What exactly the Octoberfest is requires no explanation. But contrary to what many foreigners think, the Octoberfest is a very southern German happening. Even though a number of festivities along similar lines are organized here in the north, it gets nowhere near München both in terms of atmosphere and sheer numbers, locals tell me. Hamburg people interested in celebrating the Octoberfest, they are all travelling south.
We might not have a real Octoberfest here, Hamburg does offer enough alternative entertainment. Every weekend there are at least a handful of festivals to choose from, if not more. “Festivals” between brackets yes, because here everything can be called a festival, from a huge street fair to a small gathering in a local pub. The beer festival I visited last weekend definitely falls into the second category.
As my companion had decided it was about time to start brewing his own beer, I unexpectedly found myself at a craft beer festival. Not exactly my natural habitat, but one cannot possibly live in Germany without ever visiting a beer festival. And since I have no possibility to travel to München any time soon, I have to accept all options offered somewhat more locally. All for the sake of integration, obviously.
I had expected something resembling München, with lederhosen, dirndls and lots of drunk people. Instead I found myself in a charming little pub just off the Reeperbahn, where a local brewer handed out small samples of his homemade beer to a small audience of interested folk. Small samples yes, not nearly enough to make any of the attendees dance on the tables or do anything else worth mentioning. And to my disappointment, no one wore traditional German clothing either (schade!).
To my surprise, for a beer festival this was all rather civilized. Instead, this craft beer festival was more comparable to a wine tasting, with focus on quality rather than quantity. Because brewing beer too turns out to be somewhat of an art. Who would have guessed?
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Photo credits: Patrik Kristian (CC BY-ND 2.0)