ALTHOUGH I AM genetically only 20 percent German, I’ve always strongly identified as a German girl. My dad used to bark commands like “shut the goddamn door” at me in German when I was a kid, for chrissakes. I even have a cat named Dunkel. So it comes as no surprise that I FUCKING LOVE Oktoberfest. I love the shitty David Hasselhoff music, I love the dirndls, and I love heavy meats washed down by dark beers served in giant glass boots.
I know what you’re thinking: Why do they call it Oktoberfest if it’s in September? Because it originally ran for the 16-day period leading up to the first Sunday in October. Oktoberfest is like the German-only version of Disneyland’s “It’s a Small World” ride, but with beer. And lucky us! It’s possible to hit a different Portland Oktoberfest three weekends in a row! Pick and choose which ones to visit, or be like me and hit them all.
Mt. Angel (September 15-18)
Okay, this one is technically not in town (it’s an hour south), but it’s the main situation for Oktoberfest in Oregon. It also has the most to offer folks with kids or those who don’t imbibe. Enjoy the locally made kraut and Berliner sandwiches, and take a coil of Mt. Angel Sausage Company’s excellent wurst home for later. Plus, there’s a giant glockenspiel that plays “Edelweiss” four times a day! Local schoolchildren in traditional garb dance the Maypole and it’s fucking precious! Of interest to breeders: There’s a free kindergarten (11 am-5 pm) where you can park little Heidi and Hans so you can quaff like a hole in peace! (5 Garfield, Mount Angel, Oregon)
Stammtisch (September 16-18)
These fine fellows take their already carefully curated beer list and throw in some bonus shit for the nerds—this year they have nearly a dozen additional festbiers to wet your throat, with snappy pilsener-style Dinkelacker and fruity Benediktiner Weissbier making special appearances. Various roasted and smoked meats, buttery pretzels as big as your head, and other fare will keep up your strength while you get trolleyed and try your hand at various games of accuracy, such as cornhole and ladder ball! Hit a nail into a stump with the pointy end of a hammer in the totally safe game called Hammerschlagen! (401 NE 28th)
Oaks Park (September 23-25)
This is the big Oktoberfest you visit without leaving town, and it’s the official one sponsored by the German American Society. Live oompah bands provide the perfect backdrop to robust day drinking or getting your polka on with a handsome stranger in lederhosen. Paulaner beers, sausages, waffles, and giant slabs of Black Forest cake keep you enjoying the festivities all day long. (7805 SE Oaks Park)
Prost (September 30-October 2)
Representing NoPo’s Bierliebhaber (of COURSE Germans have a word for “beer lover”), Stammtisch’s older sister Prost gives you one last chance to drink ’til you’re blue in celebration of the changing seasons. Oktoberfest menus reflect those at Stammtisch, with döner kebab, currywurst, brats, and pretzels to soak up the mighty festbiers. Prost, ihr Säcke! (Cheers, you pricks!) (4237 N Mississippi)
Oktoberfest All Year Round
If crowds aren’t your thing or the timing isn’t right, don’t worry: You can still have Oktoberfest. Enjoy the beers and brats at the new Occidental Wursthaus (6635 N Baltimore); they’re also having an Oktoberfest special on September 24, with music, food by Urban German, and a $10 commemorative glass mug.
Or hit Edelweiss (3119 SE 12th) for brats—the cheddarwurst and hot Hungarians are personal favorites—and take-and-bake pretzels. They also happen to serve the best Reuben in town. Portland’s oldest German deli, Otto’s Sausage Kitchen (4138 SE Woodstock) sells house-smoked meats and sides (their crunchy pea salad with smoked almonds is killer AND vegetarian), and the three meats in their Oktoberfest sandwich will knock boots in your tummy. Both Otto’s and Edelweiss have well-stocked beer cases and a decent selection of German wines.
For a sit-down dinner, there’s tried-and-true Der Rheinlander (5035 NE Sandy), where an older gentleman in lederhosen will serenade you with an accordion over a platter of cabbage rolls and fondue. (You can skip the fanfare and loud families and hide out in the bar, Gustav’s.) Or head across the river to delightful mom and pop Otto and Anita’s Schnitzel Haus (3025 SW Canby), where the dill pickle soup and SEVEN different varieties of the titular dish will transport you back to the Vaterland.
Ein Prosit, der Gemütlichkeit! (I salute you with coziness cheers!)