by Patriots Daily Kitchen Staff

This week we have a meeting between the unanimous media picks for the 3rd and 4th best teams in the AFC East.

Buffalo and New England are the poor sisters of the division according to the national and local media. It looks like they’re still going to bother playing the game, so we may as well have some food and drink to go with it.

What to Eat?

Octoberfest started on Sept 18th this year and runs to October 4th. It’s a day longer than usual because it is the 200th anniversary of the original octoberfest.

In honor of Octoberfest we’ll be making wurst, or German sausages. Because this game features two of the lesser teams in the AFC East, we’ll go with two of the lesser known sausages.

First, Knackwurst. Knackwurst are sized like fat hot dogs. Meant to be eaten as a finger food, but usually served plated or on buns outside Germany. Their pork and beef mixture is well seasoned with garlic. The casing is thick and some people prefer to remove it before cooking. The thick casing is what gives it the “crack” or “Knack” in it’s name.

Like hotdogs, because of the smoking knackwurst is usually partially to cooked and only needs to be finished or reheated. This isn’t 100% the case in the US, so you will have to check the packaging.

Weisswurst is “white” sausage”. This is a blend of veal and pork. Unsmoked, it is traditionally a breakfast or midmorning food. Before refrigeration the lack of smoking meant it would spoil quicker than other wursts.

It is one of the lightest and smallest wursts. The seasoning will usually consist of lemon, cardamom, onion and parsley. Weisswurst are always cooked in their casing, but the casing is removed before eating. Or the wurst is sliced down the middle and the meat is eaten with a fork leaving the casing behind. But we’re not in Bavaria, it’s just fine served on a bun.

Weisswurst is always raw, and so it always has to be fully cooked before eating.

Weisswurst is usually only available at specialty grocers. Knackwurst should be available at grocery stores that don’t suck.

Both Weisswurst and Knackwurst can be boiled before grilling. This will help heat the Knackwurst through, and will cook the weisswurst. 20 minutes at a simmer, not a full rolling boil, will do it.

Weisswurst are meant to be white, so they wouldn’t be grilled in Germany. I like things grilled, so I grill both Weisswurst and Knackwurst after I boil them.

A lot of people like to boil in beer with sliced onions. Doing so doesn’t add anything to the wurst, they’re in casings.

If you want to boil the wursts in beer and onions. And then boil down the beer and onions, into caramelized beer onions. Well that is another story. Just don’t expect it to flavor the wursts very much.

If you’re going that route, do not use a hoppy beer. The concentration of the beer will concentrate the bitterness. Use a nice octoberfest like Narragansett Fest (see below).

That’s all there is to it. No list of ingredients needed this week.

OK, if you insist:

  • 1-2 Weisswurst per person
  • 1-2 Knackwurst per person
  • 2-4 buns, sized to the wurst per person
  • mustard
  • German style potato salad (vinegar based)
  • 1-2 onions if desired.

Heat wursts in simmering water for 20 minutes.
If desired, sub in a beer for some of the water and add 1-2 peeled sliced onions.
Remove wursts from liquid, bring the liquid up to a full boil. Peel casings off the wursts. Grill wursts for a couple of minutes per side, just long enough to get some nice grill marks.

Top with mustard. Traditional Bavarian mustard is sweet, I prefer spicier mustards like Dusseldorf style horseradish or plain brown mustard.
Add your onions if you made them.
Serve with pretzels, beer, and German potato salad.

What to drink?

It is mid September, and that means one thing as already given away by the food – it is time for the annual Patriots Daily Buffet Table Octoberfest review.

This is the fourth year we’ve covered Octoberfests, so we’re also going to cover new Fall seasonals and the odd beer called Imperial Octoberfest as well. Most of the other Octoberfests out there have already been covered in 2008 and 2009.

Narragansett Fest

On the new octoberfest front, Narragansett has added Narragansett Fest. It is packed in nice 16 ounce cans, and it pretty cheap at about $8 for a 6 pack of pounders. Look for the orange cans with the king drinking beer on it (right).

That is Gambrinus, real name Jan Primus, a knight who invaded Cologne to depose the archbishop and free the brewers from his rule. This dispute over taxes lead to a decrease in the church’s civil power and the rise of civil authority.

As usual, every historical event started because some people wanted some beer.

Narragansett is mostly known for their namesake lager. In my opinion it is one of the best beers made in it’s style. Still, the American Lager style is a very light beer, and people expecting the Fest to be more of the same are in for a surprise. In a blind test I believe it would fool a lot of people, who would be convinced it came from one of the major German or American craft breweries.

5.5% alcohol by volume, and brewed with a range of malts traditionally found in German beers – Pilsner, Vienna, Munich and Dark Munich.

It is a malty beer, as octoberfest should be, but there is hop balance as well. At 22 bittering units it’s almost twice as bitter as the standard Narragansett Lager, and close to 3 times the bitterness you’d find in a Bud or Coors light.

Narragansett is a Rhode Island brand, so what does it have to do with Buffalo? The beer is actually brewed and packaged in Western NY at the Genessee/High Falls/North American Breweries brewery.

Genessee just installed a 24 ounce canning line, so maybe next year Narragansett Fest will be in even awesomer 24 ouncers.

An Octoberfest from Germany that we’ve never featured is Ayinger Octoberfest-Marzen. It is amoung the best Octoberfests made in Germany, however you’ll only find it in single half liter bottles. No 6 packs, no cases. And it will cost from $3-4 dollars a bottle.

It is a good beer, but to me it’s too sweet. Still worth trying, but hard to recommend as a go to beer, or a beer you’d buy in quantity for a party/tailgate/or other gathering because of the price.

Have one of those Ayingers and then switch to those cheap and good Narragansett Fest cans.

Now for the “Imperial Octoberfests”. We’ve written about the “Imperial” trend before, basically it’s taking a beer style and making it bigger. Traditionally this was done with Russian Imperial Stout, a big version of stout brewed in England to export to the Imperial court of Russia. Hence the use of “Imperial” whenever someone gets the idea to try this again.

An “Imperial” version will always have higher alcohol. It will sometimes be darker, and it will usually be hoppier than the normal style.

It should retain enough of the original beer style so it’s a recognizable scaling up.

In some ways the scaling can be done for Octoberfest. They’re already fairly big beers for traditional lagers and being balanced toward malt they can be scaled up without becoming too bitter.

The central point of Octoberfest however, is being a beer that can be drunk by the liter, in giant steins, all day long. By “imperializing” the style that ability is lost. An Imperial Octoberfest is a nightcap, drunk once the Octoberfest or the daylight is gone.

The first is The Kaiser by Avery Brewing. 9.3% ABV and 24 IBUs. A malty, sweet, strong beer. A Doppelbock version of an Octoberfest. The Kaiser was the only example of an Imperial Octoberfest that I knew of, until Heavy Seas brewing introduced their new one.

Heavy Seas Mutiny Fleet Prosit! Imperial Octoberfest Lager it’s a long name. One you’ll have trouble saying after drinking a Prosit!. Maybe that is a built in selfdefense mechanism. The website is a bit out of date as the finished beer ended up at 9% ABV, right in the ballpark of The Kaiser.

A warning about Prosit! The alcohol is hardly noticeable, it would be easy to drink a few of these thinking it’s just a normal beer.

Prosit! brings us to a change in one of the Buffet Table’s favorite Octoberfests. In the past we sang the praises of Clipper City BaltoMarzhon. This beer is no longer made.

Clipper City restructured their beers into different “fleets” based on alcohol strength.

Prosit! is in the “Mutiny Fleet”. BaltoMarzhon has been dropped a bit in alcohol to 5.75% from 6%. It has been renamed to Marzen and is part of the “Clipper Fleet” beers under 6% ABV.

That does it for the Octoberfest year in review. Now for the new Fall seasonals.

It seems like the trend this Fall is either Dark and lightly smoked, Americanized Extra Special Bitters or Pumpkin.

Magic Hat Hex Ourtoberfest replaces the previous Fall Seasonal Roxy Rolles. Magic Hat can be hit or miss, and it seems like whenever they hit upon a good new recipe they are determined to drop it as possible. Hex is a winner. Instead of overly spiced it has a pie or baked good type aroma and flavor. Possibly from the use of darker malts, including a small portion of Cherry wood smoked malt. 5.4% ABV.

Sierra Nevada goes slighty smoked as well with their new Tumbler Autumn brown ale It is a little rough edged due to the use of freshly roasted malt, in general malt is aged after kilning to allow for mellowing. I’m not sure how much I like this one, not to say I dislike it either. I bought a 12 pack and it was eventually all drank. 5.5% ABV.

From Plymouth, MA, Mayflower Brewing’s new Fall seasonal is Autumn Wheat. This one isn’t to be confused with the ubiquitous light wheat ales everyone and their brother puts out during the summer. It’s a dark wheat beer. Somewhere between the Dunkleweizen and Brown Ale styles. Smells and tastes like breadcrust. The ABV isn’t given on the bottle, but it seems to be in the 5 to 6% range. Very similar to the Sierra Nevada Tumbler despite being wheat based.

For the new Fall ESBs:

Southern Tier Harvest ESB tastes stronger than it is at 6.7%. Making it a tweener between session beers and bigger beers. It is another NY state beer.

Goose Island Harvest is another “American” ESB or Extra Special Bitter. 5.7% ABV and 35 IBUs from Cascade hops. One of the best things about “Americanized” ESBs is that they really annoy pedantic British beer fans who will whine that they’re not real ESBs.

That leaves us with what is new in the world of pumpkin beers.

Sam Adams Harvest Pumpkin is only available in the Harvest mixed 12 pack, no problem as the other beers are good as well. This one doesn’t scream pumpkin pie spice, it seems like more of an apple pie beer. It tastes like Fall baked goods. 5.7% ABV

Southampton Pumpkin from Southampton Ale House in New York is, well a pumpkin beer. Tastes like spices and is in between a pale ale and an amber ale. 5.5% ABV.

Blue Point from Long Island has also released a Pumpkin Ale. I haven’t had this one. I’m sure it tastes like Pumpkin and Spice.

If you’re heading to Gillette, there is one other new seasonal. The Patriot Homebrew Competition beer available this year is a Rauchbier, or smoked beer (lager). These are brewed with a high proportion of smoked malt, so if you like bacon in your beer try this one.