The big beer glasses are clean and ready for filling, the pretzels are on order and today I’ll search for some uber sausage to make the day complete.
It’s not quite October, but Oktoberfest is here.
That strikes a lot of people as odd, but it’s tough to argue with 90 million festive Germans and their many friends around the world.
The true Oktoberfest opened last weekend in Munich (pronounced and known as “München” in Bavaria) with a parade to end all parades and the tapping of the first keg.
It’s a big deal in every way and I had the pleasure of being there for the opening weekend five years ago.
For anyone who enjoys a good “brau” such as Augustiner – from Munich’s oldest brewery, but tragically isn’t available Canada – attending Oktoberfest is a must, at least once in a lifetime.
The parade itself is a jaw-dropping spectacle. It lasts for hours as it winds through the city with marching oompapa bands, massive wooden beer kegs on flower-decorated carts – hauled by even bigger horses – pretty ladies in cleavage-revealing dirndls, and brigades of riflemen wearing long, thick socks, lederhosen and traditional hats decorated with colourful feathers.
The show-stopper was the massive six-point buck that had been dispatched in the Black Forest and then displayed in the parade as it was hauled to Oktoberfest grounds, known as Theresienwiese, to be roasted and consumed.
The “Wiesn,” as it’s known, is even more stunning. Think the PNE, only six times bigger.
The midway seemingly goes on forever and dotted throughout are huge tents which each hold between 3,000 and 5,000 beer lovers all singing Ein Prosit and raising a toast umpteen times a day.
I loved it, sitting there under the yellow-topped Augustiner tent – because that’s where the locals like to go – sharing a picnic table with a München family who were all too eager to present their new Canadian friend with litre-sized biers – there’s no other size – steckerlfisch (grilled fish on a stick) and würstl (sausages).
One day I’ll return, but still, it’s no excuse for missing Oktoberfest. That’s why, last year, I hosted my own Oktoberfest.
Tomorrow is the second annual event. The patio will be transformed into the biergarten and all those colourful coasters – liberated from various München beer halls, including the famous Hofbräuhaus – will come in very handy.
I also brought back a couple CDs so the oompapa tunes will be blaring with various interludes for the belting out of Ein Prosit, followed by hearty swallows of bier or perhaps a dark shot of Jägermeister.
I even have my own litre-sized glass mug courtesy the Paulaner brewery of München. And to that, all I can say is, prost!