Save the date for Breckenridge’s oktober-FEAST
Restaurants to serve themed menus one weekend each in September and October
BRECKENRIDGE — Oktoberfest isn’t happening this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, but that isn’t stopping Breckenridge’s restaurant community from keeping the Bavarian bravado alive. An alternative festival called oktober-FEAST is happening in restaurants across town on two weekends to give hungry guests multiple opportunities for a taste of Germany.
An homage to the regular event’s multicourse brewmaster dinner, which is traditionally one night at one rotating restaurant, oktober-FEAST allows patrons to dine almost anywhere they chose to experience unique menus. Breckenridge Tourism Office spokesperson Austyn Dineen said that while it is sort of a placeholder to the postponed Oktoberfest, she hopes it can be rolled into the larger festival in future iterations.
Participating businesses range from upscale restaurants, casual establishments and to-go offerings. Dineen said the tourism office wants to make it as accessible as possible for all budgets. Additionally, the different tiers mean people who aren’t comfortable with in-person dining can still sample the offerings.
Required reservations are limited to eight people per table where accepted, and facial coverings are mandatory when not eating or drinking. The public is also able to eat outside on Walkable Main from Sept. 25-27 during the final weekend of the pedestrian mall.
Diners can expect a $65 three-course meal from Hearthstone Restaurant that features kolsch-steamed mussels and Colorado lamb T-bone paired with German-style dark lager. Meanwhile, Soupz On will serve daily specials like Broken Compass Brewing cheese soup and Bavarian lentil with German sausage.
When: Sept. 25-27 and Oct. 2-4
Where: Over 20 participating Breckenridge restaurants
For more: Visit GoBreck.com to view menus, make reservations and purchase steins
Though the restaurant hasn’t hosted the brewmaster dinner, Blue River Bistro is no stranger to themed cuisine. The restaurant has done special evenings diving into different cultures to benefit nonprofits, like Italian dinners for the National Repertory Orchestra and Spanish dinners for Team Breckenridge Sports Club along with multicourse menus for holidays.
For owner Jay Beckerman, signing up for oktober-FEAST was a no-brainer, both as a chance to flex the restaurant’s creativity and stand in solidarity with the local industry.
“Throughout this whole pandemic, we have seen the culinary community in this town and county really band together stronger than the 20 years that I’ve been here and operated the Blue River Bistro,” Beckerman said. “This has been the tightest the restaurant community has been.”
The main entree takes Sakura Farms pork tenderloin, stuffs it with sausage, pepper and Camembert before wrapping it in bacon. Dessert highlights local Higgles Palisade peach ice cream served with a bee sting cake of honey almonds and pastry cream.
Yet the most unique dish is arguably the first course. Chef Dante Tripi puts a unique spin on a Maine lobster roll by enclosing the crustacean in bierock — sweet dough commonly used for meat and cabbage hand pies. Tripi, whose wife is of German descent, makes kraut burgers frequently at home, and he said the idea to use the dough formulated from there.
Each dish can be paired with beer from Outer Range Brewing Co., HighSide Brewing, Breckenridge Brewery or a German wine.
“We wanted to give option on the pairings,” Beckerman said. “We didn’t want to be perceived as a masculine event or masculine menu. We want it to be approachable for all of our guests.”
Beckerman is fond of all the wines picked but said the Dr. Loosen riesling “is the quintessential riesling of the area” and creates a “beautiful” pairing with the bee sting cake.
While Blue River Bistro isn’t serving Paulaner Brewery beers, it once again is the sponsor and can most likely be found at other restaurants. Another staple from Oktoberfest that is returning is the signature stein. Stefan Bast has designed the mugs regularly since 2013 after his art won the prize to be featured on the drink ware in 2011.
Originally from Luxembourg, Bast moved to Breckenridge nine years ago from the Front Range when his wife got a job in the area. The mountains spoke to his European heritage, and he’s glad he’s able to infuse his life into the work for an event that reminds him of home.
Bast has been interested in art since doodling as a child. Though he works digitally now, he tries to keep a hand-drawn feel in his work with thick, bold lines. One of his favorites is 2016’s depiction of a woman riding a bicycle flanked by Breckenridge’s iconic streetlights. He also enjoyed bringing dog sledding to Oktoberfest with the 2019 mug.
Bast said it’s hard to beat attending the festival and seeing his work in person since he rarely gets a similar opportunity with other clients. After he eats some currywurst and soaks in the inspirational revelry, he’ll already start working on the following year’s design in November while the festival is still fresh in his mind.
“I try to give each year a theme so I’m not cannibalizing the same ideas over and over,” Bast said. “And so people who collect the mugs can have a nice range of designs. Sometimes I’ve come up with it; sometimes the tourism office has given me the prompt and the direction they’d like to go.”
This year, the stein is made out of glass, and the imagery focuses on nature as a nod to the town’s conservation efforts. It is also the first of Bast’s steins to feature a person of color.
The tourism office briefly considered honoring front-line workers given the pandemic but decided to go back to the sustainability message when they realized it would be too difficult to recognize everyone’s contributions to fighting the spread of the novel coronavirus and didn’t want to leave people out.
“With the pandemic, single-use plastic is on the rise, so we felt like going back to the design of two people cheersing open space and trails,” Dineen said. “Paying attention to climate, though it has taken a back seat right now, is still as important as ever.”
After you fill up from the feasts, you can burn off some calories with the 19th annual oktober-FEAST 5K. The Breckenridge Recreation Department has made it virtual this year due to the pandemic. The course will be marked by 10 a.m. Sept. 24, and runners will have until 6 p.m. Sept. 27 to finish. Time will be kept using the free Strava app. Registration is $40 for people 18 and older or $25 for participants ages 10-17.
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