Have a backyard Oktoberfest

All you need is one grill, lots of sausage, sauerkraut, and a hundred friends. Get our recipes and make-ahead plan

Oktoberfest plate
Photo: Thayer Allyson Gowdy

James Bullard and Emily Wilson are bold people. Every October they invite everyone they know to join their version of Oktoberfest. Yes: everyone they know.

"It's a party party," Bullard says, "with copious amounts of eating and drinking and everyone invited like when you threw a party in college."

More than 100 people stop by their San Francisco house during the six-hour event, where they find a keg, coolers of soft drinks and more beer, a table laden with potluck offerings of salads and side dishes, a kitchen counter covered with buns and condiments, and a grill full of sausage.

"The party was inspired by my deep appreciation for sausages of all types," Bullard explains. "We've had Georgian sausage, Portuguese, Czech. One year I found a huge coiled Polish sausage that weighed 10 pounds. I'm not sure it was meant to be grilled, but we put it on the grill, and it was a big hit."

Bullard's grilling adventures are not limited to sausage. One year he threw big chunks of salt-encrusted beef on the grill, Brazilian-style. Another year he grilled a whole slab of bacon. But there's always lots of sausage, and there's always plenty of beer. And if anyone goes home hungry, it's not because of any lack of hospitality on Bullard and Wilson's part.


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