The Germans know what they are doing when it comes to celebrating beer, sausages and lively oompah bands. I attended Calgary’s first Oktoberfest festivities this past weekend and I’d have to say that Alberta Beer Festivals would have made King Ludwig I proud.
My buddy and I arrived at the scene promptly and were rewarded with a pair of tickets to next year’s Calgary International Beerfest. So, as you can imagine, my mood was instantaneously uplifted from the moment that I passed through the doors of the BMO Centre. Sometimes drinking early pays off!
Traditional Oktoberfest Entertainment
The layout for the party was quite different from the Beer Fest. A large stage was situated in the centre of the hall with rows of tables and chairs surrounding it. This was done so that the Oktoberfest crowd could sit down with some grub and a stein full of malty goodness to watch the authentic Oompah Band entertain the crowd. I have to be honest, I have never seen a real German Oompah Band before, but these guys really know how to get the crowd involved. Continuous renditions of the “Chicken Dance” and “Ein Prosit” had people up and attempting to sing along. I myself tried to shout out the traditional cheers in my fatally flawed German.
Tasty Eats from Local Pubs
The food stalls were spread out along the sides of the hall. It was nice to see so many local pubs there dishing out their pub grub. I particularly enjoyed the Bavarian sausage on a pretzel bun from Wurst. I had never tasted a pretzel bun before and thought that mixing a hot dog bun with a pretzel (great munchy with beer) was a genius combo. If sausages aren’t your thing there were plenty of other choices available from pub favourites like The National, Craft Beer Market, Ship & Anchor Pub and Jameson’s among others. Basically, you would be hard pressed not to find something that catches your fancy.
Craft Beer Highlights!
Now to the most important part of the celebration, the beer! Craft beer was flowing through everybody’s veins that night. Microbreweries from Southern Alberta were in attendance to pour their creations for the masses. Authentic Bavarian breweries were also at the event with beer imported from Deutschland to add a little more variety to the mix.
Here were some of the highlights for me:
Czuggers Pilsner from Bear Hill Brewing Co was a really refreshing and easy drinking beer but still had some flavour to it that would make a true Pilsner drinker smile. The King Ludwig Oktoberfest beer from Brewsters was another pleasant surprise. I have been planning on heading over to the downtown location just so I can enjoy another pint of it before their beer rotation changes. I was relieved to see that The Grizzly Paw Brewing Co was pouring their IPA; I am a pretty big hop head so I was jonzing for some flavour from those little green gems. While speaking to one of the Bear Crew I learnt that they recently released a Coffee Stout and that it was selling out pretty quick. I have been thinking about heading over to Cochrane this weekend so that I can pick up a case; I am a bit of a sucker for those rich coffee stouts.
Tool Shed: A Good Introduction to Calgary Beer-Festival-Goers
Another thing that made me happy was the fact that Tool Shed Brewing Co sold all of the craft beer that they had available. Now, to be clear, I was saddened by the fact that I was no longer able to drink their stuff; but pleased to see how quickly people took to this new Alberta microbrewery.
Saturday has left me hungry for more Oktoberfest partying. I will have to get some bratwursts for the BBQ to tide me over until next year’s event.
Until the next time, cheers to local craft beer!