The brewpub not only spotlights these beers in their own right but also incorporates them into its holiday food offerings. For example, the best-selling Oktoberfest Egg Rolls feature Vienna Red Lager–flavored bacon sauerkraut, bratwurst, cheddar, and a beer mustard dipping sauce.
Other standouts on its multi-week Oktoberfest menu include Pommes Jaeger (house-cut fries topped with Gruyere, bacon, mushroom gravy, and a sunny-side up egg); Huhner Schnitzel (pan-fried chicken cutlets served with haricots verts, almonds, egg noodles, and a lemon herb sauce); and Hackbraten (a German-style meatloaf with Vienna Red Lager-braised red cabbage, smashed potatoes, and a caramelized onion sauce made with Abbey Dubbel Ale). “This menu makes us stand out a little bit by taking traditional fare and putting our own little spin on it,” Hand says.
For its King of the Hill loyalty club members, the Oktoberfest celebration is even more exclusive, with the company hosting a members-only night where guests can enjoy a limited-run beer, plus small-bites pairings that are a twist on its mainstay Oktoberfest foods. “We always look for ways to add a wrinkle to it to make these people feel like it’s unique and special,” Hand says.
On the opposite coast, fine-dining concept Lucques—home to James Beard Award-winning chef Suzanne Goin—doesn’t delve quite as deeply into Oktoberfest as Banger’s or Iron Hill, but it does offer an elevated prix-fixe menu inspired by the German holiday for one night only.
Dishes include warm potato salad with whole-grain mustard, cornichons, and caraway; an array of grilled and pan-roasted sausages served with roasted apples and sauerkraut; herb spaetzle with wild mushrooms, winter squash, Bavarian cheese, and chestnuts; and a pear and walnut crumble tart topped with raisins, creme fraiche, and vanilla ice cream. But the standout is undoubtedly its smoked ham hocks, which are braised for hours in Bavarian beer and served slathered with onions.
Speaking of beer, Lucques finishes off the meal (which is $65 per person) with a beer cocktail using German sour beer as its base. Other themed beverages include Bavarian beer, German and Austrian wines, and house-made mint schnapps—all offered amid a festive atmosphere filled with German-inspired music, photos, and staff dressed for the occasion.
“We take the food very seriously,” says general manager Matt Duggan, “but we don’t mind adding a couple of fun touches—a little wink here and there.”