The New Oktoberfest: The Shops at Columbus Circle’s Hopping Beer Scene
For many people, October is synonymous with Oktoberfest, an intoxicating festival that takes place every autumn in Germany and around the world. The history of Oktoberfest stretches back to 1810, when the city of Munich threw a huge party for all its citizens to celebrate the marriage of Crown Prince Ludwig and Princess Therese of Saxony-Hildburghausen. But you don’t need to travel to Europe to get in on the fun: At The Shops at Columbus Circle, you’ll find all kinds of craft brews and tasty hops. So swing by, raise a glass, and be sure to say “Prost!”
“Fall in New York City is the best time of the year, made better by all the seasonal beer,” says Adam Freebury-roy, Specialty Team Leader at Whole Foods Market, which stocks a little something for everyone. Highlights include Southern Tier’s Cold Press Coffee Pumpking, a monster imperial ale with notes of cocoa, roasted nuts, and pumpkin spice; Montauk Pumpkin Ale, a balanced brew; and Weihenstephaner Festbier, a traditional Bavarian lager made by the world’s oldest brewery.
“Taste and temperature have always gone hand in hand,” says Kile Duval, Bar Manager at Center Bar. “In cold weather, we always find ways to get warmer.” For die-hard beer drinkers, this does not mean “warm beer” but beer with a cozy and inviting flavor. The Ommegang Rare Vos Amber Ale served at Center Bar is that beer. “Brewed with coriander, grains of paradise, and roasted malt, this Belgian-style American-made ale is one of the best ambassadors into the fall sipping season,” says Duval.
The Brits are getting in on the action, too. Bluebird London’s globally-inspired drinks menu features hops from around the world, including England, Scotland, Italy, California, and more. And just in time for Oktoberfest, Bluebird is serving up Weihenstephan’s Hefe Weissbier, a crisp beer from Bavaria. Bluebird also has a choice for teetotallers who want to celebrate: Clausthaler, a non-alcoholic brew from Germany.
Chef Thomas Keller wouldn't serve just any beer at his restaurants. He collaborated with Brooklyn Brewery, which came up with Blue Apron, a Belgian-style brown ale that's made exclusively for Keller's restaurants. You can sample this special, one-of-a-kind brew at Bouchon Bakery & Café. It has a palate of oranges, caramel, bread, chocolate, and a hint of spice and goes great with everything from cured meats to cheese.
With its boundary-pushing menus, it’s no surprise that Momofuku Noodle Bar is shaking things up in the beer arena, too. In addition to a rotating draft list that currently features selections from craft brewers in Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx, Momofuku recently collaborated with Vermont-based Shacksbury. The result is a harvest-appropriate rosé cider made with cabernet franc skins and foraged apples. It's as crisp and delicious as a perfect fall day.
Whole Foods, From left: Lauren Elle, Montauk Brewing Company
Center Bar, From left: Ommegang Brewery, Lauren Elle
Bluebird, From left: Ber Murphy, Weihenstephan
Bouchon, From left: Deborah Jones, David Escalante
Momofuku, Both: Andrew Bezek