Celebrate Oktoberfest without having your own Euro debt crisis

Good thing it’s not soda. Photo courtesy of German-American Steuben Parade of NY.

More excited for seasonal beers than Hallowen? Us too. Feel like you always miss out on beer festivals because tickets cost more than your monthly metro card? The worst. Oktoberfests are magical places where you can forget “empty calories,” forget your roommate who doesn’t drink, and forget that it’s probably not healthy to pick your favorite season based on the beer it produces. What you can’t seem to forget, though, is your budget, and beer festivals can be really damn expensive. With general admissions costing upwards of $60, many beer aficionados are left pitifully popping Key Foods’ finest in their kitchens wearing last year’s lederhosen because they don’t have the funds to party like it’s Germany somewhere better. We can help you change that. Here are three ways you can partake in Oktoberfest without breaking the bank:

You know those people that greet you at the event entrance and tell you where to go? Volunteers. A lot of beer festivals provide the opportunity to help out at their festival, provided you meet certain age/sobriety requirements, and eureka! You get to go for free.

Typically, admittance to festivals is split into two day parts: one session in the afternoon, and a second session in the evening. They’re slightly hard to come across, but some festivals offer rewards for helping out — like attending the next session as a ticketed guest. Yes, you have to work — I said it was free, not freeloading — but trading a few hours behind a keg for a few hours in front of 100 is worth the wait in our opinion. Some festivals that reward you for being a devout beerian (all of these are in Manhattan, but we found some Brooklyn stuff below):

Das Best Oktoberfest
Oct. 20
LA Venue, 608 West 28th Street
Session I: 12pm-4pm
Session II: 5:30pm-9:30pm
Ticket price: $76 advance, $85 on site

What you do: Ticket sales; handing out glasses, cups to attendees; assist with set up and break down of event;  assist with general surveillance and exits in designated areas;  deliver ice, tables and booth orders; monitor designated entertainment areas.

There’s no deadline listed, but you should email the organizers to apply ASAP.

NYC Craft Beer Festival Harvest Edition
Nov. 10
Pier 57, 15th St. & West Side Highway, Manhattan
Session I: VIP 12:30-4pm; GA 1:30pm – 4pm
Session II: VIP 6-9:30pm; GA 7-9:30pm

What you do: Assist festival coordinators with various tasks.

What you get: Volunteer for the first session, access to the second as a guest; volunteer for the second session, access to an ‘after hours’ beer sampling party.

What you should know: Must be 21 years of age. Passion for craft beer appreciated, but not required. There’s no deadline listed, but you should also apply ASAP because these things fill up fast.

There are plenty of events going on that offer complimentary admission. In a lot of cases, you have to cough up cash for the goods once you get there, but unless you’re (insert rapper), you probably won’t spend the $75 it costs to go to a ticketed festival.

OktoberfestNYC in action. Via Facebook.

Oktoberfest NYC
1 Penn Plaza
33rd Street & 8th Ave, Manhattan
Sept. 22-Oct. 7

The mother of all New York Oktoberfests. Truly a “fest,” the event runs the entire 16 days of the “real” event in Germany. Festival goers can stroll (or stumble) through almost 10,000 square feet of festival space, enjoying indoor and outdoor areas, German beverages and cuisine, and a variety of other activities oft overlooked by one-day Oktoberfests. Table reservations are available for a fee, but the event is open to the public with no cover charge.

Oktoberfest @ 230 Fifth Rooftop Bar
230 Fifth Avenue, Manhattan
Sept. 22-Oct. 7

Why celebrate Oktoberfest on the ground like a peasant when you can celebrate in a rooftop garden and penthouse lounge? 230 FIFTH offers free admission to its two-week long homage, with beer deals ranging from a reasonable enough $6 bottle, $8 half liter mug and $16 full liter mug. Bratwurst platter for $9.

Octoberfest @ Buddha Beer Bar
4476 Broadway, Manhattan
Sept. 29

They may have missed the German spelling, but there will be plenty of German beer and German/Austrian cuisine at this fest. If you’re feeling ambitious, make the trek up near the Bronx between 12-7pm—they’ll reward you with a glass when you get there.

Octoberfest @ Standings 
43 East 7th Street, Manhattan
Oct. 4

Love beer, but don’t understand what all this German business is all about? Standings is having an American Octoberfest starting at 6pm on Oct. 4 where you can enjoy a few Octoberfest brews without feeling like an ex-pat. Plus, free brats from Wechshlers from 7:30pm on.

Ich bin ein drunkard.

Stay in Brooklyn and enjoy specials at these bars/events/sausages; they’re not quite full festivals, but they will go easy on your wallet.

The Gibson
108 Bedford Ave., Williamsburg
$1 off beer, wine and well drinks until 8pm throughout the month of October

One Stop Beer Shop
134 Kingsland Ave., Greenpoint
The shop is offering Oktoberfest beer cocktails, rotating Oktoberfest taps; buy three bottled beers and get a pretzel; go to a happy hour Oct. 17 8-9pm and get a free bag of pretzels.


Brooklyn Brewery
79 N 11th St., Williamsburg, Oct. 2
Beer + Brats vs. Homelessness at the Lutheran Social Services Oktoberfest fundraiser. All you can drink/eat tickets are $75 in advance or $100 at the door with all proceeds going to LSS efforts to combat poverty in NYC (get tickets).

Radegast Hall & Biergarten
113 N 3rd St., Williamsburg, through Oct. 6
Pig roast, live music and a traditional German mug-holding competition, beer tastings and more.

The Bell House
149 Seventh St., Gowanus, Oct. 10
Octoburlesque! Expect electro-polka, lederhosen, sausages and scantily clad beer wenches. $10 admission (get tickets).


Die Koelner Bierhalle
84 St. Marks Pl.,  Park Slope
No determined ‘deals’ per say but they are celebrating with music, contests, costumes, and “lots of surprises and giveaways!”

Greenwood Park
555 Seventh Ave., South Slope
If you missed Freaktoberfest last weekend… but with the newly instated no-kids-after-4pm policy we expect the adult shenanigans to…

Die Koelner Bierhalle
84 St. Marks Pl., Park Slope
New Park Slope temple to authentic German brews and juicy sausage has Oktoberfestivities on tap for the full 17 days of 9/22-10/7 including live music and Bavarian costume contests.

Spritzenhaus 33 33 Nassau Ave., Greenpoint

Spuyten Duyvil 359 Metropolitan Ave., Williamsburg

Brooklyn Buschenschank 320 Court St., Carroll Gardens

Where to stuff sausage down your throat (i.e., eat German food)

Der Kommissar
559 Fifth Ave., Park Slope
The Family Sampler is $65  for ten different sausages, from frankfurter to veggie to leberkase, so go with a crew and stuff yourself with the best of the wurste over board games and Breaking Bad.

Schnitzel Haus
7319 Fifth Ave., Bay Ridge
There’s an extensive list of German and Belgian beers and Yelp-acclaimed best German food around. Not especially bargain-friendly at dinner, but the portions are big so go with friends and share a wurste sampler. Or get your freelancer/funemployed friends to converge for an $8  kielbasa lunch.

Cafe Steinhof
422 Seventh Ave., Park Slope
The $6 gulasch on Mondays will be sure to cure your early-onset winter blues.

What did we miss? Add to the comments!