This April I was lucky enough to get the opportunity to attend the mother of all drinking events for beer aficionados- that’s right, Beerfest in Munich, Germany! I call this the mother of all events because it differs slightly from Oktoberfest, the significantly larger festival that occurs each fall. While Oktoberfest hosts millions of people, Springfest operates on a much smaller scale with only tens of thousands of beer enthusiasts in attendance. I find that statistic rather laughable, before my trip I had a hard time imagining what it must be like to stand in a room full of thousands of inebriated, red faced, singing and swaying individuals in full traditional German garb, let alone millions. I went into this adventure and embarked upon the ten hour long bus ride to Munich with an open mind and no expectations. The trip turned out to be an enormous success filled with new friendships, delicious food, and copious amounts of fresh, ice-cold beer.
The weekend began bright and early Friday morning with a very unique walking tour of the city- unique because the tour group was accompanied by four kegs on wheels. Our group was urged to go on the tour in order to get an introduction to the city in addition to having a smashing good time playing various drinking games along the way. This was when I had my first taste of the Augusteener beer, a light German beer that took the spotlight of the festival. The tour was led by a loud and aggressive man who was knowledgeable about the city but who mostly took pride and joy in enforcing the strict rules of his many drinking games. By the end of the tour, we had reached the famed eatery “Hoffbrau house” and the tour group had spiraled into anarchy of tipsy twenty-somethings who no longer feared the guide’s rule of “interrupt me and you chug!’ At this moment, many went off to the beer tents or back to the hostel for a nap. Obviously, I did not fall into either of these two categories as I made my way directly into the restaurant for a hearty meal.
I realize now that I had many preconceived notions about Fruhlinger, most of which turned out to be false. Before the trip, I had not been all too excited for the food of Germany, but that changed at the Hoffbrau house. I had imagined nothing but noodles with sausage or potatoes, I turned out to be quite mistaken. I gazed at the four-page German menu in utter confusion but was lucky enough to have a friend experienced in German cuisine. She suggested the pork knuckle but I opted instead for the beef roast. My food was delicious but I was an idiot not to heed her advice. I got to sample each of my friend’s choices- suckling pig, warm pretzels, a roast chicken, and the PORK KNUCKLE. The meat is like a cross between a turkey leg and a beef stew. I cannot say enough about this mysterious connective tissue but can only urge you to try the tender and flavorful dish if ever you get the chance. Naturally, I devoured my entire meal and then went in for the leftovers of all my friend’s meals. I washed down the food with a stein of beer. All day I had seen waiters serving gigantic mugs of Augusteener and had heard that one “stein” was in fact one liter of beer. I never thought I would get through even just one of these massive drinks, but I guess you should never say never