Saturday, September 17, 2022

Ein Prosit!

JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING: Lift your steins, everyone, and get ready to enjoy the best of fall - today is the official start of Oktoberfest in Munich. I have a special fondness for this famous folk celebration, because as some of you may remember, we were stationed in Bavaria when I was a kid and took an annual trip to Hofbräuhaus. It was, at least at that time, quite a family-friendly affair: oom-pa-pa bands, my sister and I in matching dirndls, the whole nine yards. Sadly, I can’t say I ever drank at Hofbräuhaus because even in Germany, nine or ten is a little too young. I got Fanta, which was a big treat, because my folks did not believe in soda for kids.


Oktoberfest was first celebrated in 1810, as a whoop-up celebrating the wedding of Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen (who was pretty awesome) to Ludwig I (who was not; 38 years after the first Oktoberfest, he was forced to abdicate in favor of his son after he tried to impose a beer tax. And he cheated on his wife, too! Boo, Ludwig, boo!)

 

In all those years, it's only been cancelled for three periods of time - during both world wars (not surprising) and during the 2020-2021 pandemic (also not surprising.) It's a huge expression of Bavarian culture, which is a lot happier and looser than what most Americans might think of as German culture. And what better way to express that then putting on your trachten (traditional clothing) joining a huge parade, listening to music (brass bands during the day and thrash/europop at night) and slamming 6% beers. Just don't pass out and get jeered at by the locals as a Bierleiche a/k/a a beer corpse. 

 

Honestly, I like beer a lot but I've never gotten more than buzzed on it because constantly running to the bathroom to pee puts a natural pause on my consumption.


What about you, Reds? Have you ever visited a beer hall or celebrated at an Oktoberfest? Do you like beer, and if so, how fancy are your tastes?


HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: Beer. No. Not a beer girl. :-) Well, okay, wait. At  Fenway Park with a Fenway frank. I am swooning now, thinking of that. Delicious.  But it’s the whole package: baseball, hot dog, cheering, little kids, beer, popcorn, Sweet Caroline. 

And I even lived in Hamburg for six months when I was 16–and I have no memories of beer whatsoever! But then, it was the sixties, so “remembering” is  not part of the deal. 


JENN McKINLAY: Beer me! I love beer. In winter, give me a nice hearty Guinness with my shepherd’s pie but in summer I want something light like Corona with my fish tacos. I didn’t love beer at first but three dollar pitchers at our favorite pizza place which was walking distance from the dorm soon changed that! One of my favorite beer bars when I lived in New Haven was Richters - because they sold beer in half yard glasses - a right of passage when we turned 21. I will say I don’t drink much of anything these days and when I have gone out and contemplated a beer, it’s all IPAs, microbrew weirdness, or flavored seltzer (gag)! I may turn into a hard cider girl yet. 


LUCY BURDETTE: Yes count me in for Oktoberfest! I love beer, and like Jenn, learned to drink it in the pub at school. (Yes it was right on campus and we drank many, many pitchers!) John loves all the IPAs, but I prefer something lighter like Red Stripe or Stella. There’s a brewing company in Key West called the Waterfront–I enjoy their Crazy Lady and Island Life. Worth reading the list just for the names!

One more thing about beer vs wine–a bottle of beer is always the same. If you like it, it’s there for you exactly as you remember. Not so for wine, which can be terrible swill at an event or party:)

 


HALLIE EPHRON: Another thumbs-up for beer here. And hard cider. Drinking in pubs in Ireland was a revelation - A Guinness pour, anyone (NOTHING like what you pour from a bottle at home)? Who knew!

I also like Chinese beer and Japanese Ichiban. And on a hot summer day, I want nothing but an icey-cold Bud Light. 

 

JULIA: I love hard cider. Love it. The first time I had it was on a trip to Cambridge while going to school in London. I had no idea how strong it was - it was so light and sweet going down... Thank God I had girlfriends there to muscle me out of the pub and get me safely back to our hotel. 

 

DEBORAH CROMBIE: Not a beer lover here. I will order a half pint in a British pub occasionally, but more as research for my British beer-drinking characters than because I really want to drink it. I do like Guinness, but can't drink much of it. It's so filling. I don't like American fizzy beer at all–it makes me feel like I've swallowed balloons!--but I love hard cider.

 

JULIA: How about you, dear readers? Whether you enjoy beer or not, join us all in a rousing chorus of In München steht ein Hofbräuhaus -  Eins, zwei, g'suffa! 

65 comments:

  1. Although I’ve never been to a beer hall or celebrated at an Oktoberfest, I do like beer. Guinness is a favorite as is Sam Adams . . . hard cider is a thumbs-up, too . . . .

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    1. Thumbs up to all of those, Joan. I may have to go out and pick up some beer to enjoy with dinner tonight...

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  2. Oktoberfest sounds fun! I should plan a trip someday.

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    1. You should, Damyanti! And it's a great place to go with or without traveling companions, because if you don't know anyone when you arrive, you will by the time you leave.

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  3. YES to beer and Oktoberfest (Canadian version)!
    I studied at the University of Waterloo in the 1980s. The town of Kitchener-Waterloo's former name was Berlin, Ontario until it changed after the wars. Their annual Oktoberfest is the largest in Canada, and I certainly had fun at their beer halls.
    https://www.oktoberfest.ca/

    I have been to Munich, Germany twice but never during Oktoberfest. That would be a crazy fun event.

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    1. Grace, I didn't realize Kitchener had been renamed from Berlin. Has there been any discussion of revisiting the "new" name? I assume it's after the same Kitchener who had, shall we say, a mixed legacy in the Boer Wars?

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    2. JULIA: According to this 2020 article, Kitchener's name has come up for debate but no name change is planned.
      https://kitchener.ctvnews.ca/kitchener-name-change-debate-being-revisited-1.4985290

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  4. We have an annual Oktoberfest celebration here in the Adirondacks for tourists. I've never attended, as I'm not a beer fan. I might if they wore Bavarian traditional dress!

    Fun fact: before pasteurization, all stored cider was hard cider. John Adams ascribed his long life in part to his habit of drinking cider, typically drinking a glass every day before breakfast. I wonder how my work habits would be different if I drank alcohol on rising instead of coffee?

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    1. I like the sound of that! My son's Russian- American friend recently mentioned that his parents (both brilliant Russian scientists who have been here thirty years) have a little glass of cognac with their breakfast.

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    2. I'm afraid that at this stage of my life, it would just put me back to sleep...

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    3. Oh, my gosh, I would be out of commission in ten seconds. Yikes. xx

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  5. Prost! Long-time beer lover here, although my tastes have improved considerably. I live with an avid IPA and pilsner consumer and we both prefer a microbrewery hoppy quaff. And I still have a stein I snuck out of a beer hall in Austria in 1980.

    What ever happened to pitchers of beer? Longtime fan...

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    1. I'm pretty sure pitchers are still available in college towns, Edith! :-)

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  6. It's Oktoberfest Zinzinnati this weekend on blocked-off streets in the heart of downtown Cincinnati. The running of the weiners (dachshunds) and world's largest chicken dance are featured highlights, with the Hudepohl 14K Brewery Run to start things off. I'll take a pass this year.

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    1. Margaret, I'm tempted to go next year just for the Running of the Weiners!

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  7. I am a beer girl, although I haven't celebrated Oktoberfest. I learned to love beer while studying in Scotland when I was 21. My friend and I were doing a research project on Scottish folk music, so we went to folk clubs and performances and interviewed musicians (so fun!). The people we met always offered to buy us a beer (or offered cigarettes). Amber ale is about my favorite, although I like a good black and tan.

    Julia, your story about hard cider reminded me of my first experience with it. When I was 15, my dad had sabbatical so we went to England and lived with my aunt in Leeds for 6 months. She had a friend who had a daughter just our age (also Gillian). My twin and I went to Gillian's birthday party and were served cider. It was delicious, but I had no idea there was alcoholic cider, until I started feeling very strange. My first buzz.

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    1. Honestly, Gillian, I've lived in Germany, spent a summer in Italy, and of course am settled in the US. And in all that experience, I've never seen people drink like the British. Of course, I haven't been to Australia, yet...

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  8. Yes, to beer. I can remember taking sips of my dad's Ballantine ale when I was just tiny. I'd make a face and shake my head at how bitter it was but would always be ready for a sip another day! I almost always liked what he liked because everything he enjoyed was so plain to see on his face.

    Irwin introduced me to Molson's Golden Ale. It is my favorite of all time but harder to get in Connecticut now. I love Corona and Stella is good, too. I am not a fan of hoppy beers.

    Actually, I don't choose beer very often because of how filling it is and the gas, right? But nothing tastes as good with spicy food. So, what's on tap?

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    1. Judy, you and Irwin should consider a trip to a good brewpub where you can get a flight of beers, and thus sample many different ones. That's how I've found new microbrews I enjoy.

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    2. Or come visit me! We have very good beers in Amesbury.

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  9. Of course I love beer, preferably a pub pint. Drank lots of those when I was young. We have our own brewery here in Limerick with a real good dark brew but we don’t indulge too often. But in the summer there’s nothing better than a shandy (half beer and half ginger ale or fizzy lemonade. I have a pair of pewter tankards and a pair of china tankards by a Danish artist which belonged to my father. My father won one of the pewter tankards shooting on his rifle team at Imperial College. - Celia

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  10. Traditional costumes, oompah bands, parades? I'm in. Beer, nope.

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    1. I love tracht, Flora, and would love to get my hands on some of the more modern, wearable versions. Geiger makes some fabulous (and expensive!) stuff.

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  11. Thanks Grace, for explaining Ocktoberfest in Kitchener-Waterloo. Kitchener is my home town and I grew up with beer so of course am not a big beer drinker. Just love Carlsberg which is brewed in Waterloo. Ocktoberfest is HUGE in Ontario with a parade and lots of beer halls and oompah-pah bands. Ein prosit!!!!!

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  12. I should have said I am a big beer drinker! My relatives on both sides were German/Bavarian from Saltzburg and German was spoken at home when I was a child.

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  13. To add to Margaret's comment about Oktoberfest Zinzinnati: Munich is our official Sister City in Germany, and with so many here with German heritage it's a much anticipated weekend to end summer. Our Oktoberfest is the second largest after Munich's, and completely takes over the downtown area, with blocks of food trucks, stages for oompah and polka bands, and of course the world's biggest chicken dance. (Which may have something to do with the beer.)

    Cincinnati also has a heritage of beer brewing, but neither Steve nor I--both with a lot of German DNA--are big beer drinkers. Sausage and potato pancakes, though! Yessirree. My German grandfather used to walk to the beer garden in my hometown every afternoon with his clean gallon jug to have it filled with fresh draft. They always kept aluminum tumblers in the freezer for the beer, so it was always ice cold.

    When I was in Munich I had dinner at a huge beergarden, sitting with some folks from Saxony. The other woman at the table, learning that I was not a heavy beer fan, encouraged me to order what she was drinking, a radler. It's half beer and half sparkling lemonade, very refreshing!

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    1. Karen in Ohio: Sometime I would love to try the randler - half beer and half sparkling lemonade. I have German DNA from both of my parents. I wonder if the German potato pancakes are similar to the Irish potato pancakes of the potato latkes? Love your stories about Munich.
      Diana

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    2. In England, wouldn't a radler be a shandy?

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    3. Yep, Amanda, it's the same thing. You'd ask for a shandy here in the US as well.

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    4. Actually, a traditional shandy is made with what the Brits call lemonade, but what we call Sprite or 7Up. And a shandy can be made with cider.

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  14. No to beer. Yes to Oompah bands!

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    1. When will we get the polka revival we so richly deserve, Brenda?!?

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    2. Polka revival! Remember Lawrence Welk?

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  15. I can't do alcohol anymore - migraines and heartburn. But I did love beers of all kinds - a good thing since hubby brews his own (all kinds). Grows his own hops, too. And makes wine that everyone raves about. He used to work at one of the Finger Lakes wineries.

    In 2002 we took a trip to Belgium - at that time I was still drinking. On a six day trip we had 40 different beers between us. All those Dubbels and trippels and lambics and krieks. And in Belgium each beer has its own unique glass. We walked across Brussels to a small place where they still made Gueuze in a room in the attic with open windows to let the wild yeast get in. Gueuze is as sour as a beer can get. Probably undrinkable to most people.

    I also like hard cider and am glad there are so many people crafting that. We are in apple country here in Northern New York and there are some nice local ciders.

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    1. J.C., it's been interesting to me to see how the cider brewing industry has taken off in upstate NY. It's a perfect match, with all those orchards, and local brewers can produce a product made from local ingredients, rather than imported grains.

      And I LOVE Belgian beers. When Ross and I would visit NYC on business, we would always go to the Silver Swan, which was conveniently located in the Flatiron District. Long closed now, alas, but it had great German food and the MOST amazing beer menu I've ever experienced, including rare bottles of Belgian ale brewed by various abbeys. Sigh. There just aren't enough German cuisine restaurants around!

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  16. Not a beer lover at all; I just never acquired the taste. Maybe because I didn't come from a beer drinking family. Even in college where we could still drink at 18, I mostly gave it a pass. However, Octoberfest sounds like a lot of fun. Half of my ancestors were Palatine Germans so I must have a gene somewhere. And now I understand in the kids' books about the Mayflower how everyone was drinking cider. Some records say beer, but it amounted to about the same thing since there was no safe water to drink.

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    1. Judi, that's right. And beer and cider offered stable, long-term ways to store the calories from grain and apples in the millennia before pressure canning and refrigeration. The Egyptians were the first to brew beer, IIRC.

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  17. I used to volunteer at a local Oktoberfest on behalf of the company I worked for. It was the same core group every year and we had a great time.
    However I am not a beer lover, hard cider all the way for me. I have 2 Strongbow pint glasses from my trip to Great Britain.

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    1. I envy you, Ann! I used to have a pair of chunky pint glasses and they went missing on some move or another. I know they didn't break, because a nuclear explosion couldn't harm those things!

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  18. Like Julia, I am not much of a beer drinker as I always have to pee. As one of my friends said once. I don't drink beer, I rent it. I have actually been to the Hofbrauhaus during Oktober Fest. It was loud and fun.

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    1. Yes, that's me, too. Unfortunately, cider has the same effect, and I really love cider!

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    2. LOL!!! So true. You can't break the seal or you're going all night.

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  19. Hi Julia! This is a great post with the first day of Oktoberfest! I visited Germany briefly on my grand tour of Europe and totally missed Oktoberfest. Until recently, we had a local deli (owners decided to retire because of the pandemic). They had a wonderful collection of German beers. The wife Cindy was Canadian. The husband Bruno was German. I remember seeing pictures of Oktoberfest.

    There is a wonderful cozy mystery series by Ellie Alexander. The Sloan Kraus cozy mystery series is about a woman who married into a German family. The family owned a small brewery in Leavenworth, Washington. I came to love this series since the Bakeshop mysteries was my first series by this author.

    Speaking of beer, I am trying to remember if I had hard cider when I lived in England. I remember my English boyfriend saying that cider in England is very different from cider in America. I recall that the sparkling Apple Cider of my childhood was NON ALCOHOLIC. However, the cider in England, I think, is Alcoholic! I remember in college that several people really like beer. Because I have a sweet tooth, I never developed a taste for beer since beer to me tasted bitter.

    There are two "beers" that I loved. I grew up drinking Root Beer, which was my favorite soda. I rarely had soda because my parents believed in healthy food. I also love Ginger Ale. Sometimes I had Ginger Beer. I am not sure if Ginger Beer is alcoholic?

    Funny story about Ale and Beer. When we were shopping at Trader Joe's, we saw a bottle of Pumpkin Ale and we thought it was like Ginger Ale! Oh boy, were we wrong! The Pumpkin Ale tasted more like beer.

    Someone above commented on ? randle ? a mix of lemonade and beer? Sometime I would like to try that.

    Sorry my comment was so long!

    Diana

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    1. No such thing as a too-long comment, Diana (especially when you put in paragraph breaks, thank you!) Yes, British cider, which is also made in the US and Canada, is hard, and deceptively so, because it's sweet. As I learned to my aching head as a student in the UK.

      Ginger beer is NOT alcoholic, but it's a popular add-in to summertime mixed drinks because it's so refreshing. Also refreshing - a shandy, which is half lemonade and half beer. I believe it was an Australian invention, and you might like it - obviously it's much lighter than a glass of beer, and the lemonade cuts the bitterness of the beer's hops. It's also an excellent drink on a hot day (she types wistfully on a 58/14 degree day...)

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    2. We've have a local craft ginger beer here in North Texas. It is so good, and a lovely non-alcoholic alternative. My fave at the moment is the watermelon flavor.

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    3. Oh my husband loves anything ginger, alcoholic or non-alcoholic, food or drink.
      In London we had Stone's Ginger Wine (a cordial type drink)

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  20. Shalom Reds and fans. September 17, 1992 was the last time I had any alcoholic beverage. Since then, I have been abstinent and sober. My friends are happy for me. However, as a young adult, I drank plenty of beer. I am pretty brand loyal, and I think in my 20s I drank Miller. As I grew older, I shifted to dark beer, but I would drink whatever my hosts were offering. I lived in New York City and then Philadelphia, and I can’t remember even grocery shopping. Up until I left New York, most of my drinking would have been in bars and restaurants. In Pennsylvania, up until a few years ago, all liquor, wine and beer sales were a state monopoly. Now I live in Bucks County, PA and my local grocery store, has a license to sell beer and wine, but I never go into that section of the store. Every now and then, my flat mate brings home a couple of beers from the beer distributor, which he always has to show off to me. I try and be good natured about it and tell him to “Enjoy.”

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    1. David, congratulations on your 30th anniversary of sobriety!!!

      That's a big freaking deal. My daughter had her fourth anniversary this past June, and one thing I've learned sharing celebrations with a sober person is that you don't have to drink to have fun. As a matter of fact, I used to think she would get so goofy because of the booze - nope, it turns out that's all Victoria.

      Happy anniversary, and may you celebrate many more in peace and happiness.

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  21. I, too, learned how to drink beer at university. Those pitchers were affordable, and I could have only a small glass instead of a full pint or bottle. These days, I drink 0% Heineken, which is tasty and gives my liver a break :)

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    1. One of the best drink innovations I've seen in the past decade has been the rise of no-alcohol drinks, so people who enjoy the taste (and conviviality) of beer, wine and cocktails can enjoy them without having to indulge in the actual booze.

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  22. I drank more beer in the UK back in the late 70s and the 80s when you could not get a decent glass of wine in a pub. All that has changed, thank goodness.

    My favorite cider experience was an early trip to Somerset with my parents. It was apple harvest time and all the orchards were selling cider, some of which was the very high-alcohol scrumpy--watch out for that stuff!

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    1. Remember Rumpole's little wine bar, where he'd drink Chateau Thames Embankment? :-D

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  23. Beer lover here. One of the joys of travel is tasting the local brews. I buy microbrews for the most part for home drinking. My mom claimed I must have gotten the beer gene from Dad though it took a long time to kick in. I didn't start drinking beer until after college. I don't like any beer that is sweet or has a lot of added fruit. Remember one of Guinness's slogans, And Good For You? Well it is! Beer has silicon which helps build your bones.

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    1. And Pat wins the award for most useful information on the blog today! Next time I lift a glass, I'm telling everyone it's for my bone health.

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  24. Like to many of you, I had to LEARN to drink beer. I drank wine and the occasional extravagantly awful cocktail in college and then spent a year in Sweden. There, to be part of the normal life, I had to learn to drink both beer and coffee. And I not only learned to drink them but to like them. I remain mainly a wine drinker, but beer with Chinese food, Indian food, Mexican food, or anything spicy in a casual atmosphere is perfect. And sometimes in the summer there's nothing to beat it. Living in Switzerland, I drink Swiss beer; a local beer I like is a Berner Müntchi (a Bernese Kiss).

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    1. Agreed, Kim - beer is the BEST with spicy foods. (Ironically, since the part of Europe it's best associated with is evermore NOT traditionally spicy.)

      Despite being all over that part of the world, I've never visited Switzerland; when I do, I'm definitely trying the local beer.

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    2. Whoops. A Berner Müntschi

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    3. Yes, spicy foods require a nice beer to wash them down!

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    4. Yes, agree..spicy foods are great with beer. Indian food, Mexican, yes. But it is SO fattening!

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  25. Oops, my comments disappeared just as I was about to post them. So, shorter version is this. I have wanted to like beer since I was in college, thought I would eventually get there, but I'm still not there at 68 years old. I'm beginning to think it won't happen. But, I do enjoy celebrations and places that beer is a part of. When I went with my daughter and her family to the Newport Aquarium (Cincinnati), afterwards we went to Hofbrauhaus in Newport to eat and enjoy the music. I might not like beer, but I love accordion music, and it was in full swing that day. Margaret and Karen will know the Newport area, too. Although Newport is in Kentucky, it is a part of the Cincinnati scene. So much has been done since I was a kid to turn Newport into an amazing place for eating, shopping, entertainment, and, of course, the fabulous aquarium. Oh, and in my area, across the river a bit in New Harmony, Indiana is the Kundstfest every year, which has lots of artists and German food and beer if you want (but the alcohol is downplayed, as it's a family affair).

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    1. Kathy, that's appropriate, as the original design of Oktoberfest and other Volksfests were decidedly family-friendly.

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