Skip to content

Missing Oktoberfest? 5 ways to safely celebrate your love of beer in the US this fall

Oct. 14, 2020
8 min read
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

Oktoberfest is a beloved European tradition embraced around the world, including the United States and Canada. When beer aficionados say they're planning to celebrate Oktoberfest, clarification is required: Are these fermented froth devotees headed to Munich, Germany, for the world's largest two-week homage to beer? Or are they simply participating in another event in honor of the German original?

For more TPG news and deals delivered each morning to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter here.

Unfortunately, the coronavirus pandemic resulted in Oktoberfest cancellations across most of the world.

But beer-lovers aren't fair-weather fans, and breweries and enthusiasts alike have vowed to keep the festival spirit alive this year. "There are so many local craft breweries around these days," TPG reader Albert Ellenich said on Facebook. "Most near me regularly brew seasonal specials, so I plan to continue exploring their Oktoberfest offerings. I like supporting [local] businesses."

(Photo by Alina Rosanova/Getty Images)

There are dozens of contenders for great beer destinations in the U.S., but these are a handful of our absolute favorites. Best of all, fall foliage is currently peaking across the nation, and many of the best destinations for autumn leaves overlap with the most popular beer cities. So, if you're looking for road trip inspiration or happen to live nearby, these are five amazing places to get your brew fix this fall.

Asheville, North Carolina

New Belgium Brewing Company in Asheville, NC. (Photo by Jacob Biba for The Washington Post/Getty Images)

If you're looking for a health-conscious, outdoor-friendly Oktoberfest experience, this so-called "Napa Valley of beer," according to NPR, has stunning scenery alongside its celebrated small-batch craft brews. While Asheville's official Oktoberfest event has been canceled for 2020, there are plenty of other ways to get your drink on in a safe, socially distanced manner.

Related: Here's where you can find the best fall foliage of 2020

This southern mountain town's original brewery, Highland Brewing Company, is open for tours and tastings with COVID-19 safety measures in place, as are Asheville Brewing Company (which also offers pizza) and Green Man Brewery. Fans of sour beers will want to try the seasonal Pompoen Pumpkin Sour at the Wicked Weed Brewery, which is offering reservations for tastings and tours via Resy.

TPG reader Dianne Jobson Cargile told the TPG Lounge she "absolutely loves" Asheville's beer scene. "They’ve got so many great small breweries up there," she said on Facebook. If you're not comfortable dining or drinking out just yet, Cargile added that she orders Asheville's local Oktoberfest brews ahead of time for pick-up, so she can enjoy them from the safety and comfort of her home.

Sign up for our daily newsletter

Austin, Texas

Bangers Bar in Austin Texas. (Photo by NicolasMcComber/Getty Images)

As evidenced by the constant stream of bachelor and bachelorette parties that invade the city during non-pandemic times, Austin has become one of the most popular cities for festivities in the nation. The Texas capital's beer scene is no exception. With nearly 40 craft breweries in the city limits and dozens of others doable as a day trip, there are new varieties to try on a near-daily basis and no end of venues at which to sample them.

If you aren't sure where to start, try Banger's Sausage House and Beer Garden on popular Rainey Street to sample more than 200 craft beers on tap, many of which are local, small-batch or both. Or, stop in at East Austin's Central Machine Works, a former factory-turned-beer hall, for a socially distanced sip or two in the expansive open-air back yard. And if you're looking for a novel way to get from pub to pub, you can always book one of Austin's infamous PubCrawlers (although locals will roll their eyes at you).

Denver, Colorado

Denver usually hosts one of the largest Oktoberfests in the United States, although this year's festival was canceled in July 2020. (Photo by Garrett Ellwood/MLS via Getty Images)

Denver's pride in beer is legendary. The greater Denver area boasts more than 70 breweries, with a rich history dating all the way back to the 1850s during the Gold Rush era. The region is home to the ubiquitous Coors brand, which was founded in 1873 in nearby Golden, as well as the nationwide favorite, Blue Moon.

Gold as a mineral may not have been a lasting resource, but the settlers who stayed have struck it rich in other ways. More than a quarter-million beer lovers flock to the region each year for Denver's six-day Oktoberfest gathering, which has been called the "best Oktoberfest in the United States" by both Maxim Magazine as well as USA Today, although the 2020 event was canceled due to pandemic precautions.

But visitors and locals alike can still raise a glass of gold this fall. RiNo Beer Garden and Lowry Beer Garden both offer "Oktoberfest vibes" and authentic German snacks with a decidedly Colorado twist in a safe, socially distanced outdoor setting, according to Thrillist, while the Denver Beer Co. Brewery is gaining popularity with young locals for its focus on small-batch brews.

Grand Rapids, Michigan

Founders Brewing Company in Grand Rapids, MI. (Photo courtesy of Founders Breweing Co./Facebook)

A contender for the title of Beer City, USA, this Michigan town boasts more than 80 breweries within city limits. Founders Brewing Company, the largest brewery in Michigan, calls Grand Rapids home, and the city even offers a Beer City Brewsader app​ complete with "passport stamps" so fans can track their brewery visits and claim rewards.

If you're the kind of beer drinker who values the experience as well as the taste, the Grand Rapids Beer Tours company can safely chauffeur you around in style. Under normal circumstances, the tour company offers experiences every weekend — but due to COVID, slots are limited and health-focused. So if you're interested, reach out to the company ahead of time to book your private tour.

Grand Rapids isn't the only hotspot for beer in the area. Wisconsin is well-known for its beer culture in addition to its cheese — some of the biggest beer brands, including Miller and Pabst, are based in Milwaukee across Lake Michigan.

Portland, Maine

Be sure to check out Allagash Brewing in Portland, ME. Photo by Derek Davis/Portland Portland Press Herald/Getty Images.

Both Portlands made it onto our list of contenders — the one in Oregon as well as this seaside city in Maine. The northeast destination won out, however, because the Maine port is famous for having the most breweries per capita in the U.S.

The metric may a bit of a gimmick, but the city's brews are anything but. Local family-owned Shipyard Brewery has brought back its seasonal flavor favorites such as the Pumpkinhead, a crisp wheat ale enhanced with cinnamon and nutmeg for that quintessential fall taste. And just in time for Halloween, the Allegash Brewing Company's Haunted House Dark Hoppy Ale will flit through your dreams like a phantom of happier times, long after you washed down your last pint.

Wondering what it's like to live like a local in such a hoppy town? Stop by the local dive bar, Maps, for an experience that will delight more than your beer palate. Reviewers say that the grilled cheese sandwiches here are delicious and pair well with the brews on tap, while others are impressed with the "great beer selection and even better homemade cakes."

If you enjoy a good speakeasy vibe, but with beer instead of cocktails, the Bramhall may suit your tastes. Here, you'll find comfort food and an extensive list of beers and wines to offset the mixed drink menu.

Bottom line

Don't live in one of these cities, or don't plan to hit the road any time soon? Don't fret: Oktoberfest can still be yours. Many local breweries are still celebrating Oktoberfest in various ways.

"Support your local small businesses!" TPG reader Erica Clay Lukas said on Facebook. "Go explore [safely]! Most [of your local breweries] will even offer to-go cans or bottle sales, or growler fills if their taprooms aren’t open, or if you don’t feel comfortable staying to indulge."

Featured image by Getty Images

Top offers from our partners

How we chose these cards

Our points-obsessed staff uses a plethora of credit cards on a daily basis. If anyone on our team wouldn’t recommend it to a friend or a family member, we wouldn’t recommend it on The Points Guy either. Our opinions are our own, and have not been reviewed, approved, or endorsed by our advertising partners.
See all best card offers

TPG featured card

Best card for premium perks while traveling
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards

2 - 10X points
10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
2X2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day

Intro offer

75,000 bonus miles
Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

Annual Fee

$395

Recommended Credit

740-850
Excellent
Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,400+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and our Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023
Best card for premium perks while traveling
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
2X2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

    75,000 bonus miles
  • Annual Fee

    $395
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    740-850
    Excellent

Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,400+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and our Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023