Oktoberfest By The Bay

By: Yelena Keselman

For those of you who have been to the original Oktoberfest in Munich, you understand the amplitude of rich culture and pride this festival provides. And lets not forget the amazing food, music, and countless men in lederhosen. It’s only right to share the magic of this celebration with the city of San Francisco, equally eager to bear tight shorts with ambitions to consume ridiculous amounts of delicious beer. Thus, Oktoberfest by the Bay was born! Recently rounding it’s 14th year the event was held at Pier 48 with breathtaking views of the newly renovated Bay Bridge and AT&T Ballpark (GO GIANTS!)
As I entered the “Biergarten”, taps were flowing with a few of Germany’s finest brews, including the Spaten Muncher Helles Lager and their amber counterpart The Oktoberfest.  A notable disappointment, I only noticed three beer varieties throughout the entire festival. I was hoping to do a bit more “tasting” but to their redemption they did manage to win me over by providing my all time favorite the Paulaner Hefe-Weissbier (ABV 5%). Descending from Munich this beer is nothing short of a mouthful yet well worth the perplexing pronunciation. The brew has a thick consistency with a golden tint and goes down flawlessly. This Hef gives you a nice combination of grain and subtle banana fruit.

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While the GIANT PREZTALS and sauerkraut wienerschnitzel  were hard to keep my hands off of, the abundance of personalized gingerbread necklaces really caught my eye. Souvenirs and trinkets are of course an integral part of the entire experience, and there’s no going home without some sort of proof you were there. The real advocates brought their own steins but you could easily buy a knock off plastic version for $10. They also showcased a selection of some beautiful ceramic style mugs for the true blue connoisseur’s. People really got into the Oktoberfest spirit of things and dressed accordingly from a variety of colorful Dirdnis (Traditional Baverian women’s dress) to an impressive exhibit of alpines hats. If you were lacking the appropriate apparel there was no need to worry because for about $20 you could make a statement with your very own balloon stein creation.

Now where it really got real was the dance floor. Forget the alcohol (not really!), but what better way to get a party started then a 20 person Bavarian Band! They strummed and blew the night away, playing traditional folk music and adapting some newer classics into the mix with impressive precision. The music line up included the Chico Bavarian band, The Internationals, and Deutscher Musikverein of San Francisco. The entertainment didn’t stop there; I was pleasantly surprised by multiple dance performances and guest appearances on the mic.

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I was also pleased to find that this progressively growing Bay Area tradition has a following that surpasses the local population. In fact I met a number of people who came to town solely to partake in the celebration, a few even traveling from as far as Europe. I chatted with one guy from Ireland who says he’s been coming for years. From my personal standpoint I would categorize this event a little on the pricier side with a $22 entry fee plus the cost of drinks and food. San Francisco is infamous for providing the community with free and affordable leisure so for those who aren’t willing to fork up a pretty penny to participate I wouldn’t recommend this particular affair. Overall though, Oktoberfest by the Bay was well organized and I had a great time. Oktoberfest is certainly a unique experience that is difficult to replicate and I enjoyed San Francisco’s version of the celebration and wouldn’t mind doing it again next year.