September 30, 2012 marked my second visit to the fairgrounds in the quaint town of Vankleek Hill to partake in the annual Oktoberfest event presented by Beau’s All Natural Brewing Company. I was on the fence about going this year because I had a six month old baby at home and the prospect of spending the day that far away from my small family seemed daunting.
When I received an invitation to attend as a member of the media, I convinced myself (and the wife) that I should go and the next thing I know I was squeezed onto a yellow school bus hurtling east on highway 17 through the rain on a Sunday morning. I only had about 5 hours to spend at the festival, so after checking in I got down to business, promptly buying some beer tokens, a souvenir shirt and keychain and then placing an order for the commemorative Oktoberfest 6-Pack through the BYBO team.
After sampling a few of the new Beau’s-brewed beers and watching the King of Polka himself Walter Ostanek roll out the commemorative first cask that was tapped by Beau’s co-owner Steve Beauschesne, I headed to the Beer School where I attended a session on writing about beer and another on beer tasting and proper glassware use.
I got to meet some of my beer writing contemporaries and also had the pleasure of chatting with a quirky, unassuming brewer named Anders Kissmeyer, who was there for an International Brewers Panel and to brew a new collaboration with Beau’s.
There was a ton of great food to be had. I devoured a “Beauswurst” sausage from The Piggy Market much too fast and there were no less than a dozen other great looking and smelling booths operated by area eateries. There was a homebrewing competition, alpine dance demonstrations, dunk tanking for charity and a series of contests such as sausage eating and stein holding that I simply didn’t have time to check out this time around.
You can read more about the Vankleek Hill Oktoberfest experience at some other great beer blogs, but this year I was all about checking out the six brand new Wild Oats Series beers Beau’s was serving at the event in addition to favourites Lug Tread Lagered Ale, Night Märzen and Weiss O’ Lantern. I’ll briefly review all six in alphabetical order.