Oktoberfest celebrates German food, beer

PEOTONE, Ill. "Septemberfest" just doesn't have quite the same ring to it. For at least a week now, German beers have been poured, Schnitzel has been fried, and the bands have played. While many people think of the Chicago Brauhaus or the Berghoff, but people in the southern village of Peotone have plenty to brag about. Vegetarians need not apply.

The National Pork Board should erect a shrine here. Because at the Peotone Bier Stube - a Bavarian Lodge tucked away along a country road - pig is big.

It's pounded thin, then dredged in flour, sauteed with either spinach and cheese, or mushrooms, onions and bacon, then assembled on a platter with an assortment of other sausages and chops. Whole suckling pig is also spit-roasted, served as a special; enormous Fred Flinstone-sized shanks are also crispy on the outside, juicy within. It's all served within a building and beer garden recalling Old World excess.

"It's a beautiful little town, there's only like three thousand people here you know, and we thought it would be a great place; the building we found it's from the 1920s and it looks like a Bavarian building," said Karl Ditschler, Peotone Bier Stube.

A farmer's platter feeds at least two: bratwurst, thuringer, knackwurst and pork shank arrive with cabbage and sauerkraut. Sauerbraten is another classic - roast beef is lightly pickled in vinegar and red wine, then slowly braised and doused in a deep, rich gravy. Starters include baked oysters Rockefeller, topped with creamed spinach and bacon.. or a breaded puck of camembert cheese and a lightly fruity raspberry sauce. The bar is a testament to World War Two memorabilia, as well as a number of strong German beers, offered either on tap or by the bottle.

"We have 10 beers on tap. Our number one beer is Warsteiner, and we have the King Ludwig...perfectly suited for this food. The pork roast and the dumplings and the hearty German food."

This time of year, there's also plenty of live music and entertainment out in the beer garden.

Ditschler says even though the name of the event implies an October celebration, history of a royal wedding that was moved up has forever altered its start time.

"The weather wasn't good enough for them, it got cold and rainy, so they decided to bring it back into September and that's what we do here too."

One thing not to be missed at the bier stube: The sight and sound of their Oktoberfest musician playing "Edelweiss" on the cowbells.

Peotone Bier Stube

306 N. Harlem Ave., Peotone


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