Pig Minds’ twist on a traditional celebration

By Nick Ostdick 

MACHESNEY PARK — A combination of specialty beer releases and German festival culture will be on-tap during Pig Minds Brewing Company’s sixth annual Oktoberfest celebration and party Saturday at the Machesney Park brewery.

The celebration will begin at noon and admission is free. Other activities throughout the day will include live music from both regional German polka and modern pop/rock groups, games, and German-style food offerings and menu specials. In addition, souvenir beer steins and other merchandise will be available for purchase during the event.

Any authentic Oktoberfest celebration is really a vehicle for two things: food and beer. Pig Minds seasonal Oktoberfest-style beer – more traditionally referred to as a Marzen – will be on tap as a featured offering; however, as with any Pig Minds beer, heritage is seamlessly blended with a more forward-thinking, innovative approach. Whereas as an actual Oktoberfest beer in the traditional Munich style is brewed using a lager yeast – one of two types of brewer’s yeast designed for lower fermentation temperatures and a more malty-tasting beer – Pig Minds brewmaster Carson Souza uses a hybrid ale-lager yeast, which imparts a more unique flavor in the finished product.

“You get a ton of malt aroma, sure, but it’s also got a traditional German profile,” Souza says. “We also upped the hop profile a bit as well. It’s sweet, but also nice and dry. It’s a crusher.”

The use of Summit hops gives Souza’s Oktoberfest a clean, firm bitterness that is tailor-made for pairing with sausages, pretzels, and other Oktoberfest eats. And, in keeping with Pig Minds style, those eats also come from a unique perspective. Since the brewery opened in 2012, the menu has consisted of 100 percent vegan dishes, each of which takes traditional pub and brewery staples like burgers, nachos and chicken wings and render them without meat, dairy, or eggs. The Pig Minds culinary team will offer vegan interpretations of German dishes, each of will be field-tested for pairing with Souza’s beer.

“When I designed this beer, I totally went for a more traditional Marzen that cries out for mustard, a pretzel, schnitzschule, all that,” Souza says. “I hoping to get into the kitchen soon to help our team finalize the food menu.”

Pig Minds Oktoberfest beer is one of the highest-caliber of its style across the region – it’s a complex, yet easy-drinking beer that will satisfy experienced beer enthusiasts and newcomers alike. But the brewery plans to have a number of other special releases on-hand during the celebration to quench a wide-variety of thirsts. For example, Fall For Revenge, an ale brewed with local cherries that has quickly become a fan-favorite, will be tapped for the fest and will also see special bottling and distribution for the first time in the coming months. Other fall beers available Saturday will include Phil-Up, a traditional English brown ale.

Beer aside, Souza says what really draws people to Pig Minds Oktoberfest is that it’s just a great party – a wonderful moment for fans of the brewery and staff to celebrate the changing of the seasons together. Jerrica Clinkenbeard, Pig Minds bar manager, believes this event goes a long way toward creating and strengthening relationships between the brewery and its customers.

“Our Oktoberfest is my favorite Pig Minds celebration because it’s so much fun to celebrate the changing of the seasons with all the familiar faces in our community,” Clinkenbeard says. “

Pig Minds Brewing Company is at 4080 Steele Dr., Machesney Park.

For more information visit pigmindsbrewing.com. R.

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