German beer, schnitzel, music and good friends. Birmingham Oktoberfest promised so much. Unfortunately though, it delivered so little.
I’m not usually one for scathing reviews but I was so disappointed after my Oktoberfest experience I felt the need to share it.
My friends and I decided to go along this year having read some of the reviews on Yelp of last year’s event. We booked tickets online which included entry on Saturday, reserved seats in section C, snacks, 2 drinks, a meal and a dessert. At £44 plus a booking fee, it wasn’t cheap, and though I wasn’t expecting any luxury, I was expecting better than we received.
Our tickets stated that we had to arrive before 4pm in order to get our reserved seats, which we dutifully did, despite there being no signs at the entrance to Cannon Hill Park that we went into. When we finally found the tent, we were directed to the benches right at the back of the tent, as far away from the stage as could possibly be. The lady pointed and said ‘this whole section is section c’ despite the website being marked up very differently.
Instantly disappointed, we decided to make the most of it and get one of our drinks. We went to the bar for our beers which were all already poured, so service was quick. The one thing I was expecting to be decent was the beer, but that wasn’t great either. The usual beer served at Munich Oktoberfest is Märzen — a medium bodied, malty lager, which I assume this was. It was fairly dark and had a caramelly note to it, but after the two 1.5l beers we had, we really didn’t want to drink any more! If you’re just there to get completely smashed then I’m sure it would have been fine, but if you’re a craft beer fan like me then you’d probably have been disappointed.
The food was the real kicker though. Described on the menu as a delicious Bavarian schnitzel served with fries, potato salad, sauerkraut and salad, what we got was an unidentified piece of breaded meat, cold chips and no accompaniments other than some tiny sachets of ketchup and mayo. Trying to attract the attention of a waitress so we could order our food was hard enough, but trying to work out what the hell was actually in this schnitzel was the real conundrum. I was positive it was turkey (as it tasted like an overpriced Bernard Matthews turkey drummer), one of my friends thought it was pork, the other thought it could even have been tofu! Worrying when you can’t even tell.
The ‘dessert’ ended up being a small bottle of a herbal liqueur called Underberg. This stuff was really rough, it tasted like a bitter version of Jaegermeister that burnt on the way down. Not exactly what I was expecting for dessert!
There was no oom pa pa band to see, just some rather irritating sounding Eurotrash coming from the stage which didn’t really lend itself to a singalong on the benches, so we decided to make a move.
Luckily we could stop off at The Woodman on the way home to have some real German beer so our day wasn’t entirely wasted.
Sadly the next day all of us were very ill, despite drinking only a few beers each. I complained to the organisers over a week ago and they have failed to respond, which I can only assume is because they’ve made their money and left the country!
For me, the whole thing felt like a student party at Fresher’s week, horrendously overpriced for very poor quality beer and food, served in a freezing cold tent in a car park. Not for me at all. I think next time I go to Oktoberfest, I’ll be going to Munich!