Drinkers don German heritage pride at Oktoberfest


When it comes to drinking, I’ve always preferred mixed liquor drinks and wine to sweetly and subtly tickle my taste buds and senses. One can only imagine the controversy this has sparked during my ventures to keg and beer pong parties throughout my – of-age – college experience. Many have viewed this particular characteristic of mine with shame, viewing it as some sort of handicap which has required me to leave parties many times for unnecessary “beer runs” or rather “anything-butbeer- runs.” Although a bit embarrassing, I realized I was not alone in my “Ew, this tastes like piss” opinion of this specific alcoholic bubbly. Many other girls and newbie drinkers sympathized with me as they turned down the sides of their mouths and wiped their watery eyes after chugging down whichever dark beer conveniently found its way in their fingertips. I could just never shake the weird feeling that I somehow put my German, beer-connoisseur ancestry to shame each

time I refused to partake of the urine-like foam. But when the features editor presented me with the opportunity to attend St. Augustine’s one-night rendition of Oktoberfest, the biggest annual German festival, I became ever-so willing to expand my taste buds and deny my sweet tooth. The pride of my heritage depended on it.  I entered the festival with confidence, armed with a designated driver and a beer stein, bought and made in Germany, herself. The festival availed 80 types of international and domestic brewskies, including organic, cider, cooler and even non-alcoholic options, all for unlimited taste-testing with paid admission. I started my drinking a bit skeptically, not being one to overlook quality even amid bright lights, loud music and large crowds.  “May I try the Michelob Ultra Pomegranate Raspberry one, Gertrude?” I asked sheepishly.  Start weak, end strong … that was my plan. As the syrupy, light lager flowed down my throat, I felt I had finally opened my eyes to the endless flavorful possibilities of my new friend, ale. From Wild Blue Blueberry Ale, Woodchuck Amber Cider and Shock Top Ale to Staropramen Pilsner, each gulp brought me closer to maybe one day being able to fully appreciate a nice dark, German stout.  Offering more than just an alcoholic’s playhouse, the Oktoberfest had polka dances performed and taught by the Bavarian Bad Boys (and girls … ) and live music by the Heidelberg Hotshots. I learned how to polka by dancers four times my age who could swirl and kick faster than I could after five Red Bulls.  And then the night’s defining moment arrived.  As I was leaving a stand, sipping, savoring and studying whichever new taste exploded on my tongue, I heard a comment from a passerby that I will always treasure.  “She’s German as [explicative].”  Perhaps my sweet stein, fair skin or bottle-blond hair led him to this conclusion. But I like to think that what’s on the inside counts — inside my stein, that is. I became a beer drinker and discovered my German roots, hiding just underneath the soil of a hop plant.