You kids these days and your super-trendy downtown Dallas beer festivals. Untapped. North Texas Beer Festival. Dallas BrewFest. Big Texas Beer Fest. Oh, there isn't one this weekend? No problem, because you can just stroll in to one of your 187 microbreweries around town on any given Saturday, expecting (EXPECTING?!) there to be food trucks and live music and collectable mugs and well-designed t-shirts that you're too cool to wear. I know.
Well, gather round children, and let me tell you a tale. See, it was just a few years ago when Dallas didn't have microbreweries, or craft beer festivals, or cupcake ATMs, or even grilled-cheese food trucks. There was no Klyde Warren Park. When we wanted to wander around outside and drink beer with 10s of 1000s of other Dallas-ites, we had to drive our asses to (dramatic pause) the SUBURBS. What you know as the title of an Arcade Fire album was once a destination for outdoor fun and shenanigans.
And guess what? Addison's Oktoberfest was and still is pretty great. After extending multiple invites to people that are now apparently too good to travel north of Walnut Hill, my wife and sons, along with another friend and her son, took advantage of the most perfect weather that Dallas can muster and got lost in the aisles of goofy art, smoked meat, polka bands, and strollers.
I like Oktoberfest, because it is 100 percent family friendly and also 100 percent normal to watch old people drunkenly enter a raffle for a Texas Rangers-themed Camaro. Despite the jubilance, everyone that I saw remained in control. I didn't see any strangers shouting things at each other or dude-bros messing up high-fives. It's the 'burbs, after all.
After looking at the map, we all agreed that the 30,000 square-foot air-conditioned tent ought to be our first stop, so we could sit down and figure out a plan. Upon walking in, my wife's friend burst out laughing and immediately turned around. Imagine a clown car, but instead of a car it was a 30,000 square-foot air-conditioned tent and instead of circus music there was polka music. (Which maybe is based on polka music? Check wikipedia.) We decided instead to set up camp near the outside stage and watched multiple bands, along with a beer barrel race.
I was told that the city was expecting 75,000 guests, but wouldn't be surprised if the good weather brought out somewhere closer to 90,000. The worst line was the line to buy food tickets; otherwise, I didn't wait more than 5 minutes for anything, though we did leave around 6:30p to avoid multiple tired-child melt-downs.
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Without question, the best thing I ate was an elk bratwurst with jalapeno and cheddar. Flavorful and perfectly cooked, the jalapeno was subtle enough to avoid overpowering the distinct taste of the elk meat. When I showed up, they were also selling chicken and pheasant sausages with spinach, but the wheat beer, strudel, pork shank, and potato pancake were already weighing me down and someone had to chase my two-and-a-half year old away from the accordion player (don't want the kid getting any ideas).
Speaking of strudel, apparently I've been missing out on it my entire life. Maybe this is common knowledge, but streusel is a generic term for crumb topping, and strudel is the most delicious pastry in the world. We picked the almond-apricot, and it turned out to be a sweet sponge cake, filled with apricots, then wrapped in a flaky pastry and covered in powdered sugar. Cronuts be damned, the Germans have cornered the market on the baked-good mash-up.
One thing the festival could use more of, ironically? Beer. In the midst of the Biergarten, beer tents, sweet steins, and every single vendor that served food also pouring beer, the choices were sparse. Paulaner, as a main sponsor, dominates the event. Like some sort of jerk, I asked the guy at the first tent what sort of beer was available. "Light, Dark, and Wheat." Oh, but. Well. Wheat, obviously, but I was still disappointed. I searched for other options, and did find some in the only building used at the festival, hidden behind ski ball and HD TVs showing college football. But, it was a "Beers of the World" table pouring some Brazilian beer and Tsingtao. Wofür? It would be nice if the überschütten of German-inspired Texas breweries were better represented, or acknowledged, at a gigantic celebration of Germany and beer in Texas.
All in all, though, Addison Oktoberfest did us right. It might not be as tattooed and skinny-jeaned as the downtown festivals, but for a fun afternoon celebrating the arrival of some semblance of fall, it's still on my annual list. Plus, no one glares at you for pushing a double stroller.