Saturday, October 12, 2013

Day 153 - Southwest Harbor Oktoberfest

I have never been to the Southwest Harbor, Maine Oktoberfest. As someone that is used to attending the nearly authentic Oktoberfests that are tied to Wisconsin's deep German heritage, I figured attending an Oktoberfest on the east coast would give the unique opportunity to see how this event varies across the nation. As a result, Rachael and I decided to take a break from hiking mountains on our fourth day in Maine and set aside time to attend the local Oktoberfest celebration in the Bar Harbor today. Given the lack of German heritage in the area, my expectations weren't high for the event, but I knew some beer, a little music, and some local eats would go along way toward having a good time. In turn, Rachael and I made our way over to the Southwest Harbor Oktoberfest this morning, ready to relax after a few days hiking through the mountains.

A quick stop on the way to Oktoberfest

Upon arriving at the Southwest Harbor Oktoberfest, Rachael and I were quick to get our tickets and the glasses for our beer samples while at the event. I was immediately disappointed to see the sample glass was slightly larger than a shot glass and that we were limited to 10 samples with our tickets. Essentially, this meant that our $30 entry fee paid for what amounted to about two and a half glasses of beer. Although the price seemed high for what was comparably a very little amount of beer $30 would pay for at the Oktoberfests back home, I looked past my the initial let downs of the event and geared up to sample a variety of local beers. In anticipation, Rachael and I entered the festival grounds and made our way to the main tent to begin our first ever Oktoberfest experience on the east coast.


The Oktoberfest tent

As Rachael and I made our way around the Oktoberfest tent, we took stock of the available choices from the roughly 20 brewers in attendance. With ales, ciders, and pumpkin beers aplenty, it quickly became clear what brews were the most popular in the Northeast. Unfortunately, that meant there was very little deviation in choice, but Rachael and I ultimately narrowed in on the beers that had the most appeal among the bunch. At first, we sampled a few ales and a few seasonal brews, but with our permitted samples quickly diminishing we had to rethink our strategy. Rachael took her time scoping out some available options and focused on some infused beers, while I walked the tent in search of the few available stouts offered by the brewers in attendance. Eventually, that resulted in Rachael finding a coffee infused beer she really enjoyed, and it gave me an opportunity to find what I felt was the best beer available at the event, the Brooklyn Brewery Chocolate Stout.

Luckily, Rachael and I met some great people as we wandered the tent, which resulted in us obtaining a few more sample tickets and getting a few free samples thanks to some terrific brewery employees and Oktoberfest volunteers. In total, we had more than enough samples to cover a taste of each brewer at the event, and I was able to get a few more samples of the Black Chocolate Stout. As a result, we hung out at the event for a few hours more before deciding to wrap up our first experience with the Southwest Harbor Oktoberfest.

Before heading back to Bar Harbor this afternoon, Rachael and I decided to stop at the nearby Bass Harbor lighthouse for another new experience. With sunset a little more than one hour away, I hiked out onto the brightly colored rocks running along the shore and snapped a few pictures while Rachael stayed onshore and watched on. There we stayed with the gathering group of photographers and onlookers until the sunset sunk beneath the distant ocean horizon. The calm weather and beautiful scenery provided an amazing backdrop to take in the first of Maine's famous lighthouses Rachael and I encountered during our trip. It was nearly perfect, and I know it was an experience that will stick with me for quite some time.

Sunset over Bass Harbor

With darkness falling, Rachael and I left the Bass Harbor lighthouse and made the trip back to Bar Harbor. After a simple dinner we settled in for the night and looked over the photos from the day's events. Although some elements of the Southwest Harbor Oktoberfest left something to be desired, the friendly people and welcoming brewers made it an experience worth having. Additionally, our experience at the Bass Harbor lighthouse this evening was something I wouldn't trade for the world. It certainly wasn't the most incredible new experience from our time in Maine, but sitting before the lighthouse listening to the ocean for the better part of an hour was peaceful and, in a way, soothing. With two days left in our trip to Maine, I know there will be many more awe-inspiring experiences to come, but today was good... Just good, and I mean that in the best way possible.

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