By PJ Standlee
SanTan Brewery’s first ever Oktoberfest on Sept. 27 packed a crowd of hundreds to sample tasty beers from Arizona breweries, but the long lines, tiny tasting cups, and lack of lederhosen relegated the advertised German styled Oktoberfest to a lesser beer tasting event.
While most happily suffered the long lines to sample every type of beers from IPAs to hefenweizens to lagers, the small tasting cups given to the festival goers detracted from Oktoberfest’s image of humongous mugs of frothing brown and pale ales and made lines impossibly long as thirsty beer drinkers were forced to return back to lines only moments after finishing their beer.
Many of the well known breweries from around Arizona joined SanTan during the festivities including: BJ’s, Rock Bottom, Brewer’s Den, Gordon Biersch, and Prescott. One of the more popular beers at the festival was the sturdy IPA made by a small brewery from Bisbee called Dave’s Electric Brewery.
Dave Hoffman, said the brewery was founded in 1988 by Dave Harvan of Bisbee and is the oldest licensed micro-brewery in Arizona.
“Our IPA is what we call an industrial pale ale—it’s almost 8 percent,” Hoffman said. “And the Lager has a special brewing process that takes three weeks to complete fermentation.”
Besides the beer, some festival goers also filled up on bratwurst topped with sauerkraut or checked out the best beer maid contest.
Most seemed content wait the long lines with friends and family for a chance to sample new beers.
“Oktoberfest is less about drinking than it is about celebrating family, friends, and life,” said Dieter Klaus Juergen Foerstner, the brew master for Gordon Biersch, who boldly self-proclaimed his hefenweizen, “the best ever.”
Foerstner, whose family came from Germany and had brewed beer before the 1930s prohibition, has also made the pilgrimage to Bavaria’s Oktoberfest.
“It’s always four or five times better than what you can actually remember.” Foerstner said about visiting Oktoberfest. “I remember waiting outside the tent before opening. Everyone was waiting, and when the doors open, we all rushed inside.”
While the rowdy drinking songs, people dressed in traditional German clothes, and the polka bands were missing from SanTan’s Oktoberfest, Foerstner said this was a great first attempt and he was happy with the turn out.
“A lot of that is pretentiousness,” Foerstner said about Americans being unwilling to sing or act ridiculous in public. “People are scared to be embarrassed. In Oktoberfest nobody cares. You sing along and slosh 20 percent off your beer on your neighbor, but that’s ok because he’s sloshing his beer on you.”