By Kurt Epps, The PubScout
Some things are consistent at NJ's premier Oktoberfest dinner: Dave Hoffman's beers, Steve Farley's cuisine, the beauty of the Artisan Dirndl Madschens, the party mood of the guests and, I hope, the entertainment.
What isn't consistent is the size of the crowd. Starting out with 45 guests eight years ago, this annual south Jersey tribute to beer, food and fun had to pack 111 fannies into the seats last night. (That's why I offered my lap to so many comely lasses, as the pictures at right will attest.)
But other than directing the sound from the front room, where all the mayhem was taking place, into the back room where more mayhem was taking place, nobody seemed to mind the numbers. They did, however lead The Petes Gregorakis to consider the possibility of making this a two-night event so they don't have to turn away people like they did this year. There was even some fanciful talk about renting out AC's Convention Hall, but fun parties with an abundance of alcohol will generate ideas like that. It was my idea, by the way.
Speaking of alcohol, specifically beer, if you haven't yet sampled Dave Hoffman's Pumpkin Ale, do so before it's gone. Perhaps the finest PA in the state, it actually supplanted my most anticipated brew of the night—Hoffman's Oktoberfest—for two mugs. An excellent blend of spices, malt and hops make this an exceptionally clean brew, perfect for Autumn and Thanksgiving. Then Antoinette brought me a mug of O-Fest and it was all over. Until Dave gave me some of his 15 year Anniversary barleywine. At 11.1%. Then it really was all over.
Chef Extraordinaire Steve Farley lived up to every bit of his billing, producing yet another flawless, delicious German menu. The Dirndl Beauties served both beer and food with their trademark smiles, and the FireHouse Polka Band—2011 Edition—kept the oompah music and the Ein Prosits pumping, and the crowd was equally juiced.
As it should be. This is an Oktoberfest party not to be missed. Celebrity guests like artist Greg Hinlicky and Star Ledger columnist Paul Mulshine were seen singing rousing choruses of "Ein Prosit!" One guest commented, "The only thing missing from this event is the 100-foot long table like in Germany." Yeah, well, that and the sausage Kurt Hoffman used in the story about him and his buddy Hans growing up in Die Faderland—but that's an inside joke for those of you in the front room. Just like the one about The Petes in their Halloween Cow Costume.
Maybe next year, the sound system at Convention Hall will be able to let everybody in on the jokes, because the two-night in a row idea won't work for guys like 76-year old Josef-with-an-F from the band.
Check here for videos: The Petes
©Kurt Epps 2011 All rights reserved