Designed as a casual "halfway-to-Oktoberfest" keg party, Gene’s Haufbrau‘s second annual Beer Fest on Sun. April 18 gave a few friendly throngs of families and friends the chance to soak up some sunshine and blow the froth off a few fine ales and lagers.

The event initially drew a smaller crowd than organizers expected (Hans Schmidt’s German Band did their oompah/polka set for only a few dozen attendees early in the afternoon), but the parking lot party area was almost full of West Ashley neighborhood characters and well-behaved beer enthusiasts by 3 p.m.

There were no signs of lederhosen or jäger hats, but the Oktoberfest spirit pervaded the scene. From the street-side stage, local quartet Blue Plantation picked and sang through laid-back bluegrass and country tunes while locals kicked back in their seats at the long wooden tables scattered around the lot. Some parents chased their kids from tent to tent. Staffers from West Of gulped from Warsteiner steins. Cheerful volunteers poured $4 pints of imported and microbrewed suds.

Our favorite was the intensely hoppy, high-gravity Double Simcoe IPA from the Penn.-based micro Weyerbacher (9 percent a.b.v.) — a prefect accompaniment to a late lunch of nicely charred bratwurst and sauerkraut.