10 Highlights of the 2015 Beau’s Oktoberfest
For the 7th year, Beau’s Oktoberfest has come and gone. Once again, it was an amazing weekend of delicious beer, tasty food, great bands, fun activities, and good friends up in Vankleek Hill, Ontario.
Eric and Matías run through the 10 most memorable moments (in no particular order).
1) Taking Part in Traditional Oktoberfest Festivities
E: Yes, believe it or not, there are things to do at Oktoberfest other than drink. Last year I tried my luck at the keg toss for distance and did pretty horribly in the rain, hitting my leg with the keg and bruising it pretty badly. This year I set out to try something new – the sausage eating contest. It was scheduled for 2 p.m. on the Saturday, so I figured that worst case it would be a free lunch. Sitting beside a previous champion I could feel the pressure mounting. The goal is to eat as many 1/4 pound sausages as you can in 10 minutes. The only catch is that no contestant can fall three sausages behind first place, or thou shalt be eliminated. I had a great pace through my first five sausages, eating one a minute and competing, but then as I slowed the others stayed steady. I was eliminated upon completion of my 7th sausage as someone started their 11th. I managed to finish about 5th place out of 12 or 14 competitors, and I am OK with that.
Keg toss for height at Beau’s Oktoberfest in Vankleek Hill.
2)Watching the Team Contests
E: One of my annual highlights is watching the team competition. People get all dressed up and compete in co-ed challenges of keg toss for height, distance and accuracy. Every year the teams look like they are having an amazing time laughing and high-fiving all the way through. Next year Ottawa Showbox will be looking to enter team of our writers and local musicians to give it a whirl.
Skater dropping in from “The Brown Recluse” into the half-pipe at Beau’s Oktoberfest in Vankleek Hill.
E: The addition of skateboarders and a bunch of punk rockers to Oktoberfest may have been one of the best decisions made by organizers. This year they took it up a notch moving setting up a real stage for the bands and placing the half-pipe in a picturesque location perfect for sunset photos. The skaters blow me away every year as they drink beers and defy gravity, flying all over the place on the half-pipe. This year I was also around to catch the keg jumping. This is where a skater propels his body as fast as he can on his skateboard towards a row of kegs (seven of them when I arrived) and then hurls his body over those kegs, leaving his board behind and hoping to land on a board setup for him on the other side. Yeah it is wild. Antique Skate Shop also essentially built a diving board they called “The Brown Recluse” which allowed skaters to drop into the half-pipe from several feet higher than the tip of the pipe (as seen in the photo above). The highest successful drop I saw was from an extra 7 feet in the air I believe. Wild!
The Flatliners rocking the Black Forest stage at Beau’s Oktoberfest in Vankleek Hill.
4) New “Punk Rock” Stage Set-up
M: The Black Forest stage area was a major addition and improvement to the festival grounds and live music experience. In previous years the secondary music area was located on the far opposite corner to the main stage, where the midway was set up this year. While that was all well and good, there was no actual stage and people watching the bands were relegated to tight quarters and pretty terrible sight lines. This year the establishment of the Black Forest stage alleviated those issues, creating an open and separate area for people to hang out and enjoy music that wasn’t at the main stage. Some intense performances by locals Mother’s Children, NECK, HELLbros! and Crvsades (guitarist Emmanuel Sayer cut his hand and unknowingly wiped his own blood everywhere) and The Flatliners from the GTA, who played their brand of punk rock to a loving crowd that sang along the whole time. From skaters tearing up the half-pipe, guilty pleasure dance jams, to ear drum destruction – the Black Forest area was a prime hang location.
Ace Of Spades from David Kawai on Vimeo.
5) The Magic of the Ace of Spades
E: This year House of Targ set up a little games booth near the Black Forest stage. For $1 you could compete against their number 1 wizard in a multitude of games ranging from spin the wheel, rock paper wizard, dice, and war. As Hellbros played on stage I challenged the bearded wizard to war, even though I am a pacifist and also am smart enough to know a wizard could destroy me in a real war. I shuffled the cards and dealt us each a card face down. I was then encouraged to place my card against a speaker on the table so the wizard to do some magic to it. After several weird magical sound effects we flipped our cards. He flipped a measly 6 while I flipped the all-powerful Ace of Spades. As I flipped the card, HELLbros! launched into a cover of Motörhead’s “Ace of Spades.” Needless to say we were all blown away. It was magical.
6) The Eternally Delicious Cask House
E: The normal beer tents are great and every year Beau’s make some incredible beers that I love. But the highlight is always the Cask House or Craft House, however you decide to call it. As in years past, the Cask House killed it again. There were over 70 amazing beers for festival-goers to sample this time around. This year’s set up was really cool. Instead of having a wall of casks and no lines, so a free for all, this year it was a trailer with taps on both sides and winding lines on each side. In my opinion, it was organized much better and patrons seemed to agree. Some of this year’s highlights from the cask area were Cigar City Brewing‘s Hunahpu’s 2015 (imperial stout), Left Field Brewery‘s Grandstand (American pale wheat ale), Ommegang Brewery‘s Hennepin Farmhouse Saison (farmhouse ale) and Bellwoods Brewery‘s Bring Out Your Dead (Cognac barrel aged imperial stout). One of the cooler/strange beers was the Peanut Butter Milk Stout by Belching Beaver Brewery. It was like drinking liquid peanut butter with a smooth stout finish. Quite delicious, but glad it was only a 9 oz. sample.
The singing of the German national anthem during the official keg tapping ceremony at Beau’s Oktoberfest in Vankleek Hill.
7) Ceremonial Keg Tapping
E: The ceremonial tapping of the keg on the main stage is always fun to see. Not everyday I hear the German national anthem and Canadian anthem sang, hear polka music and get handed free beer. On top of all that this year the good folks at Beau’s brought out four candidates for the area to join them on stage. And as Steve Beauchesne of Beau’s said, “There is one thing all parties can agree on…BEER.” It was a nice tough though, just another opportunity to invite people to vote and get informed.
8) Camping is the Best
E: Camp. Just do it! No need to find a designated driver. No need to sit on a crowded school bus. No need to fight with big crowds to get it. Sure it is a little cooler at this time a year but plan ahead because camping is one of my favourite parts of the festival. It means your night doesn’t end early like everyone elses. You can hangout with a bunch of like-minded people, enjoy a campfire, just really take it all in. And this year they had breakfast burritos for us to pruchase the next morning. Camping is the safest, least stressful, and most enjoyable way to ensure you really take it all in.
Fucked Up killing it on the main stage at Beau’s Oktoberfest in Vankleek Hill.
9) Fucked Up Stole the Show
M: Whether you’re a fan of punk or not, if you haven’t seen Toronto’s Fucked Up play live then you’re simply missing out. For over a decade Damian Abraham and the band have used a mix of deranged and wild stage antics and fun and loud punk rock to take things to another level. They haven’t slowed down much at all over the years, and this year’s Beau’s Oktoberfest main stage performance was no exception. The band played some of their best songs including “Black Albino Bones” and “The Other Show,” dipping into their repertoire to blow the audience away. Damian didn’t hesitate to get the crowd involved, jumping off the stage and singing a good portion of the set all the way into the audience. We all got a chance to give him a hug and sing into the mic, and he didn’t miss a beat. Although the cold wind was blowing and the rest of the band was bundled up, Damian showed very little regard for self-preservation as he took off his shirt and belted out his vocals. The mosh pit was like a whirlpool and the overall energy of the festival got kicked up a notch after Fucked Up took the stage.
10) Smooth Operators and Amazing Volunbeers
E & M: After seven years running, the festival just seems to improve every time around. From the big additions, like punk rock area and skateboarders a few years ago, to more behind the scene things like a media tent to charge your devices, Beau’s is going in the right direction. Yes, this is in large part of their great team of organizers, but year after year I am amazed by how engaged and enthusiastic all their volunteers are. It probably doesn’t hurt to call them volunbeers either. Bravo to the entire Beau’s family and their amazing group of volunteers, can’t wait to see what you’ll have in store for us next year. Here’s an obligatory picture of Eric in a banana suit.
Thirsty Thursday: Beau’s Oktoberfest Mix Pack Mix Tape
Beer: Beau’s Mix Pack by Beau’s Brewery
Pairing: Beau’s Oktoberfest playlist
About the Beer: For the people that know me, Beau’s Oktoberfest is my Christmas. I would be thrown into a depression if I could not attend in any given year. The people I’ve met there, including our very own Eric Scharf, Brad Campeau (before he was Brew Donkey), the amazing people at Beau’s, and countless others have been a mainstay in my life. Like the craft beer scene, I’ve seen Beau’s Oktoberfest grow over the last few years from a few beer enthusiasts to an onslaught of new beer lovers. The indie guy in me wants it to stay small, but seeing the growth of an industry that I love makes it even more exceptional.
Beau’s Oktoberfest is now a bona fide music festival as well. I know a few who don’t even like beer but go for the music. This year’s lineup is no exception. I’m pairing the new Beau’s mix pack with bands scheduled to play Oktoberfest on October 2nd and 3rd.
Please visit Beaus.ca for ticket information. DO NOT WAIT!! as tickets are almost sold out!
Haters Gonna Hate is an extra-strong interpretation of Beau’s flagship ale Lug Tread. Haters is a tribute to the very first batch of Lug Tread, which was accidentally super-concentrated… with tasty results. Nine years later, Beau’s recreated this happy accident with Haters Gonna Hate. Unfiltered and orange-hued, this beer has tropical aromas (think mango or papaya), and a mild “cattiness” contributed by the addition of Nelson-Sauvin hops. A clean malt presence allows for balance of moderate-to-high hop bitterness.
Weiss O’Lantern is a pumpkin-wheat beer, spiced with ginger, cinnamon and orange peel. Orange-hued with a tall creamy head, this fall classic allows flavours of pumpkin flesh, citrus and spice to shine through a full wheat body. There are hints of banana and clove, topped off with a satisfying graham-cracker finish. Each batch of Weiss O’Lantern is made with more than 350 pounds of certified organic pumpkin purée.
…and Boom Gose the Dynamite is a hazy, flavourful wheat beer that is based on a recently revived German beer style called a gose. Brewed with an addition of sea salt and organic coriander seeds, expect citrusy aromas followed by a pleasant saltiness and a hint of subtle acidity in each sip. The name “gose” comes from a river that flows through the town of Goslar, in Lower Saxony. The saltiness, which typifies the style, is attributable to the mineral-rich water supply in the region.
Boghopper is an experimental hybrid: a dark and hazy wheat beer, with an amped up hop presence and locally harvested organic bog myrtle for added complexity. Fruit and licorice aromas meld with juicy hops, and an earthy spiciness jumps in mid-palate. Boghopper’s mouthfeel is initially delicate and fruity, followed by assertive waves of herbal tannins. The hop flavour is dominant, and the finish is dry and woodsy.
Beer: Haters Gonna Hate and the love/hate playlist
The Beaches “Strangelove”
Playing Saturday at 5:25 p.m. on the Main Stage.
Yukon Blonde “Make U Mine”
Headlining Friday at 10 p.m. on the Main Stage.
The Elwins “It Ain’t Over ‘Til It’s Over”
Plaing Friday at 6:25 p.m. on the Main Stage.
The Dears “Here’s to the death of all romance”
Playing Friday at 8:55 p.m. on the Main Stage.
Beer: Weiss O’Lantern and the Halloween playlist
The Flatliners “Fangs”
Headlining Saturday at 7:30 p.m. on the Skate Stage
Hellbros “Rock & Roll Acid Zombies” and/or “Dead City Rockers”
Playing Friday at 5:30 p.m. on the Skate Stage
CRVSADES “The Incantations”
Playing Saturday at 6 p.m. on the Skate Stage
The Pack A.D. “Wolves and Werewolves”
Playing Friday at 7:50 p.m. on the Main Stage.
Beer: …and Boom Gose the Dynamite and the explosive playlist
Fucked Up “Echo Boomer”
Playing Saturday at 6:30 p.m. on the Main Stage.
Dig It Up “Too Fun”
Playing Friday at 7 p.m. on the Skate Stage
Powernap “Beautiful Day”
Headlining the Skate Stage on Friday at 8 p.m.
Barrasso “Coup de Dés”
Playing Saturday at 4:30 p.m.
Beer: Boghopper and the froggy playlist
Headlining Friday at 8 p.m. on the Main Stage.
Yukon Blond “Water”
Headlining Friday at 10 p.m. on the Main Stage.
Mother’s Children “Out Of The Dark”
Playing Saturday at 4:45 p.m. on the Skate Stage.
The Pack A.D. “The Water”
Playing Friday at 7:50 p.m. on the Main Stage.
The Nasties “Time to Loose”
Playing Saturday at 5:15 p.m. on the Black Forest (Skate Stage)
The Almighty Trigger Happy “Blood Red And Forever Happy”
Playing Saturday at 6:45 p.m. on the Black Forest (Skate Stage)
Walter Ostanek “Beer Barrel Polka”
Playing Friday and Saturday during the day.
Don’t forget to enter to win a Beau’s & Dine Alone Records prize pack including free vinyl, digital downloads, apparel, and more! Enter here.
Have a great Oktoberfest everyone! Be good to each other and have a designated driver!
Contact me on twitter @danielbordage or at email@example.com for suggestions, comments or just to say hi.
Beau’s Oktoberfest Day 2: Radio Radio, Strumbellas, D.O.A., Wasted Potential & Delicious Craft Beer
Photo: Joey Shithead and D.O.A., the godfathers of Canadian hardcore and punk playing Beau’s Oktoberfest in Vankleek Hill.
While day one was mostly about the music, day two of Beau’s Oktoberfest was more about the wonderful beers and food available, but that’s not to say the music wasn’t excellent.
I awoke in a very muddy campground with the rain only spitting, a pleasant change after the downpour from the night before. I put on what dry clothes I had left, put some grub in my belly and threw on my rain jacket. It was now time to venture to the Cask Haus.
The Cask Haus was a glorious place with nearly 70 casks of ale ready for your sampling convenience. For 1 token ($5) you could get any two 4 oz. samples off the list. What was also great about the Cask Haus was that it was right next to the main stage, so I began my day off sampling a variety of beer to the sounds of Canada’s Polka King, Walter Ostanek. The first order of business was to try Beau’s Hardcore 8.1 which is a malt liquor tribute to iconic Canadian punk rockers D.O.A., who I was excited to see later that day. Don’t let the fact that it is malt liquor scare you away, it is delicious. With a couple more great samples in me, namely Pissed Off Pete’s Pumpkin Porter by Nickle Brook Brewery and Scotchy Scotch Ale By Big Rig were both excellent, it was time to sign up for activities. Many of the activities conflicted with band’s I wanted to see, but the keg toss distance fit in perfectly. I did not do very well, but I had a lot fun trudging through the mud to launch a keg as far as I could.
Antique and Vans skaters on the half-pipe at Beau’s Oktoberfest in Vankleek Hill.
The morning and early afternoon were dedicated to beer sampling, the rest of the afternoon was controlled by punk rock. Wasted Potential, from London, ON, got it all started with their punk rock that fringes on hardcore and which is led by a lead singer with quite the dance moves. Up next was the local band, Audio Visceral, which is made up of Beau’s brewers. The boys always put on a good show and it was cool to watch them surrounded by people drinking Beau’s beer. With Audio done it was time for a double dose of Canadian old school punk with The Nasties and then legends D.O.A.
The Nasties rocking out at Beau’s Oktoberfest in Vankleek Hill.
The Nasties had one speed–fast. Their set was a little strange, as they dedicated a song to Kim Mitchell, and introduced a song as “not an environmental song,” and another by saying, “here is our mandatory cop song… and remember they couldn’t arrested us if we didn’t pay their salary.” Fast and angry they were, but they did also treat the crowd to an Operation Ivy cover, “Knowledge.” From the cover of American legends to the presence of a Canadian legend, it was now time for Joey Shithead and D.O.A. to take the stage. The boys from B.C. are credited as one of the founders of hardcore punk rock music and are still going strong 34 years after their first full-length album (well, Joey is the only original member left). I spent almost the entire set dancing and singing in the pit to the snarls of the beloved grandfather of Canadian hardcore. And I was pleasantly surprised that their new songs, such as “Boneyard,” were just as kick ass as the older stuff they played like “Logjam,” “2+2” and “Know Your Enemy.” It was a great set by the three-piece and if after reading this you really want to see this live, go see D.O.A., Audio Visceral and Lindbergh Babies this Friday October 10th at Zaphod’s, it is also the official Ottawa release party of the Hardcore 8.1 beer.
All that punk rocking can leave a man hungry and thirsty, so I headed to the food tent to check out one of the more than 25 Ontario restaurants being featured. I decided on Olivea from Kingston and their Reuben Sandwich with German Potato Salad, a house made pastrami and sauerkraut sandwich with blowtorch melted Gruyère cheese on rye bread. It was to die for. With some more food in my belly it was back to the Cask Haus for more tasting. Some favourites from this trip were Guilty Conscience by Innocent Brewing Company, Punch Rauch (do you get it? do you get it?) by le Trou Du Diable and Red Rocket by Sawdust City Brewing Co.
The Strumbellas giving us all they have in the rain at Beau’s Oktoberfest in Vankleek Hill.
Now done with the Cask Haus and back to some Beau’s and music. With a Boghopper in hand, one of the most interesting beers I have ever tried, and the rain still coming down, it was time for some alternative-country at the hands of The Strumbellas. The Strumbellas sure knew how to lift our spirits and forget about the rain by playing their dancy sing along “Home Sweet Home.” The band as a whole are very talented and entertaining, but two parts really stuck out. The less obvious one is just how great the violin play is in this band and just how much it adds to their sound. Isabel Ritchie does one heck of a great job. The second part and the more obvious one is just how entertaining David Ritter is. The man wears a baseball cap with Dave written on it and a t-shirt with his own face on it for gosh sakes. He is also ridiculously animated, energetic, engaging and does a mean hip-hop breakdown. With songs like “In This Life” and “Sheriff,” The Strumbellas had me forgetting how soaking wet I was getting.
The last of the live music I saw was the Acadian hip-hop Radio Radio. Their bilingual mish-mash is absolutely perfect and matches up well with their comedic lyrics. They played a good mix of new and old songs and the crowd were loving it. The new stuff like “Et Feel Zoo,” and “Boomerang” fit in great with their older hits like “Jacuzzi” which saw a lot of people singing along. After their set, I headed back to the Bamberg Beer Tent for a final dance party with so many friends, new and old.
Once again Beau’s put on an amazing festival that united craft beer, artisan food, Canadian music, charity and community. They set a new fundraising record this past year, raising $95,000 for community and charities, and an attendance record with more than 19,000 festival-goers in attendance over the two days.
I spent Sunday morning walking to town with a garbage bag in hand helping clean up from the grounds to the brewery to ensure it did not look as post-apocalyptic as Montebello after Rockfest, and then helped with stocking the beer fridge at the brewery. The craft beer community is a very welcoming family that is taking their own approach and adding a personal touch to a mainstream art form, very similar to the punk rock community. As a punk rocker, blogger and citizen, I felt at home and like I belonged. Thank you Beau’s for another incredible year.
Beau’s Oktoberfest Day 1: Joel Plaskett, Rural Alberta Advantage, New Swears & more
Joel Plaskett Emergency brought the east coast flair to end the night after The Rural Alberta Advantage had us dancing to their west coast laments at Beau’s Oktoberfest in Vankleek Hill, this weekend.
Day one was excellent even though it started off a little rocky. Arriving half an hour early for the shuttle buses up to Vankleek Hill, it still took over an hour before I was on a bus and on our way. This meant I missed out on local rockers Fresh Hell, well almost everyone missed out on them actually, but it is great that the festival invited local acts.
The Fandemics rocking out at Beau’s Oktoberfest in Vankleek Hill.
Once I accepted missing out on Fresh Hell, everything was on the up and up. I got my complimentary pretzel and beer and wandered over to the Bamberg tent which housed the punk rock, mini ramp and Antique Skateshop booth. Right next to the tent was a massive half-pipe where Vans and Antique skaters rode all weekend long. Pop punks from Toronto, The Fandemics, were the first band I saw. With skateboarding on both sides of them and people posing for Movember photos with sparkly moustaches, they rocked the ever-growing crowd with some catchy originals. The really impressed me by reaching deep and covering The Replacements’ “Kids Don’t Follow,” and Soul Asylum’s “Need Somebody to Shove.”
New Swears being New Swears at Beau’s Oktoberfest in Vankleek Hill.
With the tent filling up as more and more buses arrived it was time for Vankleek Hill to experience the party madness that is Ottawa’s New Swears. Playing their first show after a three-month European tour, the boys took to the stage dressed head to toe in black and sporting long pink wigs. They started by playing a little of “Stir It Up” by Bob Marley and then got down to business playing their love song “Two Darts” and then “Paradise,” the anthem for those who don’t know their limits. The set continued with they played “Rather be Dead” and “Stay Gold” as fans covered other concert-goers in silly string provided by the band. New Swears were having a blast climbing on each other’s shoulders, amps and the mini-ramp, as well as skateboarding, rolling around on the ground and even forming pyramid. It was great to see the band rock out to so many new faces and hopefully forge many new fans.
Just a snapshot of some of the fine skateboarding to be seen at Beau’s Oktoberfest in Vankleek Hill.
With the punk rocking finished it was time for some food before Rural Alberta Advantage. The tastiest food I sampled all weekend was Brockberry Cafe’s incredible spicy chicken balls. They were homemade lightly breaded chicken balls stuff with jalapeño peppers and blue cheese. And the best part was they were $1 each so they made the perfect snack at any time.
The Rural Alberta Advantage rocking the main stage at Beau’s Oktoberfest in Vankleek Hill.
As the temperature dropped, Rural Alberta Advantage took to the stage to several thousands of fans standing to watch them and several more in the tents comfortably sampling all the delicious beers. The three-piece have such a rich full sound, you would think they were five or more on stage. RAA opened with a new song off their brand new album Mended With Gold. “What a prefect night,” said lead singer and guitarist Paul Banwatt. “How many beers have you tried?” Their new songs sound great, but the crowd was super excited to hear their older material. Songs such as “Don’t Haunt This Place,” “Frank, AB,” “The Dethbridge in Lethbridge,” and their closer “Stamp'” really had the people dancing and singing. Their energy on stage showed just how much fun they were having as well and Banwatt confirmed it by saying “This is unbelievable, so cool, thanks Beau’s, never expected to play an Oktoberfest.”
Fans standing on tables to sing along with Joel Plaskett Emergency at Beau’s Oktoberfest in Vankleek Hill.
It was now time for the main event, and a very enthusiastic Alan Neal from CBC had the pleasure of introducing Joel Plaskett. Neal announced that there were nearly 7,000 people in attendance ready to see one of Canada’s finest singer songwriters. He also took a moment to say “to all you campers, you are the most beautiful people.” Plaskett was on fire on this night rocking through his catalogue with his incredible backing band Emergency. Opening with some songs from Three “Through & Through & Through” and “Deny, Deny, Deny” then into “You’re Mine” from Scrappy Happiness. He had us, he had us, he had us, at that point. The theme of the night was bands looking like they were having as much fun as those watching them, and it continued as Plaskett said, “Hope you are enjoying yourselves, because we sure are.” Being that he was playing Oktoberfest, he could not pass up on playing “Park Avenue Sobriety Test,” which felt very appropriate, but then he took it even further and covered “Beer Run.” That all made sense, but what had me trying to think back to how many beers I had because I couldn’t believe what I was hearing, was Joel Plaskett sampling a Lorde song… yup, that happened. And as time ran out on the night, they closed out the set with “Nowhere With You.”
With people scurrying to the busses back to Ottawa, I headed back to the campground. It began to rain, but considering I was now a beautiful person in the eyes of Alan Neal and I found people dancing around a campfire. I embraced the rain and many new friends in the flickering of the late night flames. Day one was a wonderful success.