Friday, August 6, 2010

Artisan's Oktoberfest and Ramstein kegs

On a hot summer afternoon on the last day of July, brewer Dave Hoffmann was turning out a fall seasonal beer at Artisan's Brewery and related this item:

The Toms River brewpub's 2010 Oktoberfest is set for Friday, Oct. 8. (That date is a correction from what we previously posted. Beer writer Kurt Epps, who also serves as emcee for the event, wasn't available for the original Oct. 1 date, so Artisans moved things to the 8th.)

Artisan's (now into its eight month removed from its former name Basil T's) draws a big crowd with this multi-course beer dinner, of which, as you can guess, the house-brewed fall Märzen (which Dave was working on) is the centerpiece.

Dave says he's putting Artisan's Oktoberfest beer on tap on Sept. 18, the same day that the 2010 Oktoberfest kicks off in Munich. (In the past, he has waited a week or so.) This year, by the way, marks the bicentennial of Germany's Oktoberfest, which as we all know originated as the commemoration of the nuptials of Crown Prince Ludwig and Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen.

Meanwhile, up in Butler, the folks at High Point Brewing are gearing up for the debut of the 2010 edition of their Ramstein Oktoberfest. The 2009 version of the brew scored the top rating from BeerAdvocate, and it's annually been a hot-ticket seasonal for the brewery.

As is its tradition with the Oktoberfest brew, High Point will tap a ceremonial oak keg during its September open house and brewery tour. That's set for 2-4 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 11. By the way, next Saturday's August open house (2-4 p.m. Aug. 14) will feature an imperial pilsner that's worth the trip to Butler. Bring your growlers.

Also, last month High Point signed on with keg-supplier MicroStar to gain greater control of its draft beer operations. It's a key business step and probably best explained this way: Say you own a brewery and you own all your of kegs, and you have to wait for returns to fill new ones. There isn't always a happy balance to what goes out and what comes back for cleaning and filling, so signing on with a supplier ensures kegs are available to get beer to the marketplace and keep business on track.

High Point relies heavily on its draft beer side, since the brewery puts only three of its many beers in 12-ounce bottles (Blonde, Classic Wheat and Winter Wheat), even though it has plans to begin bottling some seasonal brews. Consider, too, that the brewery's business was up 30 percent last year. Given those factors you can see why striking a deal MicroStar matters.


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