Ah, fall: the season of leaves changing, when our thoughts turn to beer. Since traditional Oktoberfests in the German tradition start in September—because the weather's better—it's time to start planning now. Here's what's on tap around the Northwest:
• The party's already half over at Widmer Brothers Brewing's Oktoberfest, but tomorrow the Portland brewery will still have plenty of ale and musical performances from Tango Alpha Tango, Quiet Life, and roving accordian players.
• Mount Angel in Oregon, not far from Salem, goes all out for its Oktoberfest September 13–16. The local Bavarian heritage means that there's a glockenspiel and German music. Organizers claim that it's Oregon's largest folk festival.
• Skamania Lodge on the Columbia Gorge hosts its fourth annual Celebration of Beer Weekend September 22 & 23. A dozen Washington and Oregon breweries are represented, and the lodge's buffet has light, not-at-all unhealthy offerings like cheesy ale soup and beer bacon cheffar dumplings. A Beer School session covers the nuts and bolts of brewing, and the Sunday Kegs and Eggs brunch wraps up the weekend. The Lodge offers packages for tastings, food, and a forest-view room for $259.
• Oktoberfest is basically the highlight of the year in Leavenworth, where the event covers three weekends starting October 5 & 6. Transportation around the Bavarian town is free, and there are four stages of live entertainment. Every Saturday the mayor will tap a keg in the middle of town.
• The indoor Oktoberfest Northwest in Puyallup runs October 5–7, and after 7pm it's not for families. Wiener Dog Races are on Sunday, and there's a 5k Stein dash so drinkers can work off the beer calories—but since you run with stein in hand, it's not terribly good for that.
• San Juan Oktoberfest also takes place in, who'd have guessed, October—Saturday, October 6, to be precise, at San Juan Fairgrounds in Friday Harbor. A family-friendly version precedes the adult event, with games and musical entertainment at both.