There are other celebrations in October. It’s not all about the waning light and things of the dark. Growing up in a community with a lot of German influence, I always look forward to Oktoberfest. In Germany, the famous Munich Oktoberfest actually took place from September 16 to October 3rd, really more of a Septemberfest. Oktoberfest has become popular all over the world. Amazingly, an Oktoberfest celebration is held in the town of Taybeh, Judea in the West Bank , sponsored by an Arab brewery, the Taybeh Brewery. The first Taybeh Oktoberfest was held in 2005.
Not actually labeled an Oktoberfest or held in October, nonetheless the Qingdao International Beer Festival is a yearly major festival held in Qingdao, Shandong province that celebrates beer. In 2015, a 66.6-hectare site was constructed containing beer tents and stalls selling sauerkraut, bratwurst and beer in plastic carrier bags (a festival tradition) as well as Bavarian band music, mass drinking competitions, Peking opera performances and karaoke. Except for the Chinese opera it sounds like Oktoberfest to me.
Qingtao is the home of Tsingtao beer so it’s no wonder they have such a festival. The Tsingtao Brewery was founded by The Anglo-German Brewery Co. Ltd., an English-German joint stock company based in Hong Kong who owned it until 1916. The brewery was founded on August 15, 1903 as the Germania-Brauerei (Germania Brewery). In spite of an interesting history that parallels the 20th century political history of China it has continued to produce very good beer for both domestic and exports consumption.
In the united States they often have the Oktoberfests actually in October.This year rather than try to attend one of the many Oktoberfests available I am simply going to treat myself to a dinner at the Bavarian Chef, an excellent family owned German restaurant just a tiny detour off my usual route up to the city. And I’ll probably cook some German food at home, too. I actually really like sauerkraut. In high school I had a friend whose German dad stocked his basement with bock beer and made his own sauerkraut. Jean always asked me to stay for dinner on German food night. She really disliked the German food and I loved it, so she escaped being nagged to eat while I made her parents smile asking for seconds. She tried to discourage me by showing me the contents of the sauerkraut crock while it was still fermenting, but I was not put off.
I am not a big meat eater. I usually reserve meat eating for special celebrations and Oktoberfest is one. It’s the one time of year I indulge in sausages of any kind. There are well over two dozen different kinds of German sausages, many of which I’ve never encountered. I have had bratwurst but there is a whole range of local styles in Germany I’ve never gotten to try. Bratwurst has become popularized in the United States after Bill Sperling introduced bratwurst to Milwaukee County Stadium, home of the Milwaukee Braves major league team in 1954. The bratwurst were such a hit, Sperling said, that Duke Snyder of the then Brooklyn Dodgers took a whole case back to New York. I’ve had knackwurst, usually spelled knockwurst in the US. One I used to be able to get at a German deli up in the city was Landjäger. That was great for snacking. It was a dry sausage like a hard salami and didn’t need cooking. Even though they now have an online store I could order from, I could not find Landjäger.
While eating German food is an integral park of the festivities, even in China, the focus is beer. Fortunately, while my area lacks many civilized amenities, for some reason it has begun to spring up microbreweries like toadstools after a hard rain. So I plan to visit several over the course of the month. Devil’s Backbone has won several awards and their brewpub is up in the hills just off Shenandoah National Park. It should be a great place to enjoy the fall foliage while sampling some of their beers. Then there is Star Hill, whose brews I frist sampled at a beer fest in Maryland. As usual when you are a local, I’ve never actually gotten to the brewery. Less than 20 miles away, too. It’s about time. Now we even have two in humble Waynesboro, bringing these slowpokes into the 21st century. The Seven Arrows Brewing Company and Basic City Beer both have brew pubs right in town. I should support them. There are many more in the area but even for Oktoberfest one must draw a limit.
(We are a little late today. Last night internet went out. As usual tech support was more emotional than technical. Strangely, without the tech arriving it came on again. On calling to cancel the ticket I found nothing had been done at the other end either. Tonight seems like a good time to start that beer sampling. Arrgh!)