My Town Monday Cincinnati: Oktoberfest Zinzinnati

Every September, thousands of people descend on Fountain Square to drink beer. A LOT of beer. Not just any beer, either. Oh, the usual premium brands are there, from Samuel Adams to the various Guiness brands to German brands like Warsteiner. But then there are other beers there as well. Beers you may never see again until next September. Beers that will knock you flat and have strange flavors.

It is Oktoberfest Zinzinnati, an inevitable extension of the city’s German heritage. After all, a few blocks north is a neighborhood called Over the Rhine. Cincinnati’s Oktoberfest claims to be the largest such celebration outside of Germany, and it certainly is one of the largest with over half a million visitors – more than the population of the city itself (just under 300,000) – converging on downtown for the weekend.

Oktoberfest Zinzinnati these days is sponsored by Samuel Adams, the craft beer brainchild of Cincinnati native and Boston resident Jim Koch. There is a lot of sausage served at Oktoberfest, but when you consider that Cincinnati is home to John Morrell Meats, Sara Lee, and Kahn’s, as well as the goetta capital of the world, what did you expect? In Cleveland, there would likely be more kielbasa than bratts and metts, and in Philly and Baltimore, they would likely have scrapple. But this is Cincinnati, and the cuisine here will be extremely German.

But it’s the beer that brings people. Back in my days at BigHugeCo, I found myself working on a Saturday morning during Oktoberfest. I could step out of the lobby and right into Oktoberfest. So when I finished up for the morning, I did exactly that.

The booth closest to my building sold this strange brew from the former East Germany I’d never seen before. I tried a pint. I had another.

Driving home after two beers – normally not an issue for me – was not an option. It was good, but baby, it was strong!

The Oktoberfest here in Cincinnati has one other claim to fame: The World’s Largest Chicken Dance.

More at the My Town Monday blog.

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