This fall, Oktoberfest will have an added meaning here in San Antonio, a city already rich in German history and influence. On Sunday October 2, 2011 the Brackenridge Park Conservancy will, along with the Pearl, will sponsor ‘Parktoberfest’ a celebration of life in the San Antonio of 1911, focusing largely on its German roots and the phenomenon of the beer garden. The event is free to the public, who will enjoy local microbrews and information about brewing beer and homebrewing, including displays of hops and other ingredients. Plans were to have at least one local micro-brewer brew a reproduction of a lager made from a 19th-century recipe, but due to the process needed to ferment a lager, as well as concerns over label approval, this will not come to fruition this year, ” but we can aim for that for next year, maybe; we want this to become an annual event promoting beer and San Antonio history.” Said Leila Powell, a representative from Brackenridge Park. Powell went on to say however, that there will be a presence form the local homebrewing community. Eugene Simor of the Alamo Beer Company, says that he will will also be there in support with his breweries Alamo Golden Ale on hand.
Mobile vendors will be on sight to sell culinary treats, and the Beethoven Mannerchor and a Ragtime pianist will provide entertainment and information about the arts and culture of the period. The first annual Parktoberfest will be held at the Koehler Pavilion in Brackenridge park from 2:00pm until 6:00pm.
Otto Koehler was a prominent San Antonio businessman who had left his job at the Lonestar Brewing Co in 1902 to become the manager and one of the founders of the San Antonio Brewing Association, the owner of the brewery that made San Antonio’s famous ‘Pearl’ beer. Pearl had originally been brewed in Germany by the Kaiser-Beck Brewery and later brought to the United States. A German immigrant, Koehler was active in brewing, manufacturing, mining and many other concerns.
After his death, Otto’s widow Emma donated a tract of land known thereafter as “Koehler Park” to the City of San Antonio in 1916 in honor of her deceased husband. The donation came with a catch however, Emma only deeded the land to the city with the understanding that the city should continue to allow and promote the sale of “malt liquors” in the donated area. Great, considering that much of the donated area had in fact been employed by the Koehlers as what we today would call a beer garden, allowing city-dwellers to escape to a green oasis beside the river.
The event is free, family-friendly and will follow the City of San Antonio’s Siclovia on Broadway from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM, and precede the latin music festival Echale! at The Pearl from 6:00 to 10:00 PM.
This past Saturday saw the second annual RealTail collaboration event between San Antonio’s Freetail Brewing Company and Blanco’s Real Ale Brewing Co. The event featured many rare beers from each brewery, as well as a collaboration Double Wit beer that included Nopaltinos (cactus pads from the Prickly Pear Cactus), salt and several undisclosed spices, which was brewed a few weeks in advance of the event.
Although the event opened at 11:30 in the morning, craft beer enthusiasts couldn’t wait and many arrived an hour early in anticipation, bringing some of their own brew from home. I arrived around noon and the atmosphere was already standing room only and like many I was lucky to find a seat.
The menu was exactly as wonderful as expected, with Freetail featuring Rubio Fumando; the summer ale Broken Honeymoon; Hopothesis E, the latest in experimental Hopothesis series; SA-west IPA, a hoppy wheat beer; a little of 2010 offering their Imperial Stout, La Muerta; and several barrel aged beers like the Figgy Wood’n and BA Cherry Porter.
Not to be out done, Real Ale brought this years Oktoberfest; Lost Gold IPA; Real Ale XV and the Volume XIV, a barrel aged version of the 14 anniversary ale. The surprises from the guys in Blanco didn’t stop there. Empire also reared it’s head, a barrel aged version of the Lost Gold IPA; and Morgul, a porter aged for 7 months in Kentucky Whiskey Barrels, both a part of their Mysterium Verum series.
Most intriguing on Saturday was their WT3F, a very interesting and slight tart ale. Very reminiscent of their Belgian Trippel, Devils Backbone. This had more of a twist though and was definitely different than the Devils Share, a barrel aged version of the Backbone. Two mysteries had to be solved on Saturday, where was the tart coming from, and what is the meaning behind the name? “We diverted some of the wort from the Devil’s Backbone from the main tank”‘ said Real Ale’s Brewmaster Eric, who went on to say ” we then pitched a Brettanomyces yeast strain that was cultivated from an unknown brewery and the clue to the breweries name is in the beers name” laughed Eric. I have searched and not been successful….yet.