – fall tends to be the hottest season in LA.
At 6:30, the Festmeister (Hans) will welcome you and your horde and introduce the band and dancers for the evening. (Let’s hope you dressed light and blend in.) Then the Oom Pah begins! This year’s Germany direct Oom Pah bands are the Happy Franconians and Die ABC Böhmische Strassenmusikanten. Traditional music and song from the Fatherland ensue followed by modern Oktoberfest classics (which Hans and Heino! seem to embody, polyester, wigs, and all). The Chicken Dance will make an hourly entrance, followed by contests like DAS BOOT and stein holding. At 8 pm special guest, German zuperstar Heino! hosts contests and leads rousing rounds of prosts (cheers and salutations) with unique flair. Music runs until midnight, when the Afterparty opens in the Alpine Restaurant, when you can finally kick back for that after party brat and beer.
So it’s you, beer, brats, and another couple thousand people making German merry.