Shirlington Oktoberfest by Amber Wilkie Photography
A photograph often evokes emotion in those that view it, however it isn’t necessarily the same emotion for everyone. More than likely your soul is aglow with happiness as you look at this guy enjoying a beer on a sunny afternoon, wearing funny overalls and a smile that is no doubt a reflection of his lubricated contentment. Yet I only feel deep sorrow, as I attended the real Oktoberfest celebration in Munich several weeks ago and am forced to draw comparisons. To begin with the obvious, I’m sad that I’m now sitting behind a desk rather than visiting museums, strolling through the vast English Garden, and eating every imaginable type of pork product. Not only do I feel sorry for myself, but I feel bad for the beer in this man’s hand. It looks lonely and cheated as it should be surrounded by more beer in a much bigger mug. I feel sorry for his arm as it should be getting tired from lifting a much heavier Maßkrug, and for his liver as it should be processing much more beer (likely of better quality). I feel sorry for his ears which should be ringing from a nearby band and the loud singing of his drunken friends. And his eyes? His poor eyes. They should be well distracted by beautiful girls packed into their dirndls. Now if you’ll please excuse me, I’m going to go cry in my currywurst.
‘people watching soccer’
courtesy of ‘philliefan99’
Biergarten Haus is on the defensive. They’re still sore from the reaming Tom Sietsema gave them in the Post (having your food described as “a lethal weapon” always hurts), and there’s a certain measure of bitterness amongst the staff against the Yelpers for their similarly worded reviews criticizing, amongst other things, the service. To me, Biergarten Haus isn’t about the food or the waiters, it’s about the beer. And how is the beer? Well, it’s better than the food or the waiters. It’s not the best, but it’s good enough.
Biergarten Haus is the latest and greatest nightlife phenomena in DC. It seems like one comes along every year or so, and Washingtonians pack the place out and make it impossible to find a seat on the weekends. Last year it was Churchkey, this year it’s Biergarten. It’s a blessing and a curse. The broader neighborhood benefits from the patronage that is turned away at the door for lack of space. The patrons themselves face the frustration of massive crowds, slow service and lack of seating.
The beer garden was hyped and highly anticipated before it even opened its doors. After a series of delays and extended soft openings, the DC citizenry was practically clamoring to get inside to experience the Biergarten for themselves. When the establishment finally did open in June, it was rough, to say the least. If you came after 6, there were no seats. If you happened to get a table, you where crammed in with literally hundreds of other people. The staff was too small, the service was too slow and people generally left disenchanted. Continue reading
Oktoberfest server at Old Europe by Corinne Whiting
My initial exposure to German culture came during the first few weeks of my junior year abroad. One evening in September ’99, three brand-new friends and I raced off into the sunset across the unsecured French border on our trusty rent-a-bikes. (My ride was bright pink and accessorized with a Toto-sized basket out front.) Once on German soil, we boarded our first train (of many) chugging its way toward Munich. Destination: Oktoberfest. We carried with us one change of clothing, had no lodging booked, collectively spoke two words of Deutsch and had a vague plan to simply meet my friend from home “under the Glockenspiel” (ah, those haphazard, pre-cell phone days).
We were bursting with excitement and “green” naivete, but, thankfully, some lederhosen-clad travel gods smiled down upon us. We had a blast (and even found shelter thanks to some kind souls who shared their Marriott floor space). During that adventure, I learned several things about the German community: they are much friendlier than cultural stereotypes might suggest, they can belt out “Take Me Home, Country Roads” with the best of ’em, and they know how to brew some darn good (and, yes, potent) beer. Munich knows how to throw a party.
Luckily for us Americans, our country has also embraced this holiday that practically demands indulgence (from the free-flowing bier to the hearty dishes) and general merriment to be shared among large groups of friends and family. Today more than 43 million Americans identify German as their primary ancestry, and that culture’s widely celebrated here in DC (especially at this time of year!).