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Things to drink at Oktoberfest that are not beer

By Stephanie Hayes

International Bitterness Units. Dry hopping. Fermentable sugars.

Beer, once the pale, watery symbol of casual consumption, has become bigger than itself. Everyone is an expert. The craft beer craze has Taylor from accounting explaining her home brew project on the elevator. Taylor's beer tastes like socks.

Breweries continue to pop up on every corner of Tampa Bay, and, well, the world. (I recently tried some local brews in Greece.) It's easy to become persona non grata in your social circle if you don't imbibe. It's also true that beers have gotten way more delicious and dynamic. Between sours and hefes and stouts, it's possible for a non-beer drinker to find something that suits.

But that's not what we're going to do today. If you're not really into something, the last thing you want is someone telling you over and over why you should be (see: Game of Thrones).

First off, it's Oktoberfest time in Tampa Bay, and we have a list of sudsy parties this weekend and beyond. Plus, our beer expert Justin Grant explains what makes an Oktoberfest beer a staple for autumn and points you to some notable local varieties.

But let's talk options. If you just cannot be convinced to drink beer, the way you cannot be convinced Michael Scott from The Office is a likable character, here are some alternatives. They will help you stay in the German spirit when you run into your dental hygienist, Craig, on his second literstein.


German wines sometimes have a reputation for being sweet, though winemakers have started veering dry as tastes evolve. Germany is widely known for whites, primarily rieslings, but check out the floral and fruity Muller-Thurgau, or pinot gris and pinot blanc. If you want a sweet, cheap option — let's be honest, sometimes you do — dare to drink the much maligned Liebfraumilch.


Ah, college. The German word "schnapps" means any kind of alcoholic drink that you slam. We're most familiar with the heavily flavored American variety, the peach, the peppermint, the DeKuyper label haunting us. In Europe, they're often distilled from actual fruit juices for a different experience.


Apfelwein, or apple wine, is a tasty cider that may even fool Frank from the car line at school into thinking you're sipping a brewski. It's also delicious heated up in the winter (ha, ha, what is winter?).


There's no law that says you have to get blotto at Oktoberfest. For those who prefer to abstain, or the designated drivers, Germans drink a variety of beverages including coffee, tea and Schorle, a fruit drink mixed with sparkling mineral water. Prost, any old way you like.