With public gatherings limited, Oktoberfest celebrations are confined to the crib this year
October has become synonymous with leaves changing colors, pumpkin spice lattes and the beloved “spooky season.”
Amongst the spirited festivities exclusive to fall, one tradition reigns supreme in the hearts of many beer lovers around the world: Oktoberfest. With the absence of Halloween parties, pumpkin patches and Oktoberfest festivals this year, October just feels different.
Though many of the celebrations and fairs that pay homage to German heritage have been canceled to lower the spread of COVID-19, beer drinkers around the world are rushing to store shelves in hopes of tasting commemorative ales from their favorite breweries.
Fortunately for Humboldt County residents and Humboldt State University students who enjoy the occasional pint between study sessions, there is no shortage of local craft breweries pumping out beer to consume year-round. The assortment of IPA’s, lagers, ales and sours offered at the local brew houses are guaranteed to satisfy the most fastidious of beer connoisseurs.
On Sun., Oct. 18, I visited Redwood Curtain Brewing Co. in Arcata, hoping to sample a variety of brews that compliment the changing seasons. Unfortunately, RCBC is taking a breather on concocting their traditional German inspired lagers that are usually available this time of the year.
Refusing to leave in defeat, employee Chris Galleron, assisted me in scouring their selection to find some substitutes that are adequate for any at home Oktoberfest celebration. I left with three crawlers filled with different brews ready to be enjoyed, a nice change of pace from cases of Pabst Blue Ribbon and poorly crafted mixed drinks most of us endear in our college careers.
First up was Muddy Nut Bush, which is made in collaboration with Muddy Waters Coffee Company in the neighboring city McKinleyville.
At first glance I was taken back by the idea of a coffee infused beer, especially one that utilizes a rather potent cold brew. My original expectations were tainted by long nights during finals week, where caffeine fuels overnight cramming sessions and last minute procrastination. The nutty beer is infused with Muddy Water’s cold brew, which delivers a smooth and robust finish at 4.2 percent ABV. I found myself pleasantly surprised by the aroma of this one, the coffee notes derived from the cold brew creates a rather sweet flavor that is subtle yet delicious.
Next up, in the second generous sized canister was Logger in the Dark. This international dark logger is Redwood Curtain’s closest comparable option to a traditional German Lager.
Logger in the Dark is exceptionally balanced despite its amber color and bright aroma. Malty notes complimented the sweet hints of caramel and chocolate. By no means lacking flavor, this dark beer delivers a dessert like taste without overpowering your palette coming in at 4.4 percent ABV. This dark beer is perfect to pair with a warm, hearty meal on a cold autumn evening in Humboldt.
Last up in our three pack of crafted malt elixirs was my personal favorite, Sticky Fingers IPA. This Indiana Pale Ale is affectionately named after the long lasting crop Humboldt County is infamous for.
This beer is the hoppiest of our three picks, but possibly the most flavorful. The crisp hazy tones of Sticky Fingers is balanced by the bright citrus hues that are tasted at the end of each sip. A Redwood Curtain favorite amongst its customers, this IPA is sure to please anyone looking for an ale with a bite. Measuring in at 6.1 percent ABV, this brew will definitely give you a run for your money, creating a mellow sensation for drinkers.
Regardless of how different things might look this fall, the spirit of Oktoberfest lives throughout Humboldt County. So, grab a pint of your favorite local brew, hold your glass up high and cheers to the uncertainty this year has presented us with.