Every year when Oktoberfestzeit rolls around, my thoughts turn nostalgic for liter-sized beers, chewy brezeln, and oompah bands playing “Country Roads.” And that this year’s Berlin and Beyond Film Festival fell smack in the middle of Oktoberfest’s traditional 16-day season only exacerbated the quasi-homesickness that feeds my Teutonic obsessions. Having lived for some time in Munich, and hoisted many a Maßkrug on the Wiesn, I’ve purposefully avoided its San Francisco counterpart, Oktoberfest by the Bay, for years. After all, Munich’s Oktoberfest is the largest beer festival in the world, boasting more than six million visitors a year, an adrenaline-pumping array of roller-coasters, and mountains of Bavarian food to soak up the rivers of beer. Any other city’s regional edition will naturally far short of this admittedly high mark.
But when it comes to beer fests, is it really the size that matters, or just the beers? I figured I owed it to myself to find out.