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  • A Bad Ass Brew Day at Bad Seed Brewery

    BeerHawkatBadSeedLast Friday the trusty Beer Hawk team made our way on over to Malton, North Yorkshire to try our hand at brewing a beer with the great guys at Bad Seed Brewery. We'll probably stick to our day jobs (a sort of self-imposed exile) but we had such a great time.

    It's hard not to with the comedic timing of Chris--master brain behind the brewery--who, when asked how old he was, proceeded to give us what sounded like a Match.com dating profile. He likes long walks on the beach, ladies!

    Unfortunately, due to a longer-than-expected drive up there (for reasons that will forever be a part of Beer Hawk lore) we missed the best-smelling part: the mashing. For those who don't know, this is the step where the grains used in the recipe are steeped in boiling water for a time in order to extract the necessary sugars. This sugary liquid is called the "wort." At this stage the brewery smells like a sweet, grainy bread factory. And it is amazing.

    Will, all smiles, doing a terrible job. Will, all smiles, doing a terrible job.

    Nevertheless, we did get there in time to add some delicious hops from New Zealand--or what Amanda declared to look like "dried sprouts." Brewer-extraordinaire James was kind enough to let us add the hops (which is one of the most exciting parts as the hops impart a lot of flavor to the beer.) The process consists of adding the hops to the boiling wort and then giving a good stir. The concept of a "good stir" seemed to have been lost on us as we were quickly demoted when James grabbed the paddle to show us how it is really done because our dainty swirls in the boil just weren't cutting it.

    Louise having a nip. Louise having a nip.

    After its exactly-timed boil--in which case the hops gave off the preferred bittering and aroma characteristics--it was time to cool and filter the wort to get it ready for the little yeasties who were going to convert the sugars to alcohol for us. If you don't chill it to a proper temperature, you'll kill the yeast. And then all you'll have is a hoppy sugary yeasty mess. Yet, with expert guidance from the guys at Bad Seed, we were able to successfully "pitch the yeast." But not before having a taste of what we'd accomplished so far.

     

    Our creation--which has been dubbed "Hawk-Eye PA" by one of our clever Facebook fans--is intended to be a well-hopped lager hybrid. We'll see whether or not we were triumphant in our creation in a few weeks as the beer is currently tucked away and letting the yeast do their thing in fermentation. Nevertheless, the true mark of a successful brew day is how--ahem--rosy the noses get. Let's just say, we won't need to worry about our marks from the French judge.

    Bad Seed Chris and some proper brewer's hair. Bad Seed Chris and some proper brewer's hair.

    Thanks again to the great guys at the fantastic Bad Seed Brewery for hosting us and letting us drink all your beer. We had such a great time and we're very grateful for the opportunity!  We'd love to reciprocate by showing you what a day packing boxes in the warehouse is like. Shall we schedule that for sometime around Christmas?

  • Stone Brewing Co. Has Landed!

    It's that time again--those who gazed wistfully out to sea from our western shores finally have their patience rewarded: the great Stone ship has steamed into port carrying delicious gifts from the new world! Sadly, the ship was a little smaller this time carrying with it just a few beauties from their extensive range. Yet, we've happened to get our beery talons on Stone IPA and Stone Ruination IPA. Deeeelicious.

    StoneIPA.1Routinely rated as one of the best IPAs in the world, Stone IPA is also rated as one of my favorites. I love how refreshing and crisp it is thanks to all of the gorgeous hops and two weeks of dry-hopping. If there's anything that Stone knows how to do better than others, it's playing with hops. American hops are the star of this IPA's show with its notes of citrus, grapefruit, and pine. Just beautiful.

    StoneRuination.1When I'm looking for a good kick to the face (or am wanting to finish a good session off right!) I turn to the Big Daddy--Stone Ruination IPA. 8.2% and a big, bold palate-wrecker, this beer is not for those who are looking for something easy to drink. It is brutally bitter. Yet, despite that apocalyptic description, there is actually a bit of finesse that is evident with regards to the use of hops. Intense notes of juicy citrus, resin and pine are backed-up by a good bit of maltiness. I just love this "liquid poem to the...hop."

    I would be disappointed that some of my favorites--the Cali-Belgique and the Smoked Porter (to name a couple)--hadn't arrived if it weren't for the fact that Stone Brewing Co. is opening up a massive Berlin-based brewery this year with brewing scheduled to commence in late-2015. This brewery complex will not only feature a restaurant, gardens and shop it will also improve distribution throughout Europe of all of our favorite Stone year-round beers AND special releases. This means us!

    I can't tell you the number of times I've come back from a trip home to the States with my suitcase clinking full of the latest Stone Enjoy-By or a special release. Think of all the clothes I don't have to leave behind or the baggage fees I don't have to pay now that those of us who are loyal to Stone over here in Europe are better served by distribution! Yeah!

    So, good Stone-ship watchers of the UK: hopefully this biannual arrival from the West will be replaced soon with regular transport from the land of the Reinheitsgebot. Until then, dear beer drinkers--wet your whistle with what we've got. It'll tide you over, I promise.

    -- Maggie

  • December's Beer Club--Brewfist and Christmas Specials

    You must've been extra good this year because you're getting some exciting stuff in our December's Beer Club. In our last Beer Club for 2014, we are saying "Thank You" in the best way we know how: by stuffing this box full of some of our favorites. I'm too stoked about the fact that you're getting BREWFIST this month to care about spoiling the surprise. That's right, Brewfist is here at The Hawk.

    spacemanI first discovered northern-Italy's Brewfist on a trip to Rome a few years ago. I knew of the rumblings of great craft beer in Italy but upon my first sip of Brewfist's Simcoe-Citra-Columbus-hopped Spaceman IPA, I was a total convert. Since you were such good boys and girls this year, we're happy to pop in the Spaceman into both the Normal strength and Strong cases.

    Both the Normal and Strong-Light cases will also see Brewfist's fantastic Low Gravity saison, while the Strong case will also find the Space Frontier IPA--another one of my favorites--as well as the Brewfist Spaghetti Western Stout. Now aren't you glad you were so good this year? (Well, it's not like we wouldn't have given it to you anyway, but play along, mmmkay?)

    DeliriumChristmasI wouldn't be making all of these Christmas references if you weren't also getting some really great Christmas seasonal beers this month. Anchor Christmas Ale, Ilkley Mary Christmas, and Delirium Christmas are some of the beery cheer that you'll find in the Normal strength case. Those of you who prefer the Strong case will be getting rosy cheeks thanks to the likes of Delirium Christmas, Bush Noël, and Slaapmutske Christmas, among others.

    If you find yourself trembling with excitement waiting for the big day when you'll get everything you wanted--the day Beer Hawk's Beer Club arrives, of course--wait until you get a load of this: The Normal and Strong cases are also getting Left Hand's Fade to Black Volume 1. Yessir (and ma'am), this beautiful Foreign Extra Stout is that extra special treat that we're very excited to include in the month's Beer Club. (But shhhh--it's only for our Beer Club members.)

    Of course this month's 15 beers will be rounded out with some of our other favorites but I think I've already told you too much. You'll just have to wait for the day when the big man in the delivery truck comes. Cheers and Hoppy Christmas!

    --Maggie

    Beer Sommelier

  • November's Beer Club -Siren and the Mighty Mikeller

    I'm pretty sure that the following words have never been said in this order "Hmmm, those Mikeller beers, you know, I can take just them or leave them"...IT'S IMPOSSIBLE AS THEY ARE JUST AMAZING!

    If you've not come across Mikeller before then the synopsis of the story is that in 2006, Mikkel Borg Bjergsø was a Maths & Physics teacher with a fairly advanced home brew kit.  He and his friend Kristian Keller (a journalist) decided to take the experimentation to the next level and in the school lab started running a so called "physics experiment" using malt, hops and yeast.  Fast forwarding on a few years, they are now one of the most revered brewers on the planet.

    Mikkeller Beer Geek Breakfast Lovely on your Cornflakes!

    The beer that really gave them the big break was none other than the Beer Geek Breakfast - an oatmeal stout brewed with french press coffee.  It swiftly shot to number 1 on Ratebeer after being profiled in the Danish beer festival scene and it's one of the Mikeller beers i've put into this month's cases. If you've selected a preference for lighter beers, then don't worry, i've put an American Dream into your delivery instead, but i'd challenge the most ardent stout-hater to not like this beer.

     

    If you follow us on Twitter (@thebeerhawk) you'll probably be aware that there was a moment of utter joy a couple of weeks back when we received some of the latest developments from Siren Brewing.  Their 10 Finger Discount was one of my beers oftickle the year in 2013 and after making me cry by telling me that it wasn't planned in this year's brew cycle i'm delighted to say it's back and has some new friends in the form of 10-Toes Discount and a Tickle Monster.  They are all variations on a theme - a single hopped IPA aged on Cedar wood and brewed in collaboration with To Øl (like Mikeller another fabulous Danish Brewer), but it's the pungent pine aromas that mark this range out from the crowd and i'm delighted to include one of this range in eacc of this month's cases too.

    There's more of course to make up the rest of your 15, i've included the very seasonal Big Leaf Maple from Anchor Brewing, 2 of the newest Bootlegger series from London Fields and one of the newest from our friends at TicketyBrew a Rose Wheat and a new stout.  As ever I hope you enjoy the beers and i'll now go and sort you some beers for next month when you can be certain on or two Christmas ales will be gracing your case.

    Cheers,

     

    Chris

    Taster-in-Chief

  • The Great American Beer Festival Recap

    *Phew. I'm back. And partially recovered.

    I've been to a lot of beer festivals but the Great American Beer Festival is world class. If you've never had the chance to go and want to experience the quintessential celebration of beer, then start booking your flights to Denver, Colorado. There truly isn't another one better.

    Merely a fraction of what's to come. Merely a fraction of what's to come.

    My festival experience started with some really good advice from the locals: do not wait in the queue beforehand. In order to be towards the front, it's best to get there a good two hours before the doors open. That means waiting in line for two hours when you could otherwise be enjoying the great city of Denver. We decided to get in line just after the doors opened at about 5:40pm. After a very efficient entry process (which included ticket scan, ID check, and wristbands) we had glass-in-hand by 6:03. So all of those people that sacrificed two hours of their lives just to be first had about 15 minutes of bliss before they had to wait in all of the lines inside.

    Once inside, we were greeted by the beautiful sight of hundreds of America's best breweries that stretched throughout the conference center as far as the eye could see. A great GABF iPhone app helped me pick out some of the not-so-well-known breweries as the more than 400 breweries and thousands of beers made it necessary to do some research beforehand. I made a conscious decision to seek out some of smaller regional superstars as opposed to the juggernauts. Organized by region--Pacific, Great Lakes, Southwest, etc.--it was quite easy to navigate towards the breweries that I had pre-selected. Crowds of toga-clad men and Storm Troopers notwithstanding.

    I headed directly towards Wicked Weed Brewing of Asheville, North Carolina: a brewery I didn't know much of but had read a good bit about beforehand. As with all of the other breweries there, Wicked Weed had brought along with them about six of the beers that THEY wanted to show off to the crowds. Deciding to bestow upon them the prestigious award of "My First Beer at GABF, " I selected their Serenity 100% Brett Saison from choices ranging from a double red ale to an IPA.  It was a beauty; beautifully dry, funky and refreshing, it was a fantastic saison and one I'd routinely seek out.

    Wicked Weed Brewing--Winner of the "My First Beer at GABF" award. Wicked Weed Brewing--Winner of the "My First Beer at GABF" award.

    After enjoying my first beer, I made my way over to the Beer and Food Pavilion for one of the fest's most impressive offerings: a free 30-minute beer and food pairing courtesy of Green Flash Brewing's Director of Beer Education, Dave Adams, and Chef Lon from Denver's great ChoLon Bistro. A beautiful braised pork cheek with celeriac purée and Asian pear salad was paired with Green Flash's Flanders Drive--a gorgeous Flanders red with notes of vanilla, cherry, and sour earthiness that had been aged in a charred American oak bourbon barrel. The pairing was absolutely spot-on while the presentation of information to an obviously well-educated beer audience made it a fantastic experience. For free!

    Food

    I could go on and on about all of the great beers that I tried--from San Francisco's Almanac Beer Co.'s Farmer's Reserve Citrus Wild Ale to Russian River's Pliny the Elder to Firestone Walker's Opal Saison--but I'll save you from the jealousy inanity. You'd be safe in assuming that all of the beers were on form and with 1oz tastes it was so easy to make your way around testing as many beers as time allowed. The best part was that--for the most part--the brewers were behind the bars! From the great guys from Holy City Brewing Co. to the monks from New Mexico's Abbey Brewing Company (who made a GREAT dubbel, by the way) it's so great to have the opportunity to talk beer with the people behind it.

    I feel that the Great American Beer Festival is a fabulous celebration of all that is great on the American beer scene. Fun and laughter could be heard from every corner. Grown men dressed as babies. 15,000 people got along fabulously. One of the festival traditions is to mockingly yell at anyone who dropped their plastic tasting glass. Indeed, that happened a lot more regularly as the night went on. No more than 15 seconds would pass by without hearing a crowd from some corner of the center embarrassing those who dared drop their glass. I may have mocked one or two people myself. While white-knuckling my glass.

    Me and Hop Man! Me and Hop Man!

    Everything that could've been thought of, was thought of. Designated Drivers had their own lounge. The drunkest among us could make fools of themselves at the Silent Disco. Beer education was abound. While the lines to the toilets were no shorter than those of any other beer festival I had ever been to, the sense of conviviality and being a part of something great didn't make it seem so bad.

    --Maggie

    Goodbye GABF--until next time! Goodbye GABF--until next time!
  • Craft Beer in Northern Michigan, USA

    BeerOn this, the opening of the Great American Beer Festival, I want to tell you about something really exciting that is happening in my hometown area. Transforming itself from a sleepy region where hearty Michiganders partake in hunting, water sports, and shoveling snow for six months out of the year, Northern Michigan is helping solidify Michigan's position as a Top-5 beer state.

    I'm currently in the midst of a two-week holiday in my hometown of Manistee, Michigan to visit family and am finding--*ahem*--ample opportunity to "research" the area's beer scene. While Founders, Bell's and Short's is abound in every grocery store and convenience market from Ludington to Traverse City (and beyond) the true reach of Michigan's craft beer industry is found in the most surprising places.

    Northern Michigan's largest city is Traverse City: population 15,000. Brewery population: 14. Admittedly some of these breweries serve the local population by means of their brewpub and restaurant, yet a great many more are making interstate and international inroads. While Jolly Pumpkin, North Peak Brewing, Right Brain Brewery, and Bellaire's (a T.C. "suburb," if you will) Short's have been the area's main players for years, the newcomers of Bravo Zulu Brewing, Brewery Terra Firma, and Brewery Ferment are proof that the Michigan beer industry is working. And putting people to work.

    Continuing further south along Lake Michigan, the tiny town of Frankfort, Michigan boasts the fantastic Stormcloud Brewing Co. This Belgian-inspired brewery is producing great ales ranging from saisons to tequila-barrel-aged beauties to a Harvest Pale Ale (my favorite) using 24-hour-old hops sourced from the Empire Hops Farm--a farm that is located less than 30 miles away in Empire, Michigan. 14-month-old Stormcloud Brewing Co. is spearheading the Frankfort Beer Week and already has plans in the works to expand its brewing capacity to meet demand and to work their way into bottling their beers.

    Stormcloud Brewing Co. Stormcloud Brewing Co.

    With all of that said, none of the breweries in the world would succeed without the support of the surrounding communities. And that is no more evident than it is in Northern Michigan. Everywhere I go businesses proudly promote Michigan beer. Small convenience stores in the middle of nowhere have entire cases devoted to the state's great product while the camouflage-bedecked clerk can wax-lyrical about the newest single-hop pale ale. Coffee houses, like Brew pictured above, have a draft and bottle list of Michigan beers a country-mile long. The Lake Michigan beach town of Ludington gives us The Mitten Bar--voted one of the country's best beer bars--exclusively serving Michigan beers.

    BrewTC Brew in downtown Traverse City

    Michigan has been rife with unemployment for years and Detroit's famed auto industry is struggling. Craft beer, therefore, has not only been a welcome industry but a necessary one. The Michigan Brewers Guild has been the driving force behind that. A cohesive organization with an active presence in the state government, the Michigan Brewers Guild can proudly claim that it assisted in the creation of over 7,000 jobs with an economic impact of over $600,000,000 (£370,000,000) in the state.

    The Mitten Bar, Ludington The Mitten Bar, Ludington

    Craft beer in Michigan extends far beyond bottles and draft; many sister industries are enjoying extensive growth. Indeed, the geographic location of the state along the 45˚parallel allows for an exploding hop-growing industry while Michigan-grown barley is making a comeback. With a new Fermentation Science certification program beginning at Central Michigan University, scores of undergraduates are sure to make certain that Michigan's craft beer industry is here to stay.

    This is only part of the Michigan beers available at this tiny po-dunk party store. This is only part of the Michigan beers available at this tiny po-dunk party store.

    I am astounded and amazed at how quickly and deeply the industry has supported my fellow Michiganians. The images of a crumbling Detroit are replaced by a light similar to a Lake Michigan lighthouse guiding those to the relative safety of a craft beer harbor. So, it is with a sense of duty that I pack my suitcase full of t-shirts and stickers. And as I make my return back to the UK my suitcase clinks with the better part of 20 Michigan beers. Because I too, was brewed in Michigan.

    --Maggie

  • October's Beer Club featuring Bad Seed Brewery, Left Hand and Salopian

    It's always something of a mad rush in September as we try to cram in orders with the last of our target breweries before we turn our minds to our minds Christmas and all the beery fun that entails. It's just round the corner folks, but lets close our eyes and pretend otherwise! From our customer's point of view though that brings a bonanza of new beers on board and this September has been no different...

    Salopian Kinetic Even the bottles look cool!

    September 2014 has duly boosted our range and I have decided to profile three of our newest breweries in the October Beer Club; Bad Seed, Left Hand and Salopian. Frankly, Salopian has been on my "Get this brewery in immediately" list for a stupidly long time. I tried their Shropshire Gold in a bottle more than two years ago and was really taken with how they combined the clean and fresh mouthfeel with such a hoppy profile and squeezed it into a 3.8% recipe.

    About six months afterwards they started producing a stunning 330ml range of more niche seasonals as well, at which point I was hooked. These change fairly regularly but the current one Kinetic is a beautiful IPA.

    I was asked on Twitter this week, why I'd taken so long to get Salopian in and the honest answer is I've just no excuse; it's a fair cop. Brilliant beers like these are exactly what we should be getting in... sorry for the delay!

    Bad Seed Saison Bad seed, Good beer!

    Onward then to Left Hand Brewing and Bad Seed Brewery from Colorado and Yorkshire respectively and both of which Maggie, our Beer Sommelier has written blogs about separately, suffice to say both are producing beer that's a little bit out of the ordinary.

    I'm particularly taken with the quality of Bad Seed's Saison, which is a style still rare amongst British brewers. I like it so much that I'll be squeezing it into our Great British Beer Selection in time for gifts at Christmas! Yikes, I said the word again - best go switch my attention from all these summery IPAs and Saisons to selecting a mighty fine range of porters, stouts and seasonal beers for the festive season....and I promise not to be so late with those!

    Cheers
    Chris (Beer-Taster-In-Chief)

  • Bad Seed Brewery Has Rolled In!

    Bad Seed, good guys. That's right, some of the nicest guys with some of Yorkshire's nicest beer have finally found their way into our warehouse. And it's about time, considering that Bad Seed Brewery is one of our North Yorkshire neighbors!

    Lots of beery goodness is driving around in here... Lots of beery goodness is driving around in here...

    I first discovered Bad Seed probably not too long after their launch at the great Friends of Ham in Leeds. My first impression was "why is the price tag still hanging off of it?" because of the bottle's little tag-doohickey thing. Yet, opinions of the of-course-it-dunked-straight-into-my-beer device is not what I walked away with. Indeed, it was their deliciously light and spritzy Saison that made me want to know more about these Bad Seed guys. Fortunately, thanks to the best gig in the world, I now get to.

    The gregarious Chris and passionate James have taken their brand from strength to strength in the past year. They've collaborated with other great breweries (striking gold with the Northern Monk collab--Salted Lemon Wit), made solid showings at various beer festivals, and--beyond just expanding their range--they've experimented with sour beers and produced a fabulous Cherry Sour. Which sold out way too fast.

    BadSeedBoxes

    It's serendipity that the Saison from this Malton, North Yorkshire microbrewery has finally found its way into our range alongside some of their other great stuff: the smooth and rich Espresso Stout, refreshing and clean Hefeweizen, and the über-hoppy India Pale Ale. From a random brewery with a tag on its bottle to a passionate player on the beer-scene, I couldn't be happier that we've got some great beer from the nicest Bad Seeds there are. I can't wait to see what they come up with next.

    -Maggie

  • I'm Beer Sommelier Certified!

    Photo: The Beer Academy Photo: The Beer Academy

    On Friday, September 18th after several years of researching, studying, writing, and, ermm, drinking beer, I finally got my Beer Sommelier certification from the prestigious Beer Academy--an arm of the Institute of Brewing and Distilling--in London. I'm very proud to join the ranks of some of the best beer people out there  and super excited to be Beer Hawk's actual-on-piece-of-paper beer sommelier.

    Having no idea what to expect going in to the assessment, I have to admit that I was a bundle of nerves on the train down to London. I didn't know if I was going to have to taste a million beers and say which breweries they came from. Was I to brew a beer from grain to glass in two hours? Define "Craft?" Recite Voltaire?

    Without compromising the integrity of the test, I won't give all the beery details. I will say, however, that it wasn't as simple as sitting around and getting hammered--although that would've been awesome. I had to explain bits of my portfolio of evidence which was followed by tasting and style identification. Likewise, I had to show evidence of understanding where specific components of a beer came from. And some off-flavors made an appearance (delicious...) Pretty much it was a bit more than an hour and a half of beer-talk.

    Besides becoming a member of a relatively elite club, another good thing came out of the assessment: I found where my weakness is. While I'm quite good at beer pairing and understanding the brewing process, I'm a little weak in some of my style identification. While I was spot-on with a good number of them and in the ballpark of a handful of others, I completely blew it on a couple of them. I wish I could tell you how bad I blew it but let's just say I got a good mocking from my "dear friends" when I told them what I missed. They're so supportive.

    IBDSignDespite my doofus misstep--and never being able to look at a couple of these beers the same way again--the fact of the matter is, of course I'd make some mistakes. This is a lifelong learning process and one that doesn't stop with a shiny new beer sommelier badge. While I feel as though this accomplishment is a validation for all of the hard work I've done to date, it is also a passageway into the even bigger world of beer. And I'm so happy that I get to make the voyage--on my own, and with the great crew here at Beer Hawk! Cheers!

    -Maggie

    SommelierBadge

  • Ein Prosit! It's Oktoberfest!

    A good few years ago (hence why I look so young and vibrant) I made one of the ultimate beer-pilgrimages: Munich's Oktoberfest. So each year when the air starts getting crisp and the leaves start to change, I find myself reliving the memories of our trip to Germany. I crave those refreshing and smooth lagers. I want pretzels, and spaetzle, and sausages. I wonder what ever happened to my souvenir Ich Liebe Dich cookie that I wore around my neck. I didn't eat it and I'm pretty sure I wore it home on the plane like every good tourist should.

    That time is upon us again--it's Oktoberfest! A festival that started in 1810--initially as a celebration for Crown Prince Ludwig's wedding but had morphed over the years to include horse-racing and an autumn festival--has ultimately found its identity as a place to drink liters upon liters of deliciously drinkable Oktoberfest beer while being enchanted by smells of grilled meat, pretzels, and roughly six million people all trying to use the same toilets. There truly is nothing better.

    Here's me and a beautiful Märzen at Stuttgart's Volksfest. Here's me and a beautiful Märzen at Stuttgart's Volksfest.

    Oktoberfest lasts for roughly 16 days--this year is September 20th through October 5th--and is generally synonymous with the Bavarian city of Munich. While other cities, most notably Stuttgart, host their own versions called "Volksfests" it's only six breweries from Munich that can and do produce the famous Oktoberfest beers. If the same beer style is produced by a brewery outside of Munich, it's called a Märzen. Whatever you call it, it's a beer that was traditionally last brewed in March (or Märzen in German, get it?!) before it got too warm to do so during the summer. The deep-golden-coloured, bready, spicy, malty-sweet-yet-bitter refreshingly drinkable lager would find itself ready just in time for harvest. And now just in time for us to have one too many.

    My experience at Stuttgart was better than in Munich as there was a lot more space and it was easier to chat with those around you. We befriended some locals sitting next to us--and inexplicably (read: too many beers) paid for their beer all night. I'm pretty sure our evening ended with us dancing on the table singing "Sweet Home Alabama" like we were the original writers of the song.

    Before and After Before and After

    Munich or Stuttgart, the process is the same. Huge semi-permanent tents where thousands party late into the night. Thrill rides that I'm surprised the EU permits. Grilled food, fried food, sweet food. Beer. Men in lederhosen, women in dirndls. It's all that makes Oktoberfest great and why it's a must-go. Because, truth be told, nowhere else would you see a sturdy German woman with Popeye-arms carrying her bodyweight in steins of Oktoberfest lager. Or, if you're (or your spouse is) of German heritage, your family name on your very own beer tent.

    --Maggie

    The non-Americanised spelling of our family name. Nope. They didn't care. The non-Americanised spelling of our family name. Nope. They didn't care.

    Can't make it to Bavaria? Don't have Popeye arms? Then have your own Oktoberfest at home (don't forget the sausages and the pretzels!) with our very own The Magic of Oktoberfest mixed case. Prost!

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