I’m currently sitting on a plane that’s cruising along at 850 km/h and 10 km’s above the earth. This flight is the first leg of two on the way back home from a month long holiday in my home nation, Canada. I thought what better way to eat away some of the hours than to finally get the old fingers moving again and post a little something something.
When my course is again set for Brisbane, I tend to get nostalgic and reminisce about previous trips I’ve taken. I think of the places I’ve been, the beers I’ve consumed, the experiences I’ve had, and the people I’ve met. There are a few beer related favourites, but there is one that stands out amongst them all.
When I started this blog almost 3 years ago, its original intention was to document the beers and food I had on a 4 month, round-the-world trip the wife and I took. Funny enough, I didn’t ACTUALLY write anything of the sort, aside from one post about a night drinking in Kuala Lumpur. I still focused on the events going on back home and the rest was history.
During this trip, we touched down in Asia, Europe, North America, back to Asia, before finally coming home, and each stop included some form of good beer expedition. The one I was looking forward to the most though was the Nirvana for many drinkers. The holy land: Munich for Oktoberfest.
We arrived a bit earlier in the day, so spots were available for us to have a seat. We were both uncertain on what to expect with Oktoberfest; neither of us had been to one and we’d done no real research on it. All we knew is that there were giant beers and pretzels.
When I entered the Ochsenbraterei tent for the first time, I was awestruck by the sheer size inside. Row upon row of tables, filled with folks in lederhosen and drindl, all with a stein in hand and some with a pretzel in the other. We snuck in at the end of a table and within moments, one of the serving girls was on us taking our order for a beer.
Initial hesitation drained away as fast as that first stein. Before we knew it, we were a few steins deep, the band had struck up and we were unconsciously bobbing along to German folk songs and English favourites.
The beer itself was fantastic, of course. The Germans have been making beer for a very long time, and the Spatan lived up the brewing traditions of old. But it wasn’t the quality of the beer or the size of the vessel it was served in that made this my most memorable experience, but the atmosphere.
It took a few more beverages down the hatch, but eventually, every single person in that beer tent was standing on their seat, drink in hand, and belting out “Ein Prosit” in rough unison. I think it was after the third playing of “Take Me Home, Country Roads” before I realized I was standing on the bench, an arm around the neck of the stranger next to me who was now my new best friend.
It wasn’t the alcohol though that brought this on. No, the collective effervescence of that tent brought on its own intoxication. We were drunk on revelry and comradery. Everyone was your friend, even if you didn’t share a common word of language. It was amazing.
I remember leaving at the end of the night and feeling a warm glow. Not the typical flush feeling of being inebriated, though that was there as well, but the kind you get deep inside you. One where you know you’ve touched on the best of the human experience. I met people whom I’ll never meet again, but, just for that night, we were old friends, celebrating life.