A salute to liquid gold

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To say that Germans take their beer seriously is an understatement. In the two occasions that I studied in Germany (first at the International Institute for Journalism in Berlin and second at the Deutsche Welle Academy in Bonn), I’ve had my fair share of German friends rolling their eyes when I ask for a glass of ice to go with my beer. 

Perhaps that culture of gathering together for a round or two of that amber liquid is most pronounced during Oktoberfest when all beer-loving citizens across the world troop to Munich to let their hair down and drink booze.

In fact, during last year’s 183rd Oktoberfest, over seven million liters of beer—enough to fill almost three Olympic-size swimming pools—were guzzled by close to six million visitors. 

Oktoberfest traces its origins to the royal wedding of Crown Prince Ludwig to Princess Therese in 1810. Ironically, no beer was sold during the festivities capped instead by horse races.

Oktoberfest is about the spirit of togetherness—a sense of gemütlichkeit—while enjoying traditional Bavarian dishes and guzzling one glass of beer after the other.

Almost two centuries later, it is celebrated not just in Germany but in other countries as well. 

The Philippines is no exception as the country marks its 79th Oktoberfest celebration this year.

“Oktoberfest brings together people. Regardless of nationality, it is that spirit of togetherness that is a common denominator,” said German Club Manila President Bernd Schneider.

The celebration, in fact, is all about the Bavarian spirit of gemütlichkeit—a cozy feeling because of friendship and a sense of belonging—where communal long wooden tables encourage revelers to make new friends over gulps of beer.

“The original reason for selling beer during Oktoberfest was to clear the stocks to make room for new beer. But I guess in the Philippines just as in Germany now, there is no problem of beer getting too old,” he added.

This year, just as in the past seven years, German Club Manila has partnered with Sofitel Philippine Plaza to celebrate the much-awaited beer festival on Oct. 6 to 7.

Paying homage to time-honored Bavarian ttraditions, Sofitel’s expansive Harbor Garden Tent will be transformed into a traditional biergärten where more than 2,000 guests are expected every night. The organizers are also flying in The Bavarian Sound Express from Germany to regale participants with traditional Bavarian music. 

The hotel’s master chefs will also prepare a grand spread of Bavarian specialties, including roasted pork knuckles, roasted calf, laugen rolls, grilled German sausages and mouthwatering pastries, paired with unlimited ice-cold San Miguel beer.

Oktoberfest in this part of the globe has some impressive statistics, too. In 2015, guests downed over 7,000 liters of beer during the two-day festival, while more than a thousand kilos of German sausages—from cheese sausages to Cervelat—and some 600 kilos of sauerkraut were consumed.

That could very well have ended in a mighty hangover, but the fun memories and new friendships formed make the slightly disheveled walk (or crawl) back home worth it.

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