The Oktoberfest in Munich kicked off on Saturday. And by chance I stumbled on a live report about it on German television.
It says a lot about the event's status in Germany that a full two hours (11:00 to 13:00) was dedicated to it on national channel ARD, sort of the equivalent of BBC 1.
Obviously they showed the parade of drays and marching bands trailing up to the festival site. And of course they showed the major of Munich tapping the first barrel. But there was lots of other interesting stuff that was new to me.
Well, even the tapping ceremony was of interest. It took place in a Spaten tent, Schottenhamel. I assumed that there would just be the one wooden cask for show, with the rest of the beer kegged. But that wasn't the case. You could see beer from the wood being served in the background. And here was me thinking only Augustiner still supplied the festival with oak barrels. I didn't think Spaten still produced cask beer.
They even had an interview with one of Schottenhamel's beer tappers. Luckily Dolores was on hand to translate his impenetrable Bavarian accent. Evidently he'd inherited a magic tap, one that served quicker than any other. Turns out it wasn't so much magic, as a specially-modified tap he'd inherited from a colleague. He turned down an offer of 1,500 euros for it.
What was particularly nice was that the presenters were all tucking into beer while presenting. Not going crazy, but visibly drinking beer on camera. And they were all wearing traditional dress. (Did I mention Dolores picked up a second-hand dirndl while we were in Berlin?)
But most interesting was the stuff about Oide Wiesn, a festival within the festival. Originally introduced as a one-off event for the 200th anniversary in 2010, it's become a regular feature. Featuring old-fashioned farground rides and smaller beer tents. And here's the bit that really got my attention: all the draught beer is from the wood.
It left me longing to be there with a litre of beer in my hand. Maybe next year.
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