by Barnaby Hughes
When Bavarian Crown Prince Ludwig I married Princess Therese von Sachsen-Hildburghausen in Munich, Germany, back in 1810, he probably couldn’t have imagined that he was beginning a new tradition – Oktoberfest. The original lasted for sixteen days and gave the world a new style of beer – Märzen, now often simply called Oktoberfest. Subsequent wedding anniversary celebrations evolved into Oktoberfest as we know it today, attracting millions to Munich every year. Fortunately, those of us on this side of the Atlantic don’t have to go all the way to Bavaria to observe Oktoberfest, since it is now celebrated in hundreds of cities throughout the U.S.
Southern California, not widely known for its heritage of German culture – though it did have its share of German settlers back in the 19th century – is lucky enough to have many Oktoberfest celebrations. Recently, I was able to attend a preview of what is currently going on at Alpine Village in Torrance. They’ve been celebrating Oktoberfest every year since 1968. Just off Interstate 110 at Torrance Boulevard, Alpine Village is dominated by a large restaurant and beer hall, which is surrounded by a number of shops selling German goods, including imported beers, lederhosen and locally-made sausages. In order to make their Oktoberfest as authentic as possible, they have oompah bands flown in directly from Deutschland, along with Paulaner beer.
Paulaner, which is generously sponsoring Alpine Village’s Oktoberfest, is one of only six Munich breweries that are legally allowed to use the commemorative Oktoberfest name on their beer. A number of Paulaner beers are available on tap, including Hefe-Weizen, Premium Pils, Salvator (Double Bock) and Oktoberfest, of course. In true Bavarian style, Alpine Village serves Paulaner beer in large, one-liter glass mugs and steins.
Alpine Village’s own chef Marko Penich, of Slovenian and German descent, is cooking up heaps of creative German-inspired cuisine. Dishes include glazed smoked pork chops, bier-steamed bratwurst with caramelized onions, pretzel-crusted chicken cordon bleu, potato pierogi with gorgonzola cream sauce, spaetzle ‘n cheese, Oma’s apple strudel and Black Forest cake. And if rich foods and refreshing beers aren’t enough to draw you to Alpine Village, there is live entertainment on Fridays and Saturdays from 6 p.m. to midnight and on Sunday afternoons. German bands play traditional dance music, German comedians such as Helmut Fricker and Heino! are on hand to make you laugh and you can even do the chicken dance and test your strength in stein-holding contests.
Find Oktoberfest celebrations near you with our Top U.S. Oktoberfest celebrations.
Read reviews of our Top 10 Oktoberfest beers.
Interested in going to Munich for the real deal? Check out our Munich Business Travel Guide.
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