For more than a century, north Brooklyn has been home to tight-knit German, Polish, and central European communities. These immigrants brought many traditions along with them to their new home, including Oktoberfest.
Traditionally running from mid-September to the first Sunday of October, Oktoberfest is a centuries-old autumn festival dedicated to drinking beer, eating food, and gathering with friends and family. The spirit of the festival lives on to this day in many corners of the world, from Munich to Brooklyn.
A number of local bars and restaurants celebrate their own Oktoberfest, including Greenpoint Beer & Ale Co. At 1150 Manhattan Avenue, which started its annual Oktoberfest celebration on September 18.
“We started this year’s Oktoberfest two weeks ago, but Oktoberfest is a celebration that has been happening in this area for over 100 years,” said Ed Raven, founder and owner of Greenpoint Beer & Ale Co.
The brewery serves a number of seasonal beers for Oktoberfest, including Hacker Pschorr Oktoberfest shipped in from Munich, and the Greenpoint Oktoberfest they brew on site. The business also offers German dishes, including currywürst, bratwurst, and spaetzle.
Raven is a veteran of the Brooklyn beer scene. He was a founding member of Brooklyn Brewery before moving on to start his own businesses, watching as the area’s brewing community grew over the past few decades.
“Greenpoint has a great tradition of beer, beer brewing, and beer drinking, the Germans helped us with that,” Raven said. “But now Oktoberfest brings in a lot of different people from the neighborhood. It’s a big celebration.”
Greenpoint Beer & Ale Co. will celebrate Oktoberfest for one more week, but Ed Raven hinted that they might extend the festival a little bit longer.
Moving down from Greenpoint to Williamsburg, Radegast Hall & Biergarten at 113 North 3rd Street has been serving German cuisine since opening in 2007, but introduces a special Oktoberfest menu every fall to mark the occasion.
In addition to food and drinks, the Oktoberfest at Radegast Hall features music, giveaways, and special decorations inside the Biergarten’s brick-lined dining room. Lederhosen and dirndls are encouraged.
“As Greenpoint residents mainly hail from Europe, they feel very comfortable here as we are a blend of European and American cultures,” said Sean Snyder, manager at Radegast Hall & Biergarten. “The old ways meet the new.”