The first big, important news to impart is that there is an alternative Oktobefest in Germany that few people know about. Called Oide Wiesn (old Oktoberfest) and in its fourth year, the festival was founded precisely to combat the overwhelming tourist experience at the tents. Though slightly more expensive, it’s a throw-back to the Oktoberfest of old, with rides and replica tents in the traditional style.
In New York City, we’ve asked beer enthusiast and Untapped Cities contributor Luke Kingma to put together his list of best spots to celebrate Oktoberfest in the spirit of the original.
10. Zum Schneider in Alphabet City
Zum Schneider is a New York City institution, in its current location in Alphabet City for the last fourteen years. If there’s a cozy feel to this indoor biergarten, it’s all part of the plan by owner, the German-born Sylvester Schneider who created Zum Schneider to counter his own homesickness. The chairs are 100 years old, and 100% authentic, imported from German beerhals. Sylvester’s father built the communal tables. The food, drink, German events and even a Zum Schneider soccer team have been so successful, there’s been a Montauk outpost since 2012.
On October 2nd and 11th, Zum Schneider will host Munich on the River along the East River in celebration of Oktoberfest.
9. Radegast Hall & Biergarten, Williamsburg
Radegast Hall & Biergarten is a Williamsburg institution that stays packed, but you can be sure you’re on equal ground with everyone else as they don’t take reservations. The roof is retractable, letting in light and air during the summer and protecting the space in cooler weather. The staff wears traditional German clothing, offering up 22 beers on tap and more than 50 bottled beers sourced from around the world. There’s a full food menu (including a 55 oz Tomahawk steak to share).
Through October 4th, Radegast will have a special Oktoberfest food menu, Tuesday beer tastings, and look for live music on October 3rd.
8. Bohemian Hall and Beer Garden in Queens
The Bohemian Hall & Beer Garden may have the longest history of the beer gardens on this list, whose parent organization, the Bohemian Citizens’ Benevolent Society, was founded in 1892. In 1910, two plots of farmland in Astoria were purchased and construction began on the hall. It survived Prohibition and is still operating in the same location today.
For the next two weekends, Bohemian Hall will host Oktoberfest festivities on the weekends, with a stein hoist, beer tasting, and live music.
Smaller than most on this list, but packed full of charm, Lederhosen in Greenwich Village offers affordable prices, great sausages, costumed staff, and fun tchotchkes at the bar. Every September, Lederhosen is part of the Young German American Bar Crawl.
6. Loreley in Lower East Side
Loreley is situated just across from the perpetually packed, somewhat hidden restaurant, Freeman’s. Loreley is modeled after the Brauhaus in Cologne, but skips all of the traditional stuff. You won’t see costumes, folk music or hear yodeling here. Owner Michael Momm hails from the Rhineland and Cologne areas, and both the indoor and backyard feature communal tables made by a brewery furniture maker in Germany to recreate the “Gemütlichkeit” or coziness. Get both comfort food and finger foods for games here, with all the beers imported from Germany.
5. Cafe Katja in the Lower East Side
Cafe Katja is an Austrian restaurant and bar on Orchard Street with an old-world feel, a combination of its tin ceiling, wooden floors, bistro chairs and exposed brick details. There’s a solid selection of German beers including Spaten for Oktoberfest and a hearty, extensive menu. Don’t miss the pretzels.
4. Biergarten at the Standard Hotel
The Standard Hotel Biergarten has a unique location–right under the High Line itself, yet it remains a cozy atmosphere thanks to brick walls on all sides and an indoor-outdoor ambience. It has a distinctly modern feel too, with communal picnic tables and a dedicated space for ping-pong. Every Saturday during Oktoberfest it gets a bit more old school, with Standard Brauhaus Oktoberfest, dirndl’s, lederhosen, and a 35 piece German Polka Band.
3. Hofbräu Bierhaus in Midtown
In one of the more incredible conversions, this former Wendy’s is now Hofbräu Bierhaus, an indoor beer hall reminiscent of the places in Europe replete with wood paneled walls, communal wooden tables and long benches. There’s an outdoor balcony, topped with a German-style dormer roof. There’s a Stein Club and for Oktoberfest, the Hofbräu Oktoberfest beer is on tap and live music is on the program.
2. Die Koelner Bierhaus (KBH) in Park Slope, Brooklyn
Die Koelner Bierhaus (KBH) is in a former manufacturing space in Park Slope, Brooklyn serving a wide range of beers that range from 150 to 900 years old. At any given time, 70 beers are available (30 on tap, 40 bottled) as well as wines and spirits, and the menu is classic German beer hall food.
1. Paulaner, Lower East Side
At Paulaner, the concept of “tank to table” is taken to heart here as it also functions as a brewery for their in-house beer, a throw-back to the days when Pabst and other breweries operated halls all over New York City. But expect upscale ambience and food here, as Paulaner is operated by top chefs. There are cooking classes, brewing classes, and Paulaner is an official member of the FC Bayern Munich Fan Club.
Next, check out 10 of the best beer halls in New York City.