THE SMELL AND THE FURY

I didn't take this picture, but I wish I had.

Ah, Oktoberfest.  The beer drinker’s favorite time of year.  An excuse to get together with a bunch of other drunks, eat bratwurst, chug swill ’till you pass out, wake up, and do it all again.  For 16 days.  Not too different from a similar celebration in the US that we call “college.”  Oktoberfest is a celebration of German culture that has captured the hearts and minds of the brewing community for some time.  Breweries now produce Oktoberfest-style beers, some of which are actually just well-marketed versions of well established beer types such as marzens (see Adams, Sam).  The Oktoberfest festival usually gets a good amount of press, as it’s a generally debaucherous and fun time: it opens with a 12 gun salute, and is attended by crowds numbering in the millions (around 6.5 million, according to some sources).  Those patrons drink somewhere in the neighborhood of 1.5 million gallons of beer (but of course, 67% of all statistics are made up, so who really knows anyway…).

This large of  a festival brings with it all sorts of other issues, not the least of which is the, well let’s just go with “odors” of that many people.  Smoking is a lot more tolerated in Europe than it is in the US, and Oktoberfest has usually been a smoky, beer-filled party.  But no more:  this year, the 200th Oktoberfest, smoking has been banned from the festival.  This is good news to those of us who can’t stand the smell of cigarettes, but it also raises another question:  what about all the other smells that the cigarette smoke covered up? Der Spiegel has a fascinating but short article about how the organizers are combating the odor of stale beer and other things.  Commentary from one of the festival’s organizers illustrates the problem (‘the smell has gotten very bad’ … thanks for that insight.).  More interesting is the solution:  workers who clean up after partygoers are using a solution of bacteria that will hopefully eat the offending odors, leaving behind only the smell of soil.  Not too shabby if they can get it to work!  If this pans out, I could imagine a few other places that might need to have the smell of stale beer removed…

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4 comments

  1. Just wait until the cleaning bacteria mutates and decides to eat the beer-drinkers along with the beer residue! I know for a fact that Mashtun Copperpot is made up of at least 97% stale beer (and I’m pretty sure the other 3% is “offending odors”).

  2. I heard he used to have hair once.

  3. That was just a rumor.

    And as of 10:00 tonight, my blood is made up of at least 2-3% of fresh beer.

  4. […] Professor put up a brief, yet informative account of the Oktoberfest celebrations and the Marzen style the other day that should be clicked […]

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