The Denver Oktoberfest

It is the 50th anniversary of the Denver Oktoberfest and we decided to go to the opening weekend of this popular event. The Oktoberfest festival takes place over two weekends and draws very large crowds enjoying German beer, food, and folk music. Many of the people who attend Oktoberfest dress in traditional German clothing making it even more festive. In addition to the beer and food, there are also a variety of games available to play, such as keg bowling.

People Getting into the Spirit of Oktoberfest
Bratwurst and Latkes
Listening to Folk Musi
Keg Bowling

There are several types of tickets that you can purchase at the event or in advance, but we’d definitely recommend purchasing tickets in advance as the lines can be quite long. Other than for crafts and merchandise, you must have tickets to get beer, food, and play certain games as cash is not accepted. We chose a ticket option that included a 34 oz souvenir mug with a couple of refills. We had both a hefeweisen and darker Oktoberfest from Spaten. It is definitely important to pace yourself in order not to overdrink and turn a good time into a bad time.

Crowds at the Stein Hoisting Contest
Apple Strudel
Traditional Clothing and Beer Steins
Stein Hoisting

Obviously there is plenty of German food available including different types of bratwurst, currywurst, schnitzle, pretzels, latkes, and apple strudel. We had bratwurst with sauerkraut accompanied with potato pancakes, called latkes, one with sour cream and the other with apple sauce. Later we got a chicken, paprika schnitzel with spätzle as well as apple strudel. With drinking 68 ounces of beer, eating food was an absolute must. The food was really good and definitely reminded us of our time living in Germany.

Bratwurst on the Grill
Getting Our Stein Filled
Crowds Gathering
Paprika Chicken

One of the most popular games was the stein hoisting contest, where people attempt to hold two steins straight out for as long as possible. It was certainly popular for people to watch as well as to participate and having done it in the past, we know that it is extremely difficult. Keg bowling was another popular game with lots of people cheering on those who attempted to knock over kegs with another keg on wheels.

Pretzels to Feed a Crowd
Souvenir Steins
Giant Bobblehead
Beer Hall Tent

Different musicians play throughout the day, all of them playing festive German folk music. People dance and sing along with the various bands that play, obviously participating more and more as the beer continued to flow. In addition to the people dressing up in traditional clothing, there were also plenty of dogs dressed up as well. Going to the Denver Oktoberfest is certainly a fun experience that we would highly recommend. We had a wonderful time enjoying everything that the festival had to offer.

Busier as the Day Went Along
Crashing Kegs


Beer Braised Bratwurst with Homemade Sauerkraut

We had several types of sausages during our time in Europe, but bratwurst was one that we had several times. Unlike here in the United States, bratwurst is not served on a bun unless you are getting it at a festival or market, but we enjoy the convenience of eating them on a bun. To try and replicate the experience of eating bratwursts in Germany, we decided to braise our bratwurst in a German pilsner and make our own sauerkraut. Just like cooking with wine, if you are going to braise your bratwurst in beer, be sure to choose one that you like and would drink on its own. Making sauerkraut was surprisingly simple, but if we do it again in the future, we would probably put it in a slow-cooker and cook it even longer than we did for this recipe. We did go to a local butcher to get a high quality bratwurst as that is an important feature of the bratwursts that we ate overseas. Due to the weather, we broiled our bratwurst, but grilling them would certainly be the best. It turned out to be quite simple and delicious.

Veal Bratwurst in Germany


  • 4 Bratwurst
  • 2 Bottles of Beer (German Pilsner)
  • 3/4 Large White Onion – diced
  • 1 cup Water
  • 1 cup Distilled White Vinegar
  • 1 Head of Cabbage – small, cored and shredded
  • 1/2 tsp Celery Seed
  • 1/2 tsp Onion Powder
  • 1 tsp Red Pepper Flakes
  • 1 tsp Garlic Powder
  • 1 1/4 tsp Sea Salt
  • Ground Pepper to taste
Braising the Bratwurst


Combine the water, vinegar, 2/3 of the diced onion (which is half of the onion diced), cabbage, 3/4 teaspoon sea salt, celery seed, onion powder, 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, and black pepper in a large saucepan and turn the heat on high. Mix the cabbage until the seasonings are evenly distributed and bring to a boil. Cover with a lid and simmer, stirring frequently, for 30 to 45 minutes and the cabbage is tender. In a medium saucepan, combine the beer and onions and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the bratwurst, red pepper flakes, 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, and pepper, be sure that the bratwurst are completely covered with liquid. Simmer the bratwurst for 10 to 15 minutes to allow them to absorb the flavor. Grill or broil the bratwurst for about 5 minutes per side and the skin is evenly browned. Serve on buns with Dijon or spicy brown mustard and sauerkraut.

German Pilsner
Cabbage Mixture
Boiling the Cabbage with Vinegar
Our Version of Bratwurst
Another View of the Bratwurst with Sauerkraut


Christkindlmarket Chicago

Going to the Christkindlmarket in Chicago was definitely an enjoyable experience. This is the second Christmas market that we have attended here in the States and, although there are some differences compared to those that we experienced in Germany, they have both been very authentic. It was extremely cold during our visit to Chicago with wind chill temperatures well below zero, so having a warm glass of Gluhwein was a definite must. We visited the market on Saturday, two days before Christmas, and to say that it was crowded would be an understatement. It seemed that half of the city had shown up to squeeze their way through the maze of stalls.

Making Our Way Through the Crowds
Plenty of Food and Gluhwein
People Everywhere

There was a wide variety of food available, including traditional German favorites such as Currywurst and Bratwurst, but there were options to fit any desire from sweet to savory. There was a pancake house, candy stalls, roasted nuts, cotton candy, ginger bread, hot chocolate, and hot cider. And for those that craved something different that Gluhwein, there was authentic German beer and Riesling wine. For those that wanted to get out of the cold, there was a beer tent with benches and heat lamps for people to relax while they enjoyed a festive drink. There is definitely no excuse for leaving the market thirsty or hungry.

Stuffed Pretzels
Pancake House
Varieties of Sausage

Obviously, beyond the food, there were stalls selling a variety of goods. Some of them were authentic German items, but there were items from around the world. We even saw a stall selling hats and scarves from Ecuador. The most popular stalls were those that sold Christmas ornaments and decorations. One of the more unique stalls that we came across was one which celebrated Krampus, who is supposed to punish children that have misbehaved.

Krampus Stall
Ornaments and Decorations from Bethlehem
Traditional Christmas Items

It goes to show that you don’t have to fly over to Europe to find a good Christmas Market. Next holiday season, check out the cities near where you live to see if there is one in your area. Obviously, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t visit the Christmas markets of Europe, they are truly magical.

Beer Tent
Entrance to the Market