Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Hong Kong Bierfest

The Hong Kong Bierfest

This evening I went with everyone from the office to the Hong Kong Bierfest. This is the largest Bierfest in Asia, apparently, although given the less-than-farflung reach of the German Empire in the East, it might well be the only one east of Germany.

The first time and only time I went to the Oktoberfest I expected it to be a marquee full of pissed-up Germans, wearing jeans and faded Iron Maiden t-shirts. Instead, it was a theme park full of pissed up Germans, mostly coralled into grand drinking shed, serenaded by oompah bands at ever increasing volume. This was also the only time I've ever been punched in the gob by an ancient German on a spinning wooden disc, but the story of Me vs Das Teufelrad is for another day.1

Hong Kong, curiously, stands to confirm my prejudices. The Hong Kong Bierfest is nominally held at the Marco Polo Hotel in Kowloon, but it's actually at the end of the carpark, so far away from the hotel that it might as well be on the other side of the harbour. And it's in a marquee, rather than an enormous drinking shed. Most of the alcoholic Germans are on stage playing alpenhorns, and there's a real shortage of lederhosen.

Ok, there are still people wearing leather shorts, but not a whole army of them. And instead of women wearing the world's most sexist national dress2, you're served beer by ladies in rubber dresses. Maybe they were worried everyone would get too drunk and they'd need to clean lots of vomit off them.

Because everyone isn't trapped in a confined space with the sound of oompah relentlessly echoing upon you, the community spirit you get in Munich from being trapped with thousands of dipsomaniacs never quite arrives, although the band does their best to encourage everyone. But the local Hong Kongers are usually quite shy and retiring, not willing to down a pint of lager or blow into an alpenhorn for the acclamation of their peers.

This is a shame, because although the portions of pork knuckle and nurnburger sausage are generous, and the beer doesn't taste too much of formaldehyde, you aren't magically transported to Germany by the whole experience. You're still sat on a rickety bench in a car park stuck in the middle of Victoria Harbour, while a chill wind blows over you3.

Perhaps it would be better in a slightly more intimate, claustrophobic environment, like in a basement, perhaps. But Germans and beer cellars are a risky proposition, as any Weimaraners4 from the 1920s might tell you.

So I can't wholeheartedly recommend the Bierfest, but if you like sausages, beer, alpenhorns, leather shorts or marquees hastily erected in windy car-parks, then the Bierfest has something for you. If you despise all such things, perhaps not.

The Bierfest runs into late November, for anyone lazy/disorganised enough to miss the real Oktoberfest in Munich. In September. Those crazy Germans, eh?

[P.S. I've been especially nice today, and modified all of the footnotes so that if you click on a footnote, it will take you back to where it linked from above. Although if you're reading this, you've apparently skipped over the footnotes anyway. Sigh. ]

1 Tales of the Corporate Lederhosen are also part of a Story To Be Told Some Other Time.
2 The dirndl, that quintessentially German combination of dress and bustier. Jerry Hall may have said a woman should be a maid in the kitchen and a whore in the bedroom, but it looks like the German nation figured she should be able to multi-task in one room...
3 It seems strange that 25 degrees Centigrade should be cold, but somehow, even coming from the polar environment that is a Hong Kong air conditioned office, but there's something about the humidity, or the drop in temperature from 32, that puts an inexplicable chill in your bones. It can't be that inexplicable, given the dual explanations I've provided above. But I digress. Again.
4 Well ok, not small, highly-strung dogs, but people inhabiting the Weimar Republic. But I think you know what I was getting at.


Minne Bus said...

I take it you had fun.

Mr Cushtie said...

I'll never complain about complimentary beer and dinner...

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