Denver Oktoberfest – Recap
So this past weekend was the last chance to enjoy Denver’s celebration of Bavarian heritage, live music & merriment, and of course…beer! So, on a surprisingly warm September day a few friends and I headed down to the Ballpark District to see things for ourselves.
When we first arrived its easy to see the numerous tents and stages setup for the vendors and performers. On either end of the festival were two stages for live music, with several blocks worth of covered tents between them. Journeying forward we see that there’s abundant food available from a multitude of vendors under these tents. Combined with the seemingly endless rows of tables and chairs, these tents form huge outdoor dining & drinking halls. And indeed, the beer was flowing, featuring both Coors and Sam Adams products. I myself was smitten with the classic Boston Lager from Samuel Adams Brewing, though they did feature the festival’s only seasonal beer: a namesake Oktoberfest. While enjoying my glass stein of the amber liquid, my friends and I continued to explore around and discover what other merriment was at the festival.
We came to find short lines and fun activities, including live music, carnival game tents, and an odd hamster ball on water game. People go into these clear plastic bubbles and then play across a large kiddie pool of water. The hilarity ensues as the participants try to stand in place, walking, and even doing flips in their bubbles on water. While this may not have any true ties to Oktoberfest, it certainly drew a crowd of curious eyes.
Meanwhile, the main stage featured two great performing groups, one of professionals and one of amateurs. The first are the traditional musicians and dancers dressed in full Bavarian clothing. This group seemed to be made up of two or three families and it was adorable watching the children enjoying their culture. One of the more memorable song and dance routines included wood chopping and sawing. No doubt based on the traditional usage and importance of timber in German history, the lumberjacks kept the beat and rhythm of the song through their axes and two-man saws.
But the most enjoyable, and certainly unique, entertainment was the stein hoisting competition. Simply put men and women drawn from the crowd held a “filled-to-the-brim” glass stein outstretched in each hand for as long as they could. While it sounds simple these steins are monstrous and made out of heavy-duty glass. (After trying myself I gave up after about 2 minutes, and that was with only one!) This isometric feat of strength was the highlight of the afternoon, with more than 60 or so contestants stepping up to the plate. Each round brought new surprises, contestants young and old, big and small, muscular and petite. But the best performance was an outstanding 6 minute showing from a middle aged gentleman. He didn’t have the biggest arms of the day, nor the best technique…but he was centered and focused. For a day filled with beer and a somewhat younger crowd this was a matter of honor and pride for him.
Moving along my friends and I decided to take a break from this celebration of German heritage and step into a different culture for dinner. So giving up our steins for pints we headed up the 16th Street Mall for a delicious dinner at Katie Mullen’s. Certainly the highlight of my meal was a delicious appetizer of salmon, pita and chive cream cheese. Though it may seem an odd mixture it was the best thing I ate all evening! The only thing that may have topped the food was enjoying the cooler temperature setting in for a balmy 70 degree night downtown on their outdoor patio. Facing out to 16th Street Mall it was easy to enjoy my dinner, have good conversation and people watch the night away. For the main course I partook in a somewhat bland Fish and Chips dinner. On the plus side I was given a heaping fillet of fish with just the right amount of fry encrusting the outside as well as a wonderful pairing of coleslaw. However, the steak fries were somewhat bland and lacked flavor, and the tartar sauce was a veiled concoction of mayonnaise at best. All in all I ate my fill and by the end of my meal I was stuffed and could take no more. While the fish and chips weren’t up to my standards, I’ve never been let down by Katie Mullen’s before and would recommend their boxty if you’re looking for a delicious and authentically Irish dish.
Afterwards we headed back to partake in some live music and fireworks. Unfortunately huge lines and thick crowds took away much of the carefree fun from our afternoon experience. Instead we headed up to the Tavern Downtown and enjoyed the fireworks from the largest rooftop bar deck in the state! It was a great show, filling the night sky with cracks, pop, and showers of glitter and light. The rest of the evening was centered around Downtown Denver’s nightlife as we continued to dance, drink and enjoy the evening. We stopped by Lodos for another taste of the rooftop life, while enjoying great music and less of a pretentious crowd than the Tavern drew. People dressed for a fun night and dancing versus people dressed to impressed and an odd mix of baseball fans, cougars on the prowl and powerbrokers from 17th Street blowing through their cash. The night continued on, and we stopped by 1Up next. A hipster bar if there ever was one, we packed into a somewhat dank and humid basement the bar is filled with retro and classic arcade games. While the nerd in me would absolutely love to sip his drink and play skeet ball all night, the crowds and pretentious drink orders make me think Saturday isn’t quite the right night for that. So in the end we went back to the Tavern to meet up with some friends…and that’s what really makes the night what it is. It’s not the music, the crowds or the cover charges. It’s about catching up with friends, meeting new ones and dancing the night away!
Posted on September 28, 2011, in Dining, Entertainment and tagged 1UP, Beer, beer halls, Denver, Downtown bars, fall, festival, Katie Mullens, Lodo, Lodos, Oktoberfest, rooftop bars, stein, The Tavern. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.