The first hint of fall weather might trigger a Pavlovian response among beer lovers around D.C. who crave a sip of crisp German pilsners, festbiers, and Helles lagers. This weekend marks the first wave of Oktoberfest parties. These 10 bars, restaurants, and breweries offer a strong sampling of brews from German and regional producers, pouring everything from unfiltered beers in Franconian-style gravity kegs to Virginia wheat beers made with farm well water and hazy IPAs named after vegetables.
Friday, September 17, through Sunday, October 10
The NoMa beer garden will host regular events for nearly a month that feature Märzen-style German beers from Spaten, Franziskaner, and Weihenstephan and local picks from Red Bear Brewing and Port City. Cafe Berlin will pop up for German food on Fridays. Highlights include live music, “Bavarian Oympics” contests, and DJ parties co-hosted by the German embassy (Fridays from 8 p.m. to midnight). “Dogtoberfest” events are Sundays from noon to 3 p.m. “PRIDEtoberfests” are scheduled for two Thursdays (September 30 and October 7) from 4 p.m. to 11 p.m. Register for free here. 1101 First Street NE
Saturday, September 18, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Neighborhood Restaurant Group’s Navy Yard brewery is releasing a Bavarian-style Hill House festbier and tapping four unfiltered beers in Franconian-style gravity kegs. The Hill House, Small Conversations Helles lager, Radio Cure pilsner, and Pattern Skies weissbier will all be available in liter steins. Bavarian food specials include beer brats, knockwurst with spicy horseradish, chicken schnitzel, and potato pancakes, Attendance is free. Food and drinks are a la carte. Sister restaurants like Rustico in Alexandria and Owen’s Ordinary in North Bethesda have their own celebrations planned for the same day. NRG’s epic Snallygaster, the largest beerfest in D.C., is set for October 9 along Pennsylvania Avenue NW. 300 Tingey Street SE
Saturday, September 18
Other Half is hosting Baker’s Daughter for a combo cookout and beerfest at the Northeast brewery. Chef Matt Baker and Co. are making an a la carte menu that features giant pretzels, two types of bratwurst, German potato salad, sauerkraut, and smoked pork shoulders and chicken. Other Half is pouring beers from visiting breweries — including its sibling locations in Brooklyn — and guest taps from brewers such as Wheatland Spring and Schilling Beer Company. The latest drop from Other Half includes a double dry-hopped Hop Showers IPA, a Spinach IPA, a Green Dots IPA, and a hazy East Coast-style Green City IPA, No tickets are required, and food and drinks will be a la carte. 1401 Okie Street NE
Saturday, September 18, through October 3
The Park View beer garden with a spacious front patio kicks off a two-week celebration with lots of German beers on tap, $5 pints, $10 steins, and its regular offerings of brats and big pretzels. Brews include a Gaffel Kölsch from Cologne, dark Köstritzer Schwarzbier, and a Radeberger pilsner brewed near Dresden. 3333 Georgia Avenue NW
Dacha (multiple locations)
Saturday, September 18, through October 3
The German beer garden, which boasts outdoor beer gardens in Shaw and Navy Yard, will give away beer at its Saturday morning kickoff. Events in Shaw include a costume contest (Sunday, September 19), a stein-holding contest (September 26), and a dog costume contest (October 2). The first day at Navy Yard includes oompah music from Edelweiss Band and “sausage fest” smorgasbords built on a giant pretzel. Dacha is tapping German beers from Weihenstephaner, including a festbier, and Andechser. 1600 Seventh Street NW; 79 Potomac Avenue SE
Saturday, September 18, through Monday, September 27
The German bar with a sidewalk patio in Mt. Vernon Triangle is hosting daily Oktoberfest events, including a kickoff party Saturday with free half-liters for the first 50 people who RSVP for free. A fest market is Sunday, September 19, and there’s a “Puptoberfest” the following Monday. German beers on draft include pilsners from Radeberger, Rothaus, and Eggenberg, a Helles lager from Spaten, and festbiers from Tucher and Bitburger. 919 Fifth Street NW
Saturday, September 18, 1 p.m. to midnight
The turf-lined bar that spans the roof of Union Market is grilling brats, hosting live music, and adding a pretzel cart stocking German mustard and beer cheese. Festive beers include three options from D.C. Brau: a “Brautoberfest,” apilsner, and a Stand and Deliver barrel-aged IPA. Admittance is free but reservations are recommended. 1309 Fifth Street NE
Saturday, September 18, and Sunday, September 19
This 30-acre farm and production facility in Loudoun County, a favorite of local brewers for a “land beer” approach that factors in Virginia grains, well water, and native yeasts, is hosting its third annual Oktoberfest by tapping four beers: a holiday-appropriate Oider Ursprung made with 65 percent Bavarian grain from a farm outside of Munich, a malty Ursprung Festbier, a rich and dry Bauernhof Alt that blends in chocolate wheat, and the Corn Crib Farmhouse Ale. In addition to beer, there will be bratwurst, traditional music and games, and competitions for German garb and stein-holding. Tickets ($24) include a commemorative half-liter stein. Sunday is a designated family day. Kids get in free. 38506 John Wolford Road, Waterford, Virginia
Thursday, September 23, 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.
As part of DC Beer Week, the solar-powered tap room in Navy Yard will sell $10 tickets that include a 32-ounce stein of its light Festbier with $5 refills. For a $15 ticket, customers can get a 64-ounce stein with $10 refills. There will also be themed food and music. 201 Half St SE
September 25th and October 16th, noon to 3 p.m.
This traditional German restaurant in Capitol Hill is hosting two pig roasts. For $55, customers get a portion of spanferkel (suckling pig) with sides, apfelstrudel, and a liter of beer. Throughout September and October, Cafe Berlin is also throwing Bavarian brunches with German folk music. Rotating German drafts include a Reissdorf Kölsch from Cologne, a cloudy pale Zwickl Kellerbier from Bavaria, and a Münchner Gold lager from Munich. Reserve a table here. 322 Massachusetts Avenue NE