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Oktoberfest_bierzeltBeer drink­ers have a lot to thank Ger­many for. For a start they came up with the Rein­heits­ge­bot, also known as the Ger­man Beer Pur­ity Law, back in 1516, which defined what beer is (water, bar­ley, yeast and hops). To this day, brew­er­ies either fol­low it to the let­ter or decide to throw it out the win­dow. And while Ger­many is syn­onym­ous with lagers, it has giv­en us a huge num­ber of beer styles. From the light Kölsch to the dark­er Schwar­zbi­er and Rauch­bi­er, and the pop­u­lar Weißbiers and Hefe­weizens (wheat beers), you can run a gam­bit of fla­vours from fruit to smoke to sour.

While most craft brew­ers err on the side of com­plex and hoppy ales, more than a few loc­al Wel­ling­ton brew­er­ies have tried their hand at Ger­man beers, includ­ing Black Dog’s recent light, sour Ber­liner Weisse. The most well known would be Tuatara, with both Helles and Hefe in their reg­u­lar range.

Finally, this year Wel­ling­ton is get­ting that pin­nacle of Ger­man beer cul­ture: Okto­ber­fest! But organ­iser Mike Sander emphas­ises that, while the beer will be cent­ral, the focus will be on Ger­man and, in par­tic­u­lar, Bav­ari­an cul­ture too.

The bands will be dress­ing up in leder­hosen, the women will be wear­ing their dirndl dresses, and all the food you’d expect at such an event – sch­weineb­raten (roast pork), würst (saus­ages), knödel (potato or bread dump­lings) and sauerkraut – will be available.”

The bands are the key part here. This Okto­ber­fest will be ser­en­aded by the best ten brass bands from around New Zea­l­and. Oom-pah! I recently lamen­ted the lack of oom-pah music at the Great­er Wel­ling­ton Brewday. There was some there, but not all day long. While The Warehouse’s bar­gain bins are full of cheap CD com­pil­a­tions of ‘best drink­ing songs’ fea­tur­ing songs like ‘The Gam­bler’, there is noth­ing that goes bet­ter with beer than a brass band and Bav­ari­an music.

On the Fri­day of Okto­ber­fest, the ten bands will each play a set hop­ing to get to the next day, because on the Sat­urday the best six will be judged and a win­ner crowned. And the crowd will factor in that judging. Day­time on the Sat­urday will be a fam­ily-friendly event too, with tra­di­tion­al Ger­man games and dan­cing, so if you find that you miss out on beer fest­ivals because you don’t have the babysit­ter hours then this could be for you.

The inaug­ur­al Okto­ber­fest: The Bav­ari­an Show­down will be held in a Munich-style mar­quee on the Odlins Plaza near Te Papa on Fri­day 11 and Sat­urday 12 October.



Septem­ber Beer Recommendation

Speak­ing of fest­ivals, as I write this the annu­al Soci­ety of Beer Advoc­ates (SOBA) Winter Ale Fest­iv­al has just been and gone (along with a bunch of earth­quakes!). The fest­iv­al moved from the water­front to Vic­tor­ia University’s Hunter Lounge, which allowed more tick­et sales and a huge range of fant­ast­ic beers. Many of the brews on offer were one-offs, some were exper­i­ments and there were a few old favour­ites thrown in for good measure.

If you aren’t a mem­ber of SOBA then I strongly recom­mend that you join. At the very least you’ll get dis­counts at craft beer bars all over town, but more than that you get to become part of New Zealand’s craft beer community.


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