Atlanta German Bierfest review
Story and Photos by Tonya Vots
Dozens of volunteers sported bright yellow T-shirts with the phrase “Wir Sind Beirfest!” (We are Beerfest!) at scenic Woodruff Park in downtown Atlanta for the eighth annual German Bierfest, held Saturday, August 27, 2011.
Sponsored by the German-American Chambers of Commerce (GACC), the family friendly fest brought together fans of German beer, food and culture. The festival attracted a few thousand local and not-so-local road trip patrons, including a few reported Hurricane Irene refugees.
“I know we sold more tickets than last year,” says Pamela Jackson, manager of communications for GACC. “Last year we sold 3,250 tickets, and we’re still waiting on final numbers on ticket sales this year.”
The organizers’ efforts to ensure a hassle-free event were evident in several places at the fest, beginning with lines at two entrances which moved swiftly to admit all ages. Designated drivers were admitted free, but were marked with a large “X” on the back of both hands.
Past the gates and a few vendors, beer tents lined one side of the park, while the other side offered space and shade for those who chose to enjoy their beer and socializing out of the sun. Temps were in the low 90s as the fest started, but low humidity and an almost continuous breeze kept fest-goers in a good mood.
Attendees received an attractive etched tasting glass to sample the 40 German brews available. This year saw a return of actual glass samplers, a change from last year’s plastic cups.
“Last year we were trying to avoid the issues created by broken glass, so we changed to plastic cups,” Jackson says. “Enough people advocated real glass that we returned to them this year.”
All beer served had one prerequisite—be made in accordance with the Reinheitsgebot, the German beer purity law. Many of the brewery names were familiar to beer fans including: Weihenstephaner, Spaten, Paulaner, Warsteiner and St. Pauli Girl.
Other breweries included Tucher, Jever, Hacker Pschorr, Kulmbacher and Gaffel. Neighborhood brewpub Max Lager’s was the only non-German beer being poured; they indulged patrons with a red Vienna-style lager.
Hefeweizens, pilsners and lagers were poured in abundance, but so were festbiers, namely Oktoberfestbiers by Warsteiner, Spaten and Weihenstephaner.
Other classic German styles to be found included Kölsch and dunkel. Not surprisingly, several of the featured brews were gone by 5 p.m., but that didn’t deter beer fans who seemed to enjoy the full spectrum of beers available.
Authentic German food, including bratwurst and fresh pretzels were available from restaurant vendors including Der Biergarten and Ormsby’s. Atlanta area beer fest regular vendor Frozen Pints brought a crew to hand out tasty craft beer flavored ice cream. “Beer Connoisseur” magazine continued to help spread the good news among the craft beer community. Unique to this festival was Rare Dirndls, a collection of modern, high fashion dirndls by designer Erika Neumayer, available for sale to the public.
Lederhosen, dirndls, hats, flags and t-shirts all proudly celebrated German customs and heritage. Conversation in lines for refills often turned to comparison of beers and the Deutsch language flowed as freely as the beer in some circles.
Whether they came for the beer, the food, the music or the people-watching, the Atlanta German Bierfest had something for everyone who attended.
Next year, organizers plan for much of the same.
“Everyone seems to enjoy what we do and we enjoy where we are,” Jackson says. “We have a great relationship with Woodruff Park and like what it offers, with the green grass and shade.