T.J. Finley’s in Bay Shore is a craft beer institution.

Having perhaps originated the slogan “No Crap On Tap,” Finley’s boasts one of the best tap lines on Long Island.

With an established and well-known dedication to craft, Finley’s has hosted great events, such as the Craft Beer Pumpkin Fest, Winter Bourbon Festival (yeah, there’s craft beer there, too), and, of course, the annual St. Patrick’s Day celebration.

But this time of year, the pleasant chill in the evenings heralds in what should be a craft beer geek’s true, favorite beer holiday: Oktoberfest!

This is T.J. Finley’s 9th annual Oktoberfest. You simply cannot do something for almost a decade and have it suck. And so I went (as if you expected anything less).

It was early when I got there, but the crowd was already starting to fill out. ‘Festers ran a curious gamut: from super-sexy, super-cute fraulines and muscled Yo Bros, to grizzled, established regulars.

Bartenders donned in, um… “nouveau” dirndlspurchased more from Utopias or Frederick’s rather than handed down from your Oma, ensure that it’s not just your stein that over-floweth (no complaints here, merely happy observation).

The main bar proper is welcomingly dark. One of them new-fangled video menus scrolls through the tap selections which, today, are dominated by Oktoberfest beers.

2 Roads, Brooklyn, iconic Sam Adams and Flying Dog sidle up next to traditional classics like Hofbrau and Weihenstephaner.

As you exit to the rear, a separate bar stands ready to dispense more sudsy goodness. TVs inside and out broadcast various sports. Slightly further along, picnic-style tables encourage a communal drinking experience. A large tent covers yet another beer-serving station, as well as the food. 

Brats, sauerkraut, and honking big soft pretzels are available to counterbalance the boozy influx.

The first 300 people get a mug. You can choose either the mammoth 1 litre mug (spelled in the special, Euro way) or a 1/2 liter.

Most manly men choose the liter but experience teaches that this thing, though impressive, is wholly impractical for everyday use. Being an Old Lion (and confident in my masculinity) I choose the half liter. This is not only good for Oktoberfests but for times when you might want a half liter of IPA (which, for me, are most days).

We’re Americans after all, so of course things get “Americanized,” especially as time passes, and perhaps they lose some authenticity.

But this is still a damned good time at one of the South Shore’s best craft beer bars. If you didn’t get down here this year, make sure you dog-ear this for 2017.  Coupled with a bunch of other local beer-centric events, this should help you usher in the fall nicely. Prost!

Photos by Richard (Wizard) Rommeney

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