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Published: September 28th 2012
For those of you who find beer to be their primary choice of adult beverage, this blog’s for you. This entry is not for the person who “occasionally” has a cold beer on a hot summer afternoon, and certainly not for those who indulge in low calorie beers. You may simply move on friend, for this is a blog that centers on the gathering of thousands of Germans and others making the pilgrimage to the center of the beer universe…..Oktoberfest!!
A time each fall when men slap on their best lederhosen, don a hat that sometimes resembles the one that Marvin the Martian wears on those Warner Bros. cartoons, and women wear dresses that accentuate a certain part of their anatomy. And then the drinking begins….
Attended by well over 6 million festival goers each year, there are some dozen or so “main” beer tents that each seats well over five thousand people each. All the major Munich breweries are represented and all serve traditional German food along with an estimated seven million gallons of some of the finest brews available. The beer served must be brewed in Munich and specifically according to special laws. More on that
later. Can it get any better? You bet it does, as there are bands in each tent that play traditional music punctuated by short snazzy tunes that encourage, what else? Beer drinking!
Upon our arrival to the area that houses Oktoberfest, we immediately realized that this was no ordinary festival. There were wall-to-wall people strolling the grounds, tens of thousands of them of all ages. Although best known to many as a beer drinking fest, there were also rides for kids of all ages, different local foods to sample along with souvenirs of the famed event. Young and old, they all came to enjoy everything the fest had to offer. It made for some superior people watching. Folks with all types of garb on, everything from the traditional German threads to a guy with a t-shirt that read, “instant genius, just add beer.”
A few words about the beer tents. As we wandered into the Fest, we walked up to a beer tent, only to discover that you needed a reservation to get in. A reservation to drink beer? Yes. Not only that, it’s not like you can just buy a beer and walk
Brutus can party!
What.....you had doubts?
around. You need to either be inside one of the beer tents, or sitting (not standing) in the table area just outside the beer tents.
This made us stop and consider our next move. Dave suggested that we walk towards one of the beer tents a little more out of the action. No luck. MJ and Bob strolled over to the picnic tables to scout out a potential seat. Dave stood in line, hopeful to get in. Just then, one of the waiters comes out of the blue and asks Dave if he has a reservation. Dave tells him “no,” and the man says to Dave to walk up the stairs to the left, mention his name to the security man at the door, and we can get in. This sounded too good to be true. But it wasn’t. Dave collected Bob and MJ and the waiter proceeded to guide us all into the beer tent. We were in!! Nirvana was ours! Just standing in a line minding his own business gained us admission. What luck!
If you would like some more information about the event and the beer tent reservations, send us a
private message. We’d be glad to assist anyone in search of the wonderful beer found at this festival.
Anyone who knows Dave also is keenly aware of his prediliction for the finest hops and grains that unleash the potential to become anything from an amber, to a golden ale, to a pilsner all the way to a Russian Imperial stout and everything in between. Nirvana was his upon arrival to Munich. Not only that, Dave’s brother Bob flew in from Charlotte, North Carolina to join in the festivities. Now there were two Binkleys on the loose in a city that celebrates great beer. Merry Jo was certain to have her hands full keeping track of these two beer hounds….and was. The pictures tell the story best, but the smiles on all the faces can only lead one to believe the quote that Benjamin Franklin left us with, “beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.”
Yes there were some folks who had clearly imbibed way too much of the golden liquid, but for the most part, people were cheerful, happy and busy drinking beer, enjoying some fellowship and singing
traditional German tunes with thousands of their closest friends. The young ones who underestimate their ability to handle the potent brew and pass out are referred to as "Bierleichen" (German for "beer corpses").
If you order a beer, be prepared and be thirsty, because each one comes in a heavy glass mug that holds one liter of this golden nectar. This is not the place for those who only want “one bottle” of beer. For our American friends, one liter equals about 33 ounces. You do the math from here and realize that is just short of three beers per glass. This good people, is serious beer drinking at it’s finest. “Twenty four hours in a day. Twenty-four beers in a case. Coincidence?”
– Stephen Wright
What started out over 200 years ago as a celebration of King Ludwig and his bride, has included horse races over the years and also incorporated an agricultural show as part of the festivities. The horse races are no more, but the agricultural part still carries on. It has been held continuously with the exception of a cholera outbreak (now that
is a good reason not to have large amounts of people congregate) and wars (which definitely puts a damper on a party). “You can never buy beer, you just rent it.”
- Archie Bunker
For those of you still reading, this is a good time to delve into the substance of the brewing process, the “German Purity Law,” which essentially governs which ingredients are to be in beer and the like. We reference the Reinheitsgebot (German Purity Law) adopted in 1516, the oldest provision still enforced to protect the consumer.
In the original text, the only ingredients that could be used in the production of beer were water, barley and hops. The Reinheitsgebot
is no longer part of German law: it has been replaced by the Provisional German Beer Law, which allows constituent components prohibited in the Reinheitsgebot
, such as yeast, wheat malt and cane sugar, but which no longer allows unmalted barley.
Note that no yeast was mentioned in the original text. It was not until the 1800s that LouisPasteur discovered the role of microorganisms in the process of fermentation; therefore, yeast was not known
to be an ingredient of beer. Brewers generally took some sediment from the previous fermentation and added it to the next, the sediment generally containing the necessary organisms to perform fermentation. If none were available, they would set up a number of vats, relying on natural airborne yeast to inoculate the brew.
Hops are added to beer to impart flavors but also act as a preservative, and their mention in the Reinheitsgebot
meant to prevent alternative methods of preserving beer that had been used before the introduction of hops. Medieval brewers had used many problematic ingredients to preserve beers, including, for example soot and fly agarics mushrooms. More commonly, other "gruit" herbs had been used, such as stinging nettle and henbane. Indeed, the German name of the latter, Bilsenkraut
, may originally mean "Plzenherb"; that this region was a major centre of beer brewing long before the invention of (Reinheitsgebot
The penalty for making impure beer was also set in the Reinheitsgebot
: a brewer using other ingredients for his beer could have questionable barrels confiscated with no compensation.
German breweries are very proud of the Reinheitsgebot
, and many (even brewers of wheat beer) claim to still abide
by it. In other words: “Life is too short to drink cheap beer.”
- Anonymous And so dear friends, we came, we saw, we imbibed. We leave you with a brief exchange from the TV show, “Cheers.”
Woody the bartender: How are you feeling today Mr. Peterson?
Woody: Oh, I’m sorry to hear that Mr. Peterson.
Norm: No, I mean, “pour”
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