We couldn’t make Oktoberfest, a German-esque beer festival – staged in Sefton Park as part of this year’s expanded Liverpool Food and Drink Festival – but we know people who did and the feedback was not good.

The event cost £5 and promised a ‘fine selection of German beers’ and an ‘amazing oompah band’.

But, below, James Mounsey gives a frank take on an event that failed to deliver anything in the way of German efficiency, music or ambience.

Oktoberfest. The word comes loaded with expectations amongst beer drinkers, and news that the Liverpool Food and Drink Festival was to run its own – slap bang in Sefton Park – had got tickets bought early and half days booked off from work in anticipation of serious hangovers to be nursed the next day.

Sadly, from the moment of arrival, expectations soon gave way to stunned incredulity and the problems immediately piled up thick and fast. The great marquee tent and tables gave us the basics, but the bar was nothing but a portable trailer as seen in many a rain-soaked music festival; and so small that it instantly produced queues of enormous length, many people unable to get their first drink for 40 minutes.

Even getting to the bar, eventually, didn’t raise our spirits as the beer selection was an insult to anyone who cares about beer: Light Beer; Dark Beer; Wheat Beer – all at £3.50 a pint and that’s your lot.

No brewery name, no information on its German origin (assuming it was German), no description of the style, nothing. When the Wheat Beer ran out after an hour it had us laughing at the ineptitude of it all.

Of the five of us who arrived, two left in disgust after the first drink, simply unwilling to face the drab beer or the queue again. Even though the bar did ease off later, this seemed largely due to the number of people who’d called it a day and gone home.

When the entertainment arrived to distract us from the ever growing mountain of discarded plastic glasses, the ‘oompah’ band was simply beyond a joke: The Wild Rover, It’s A Long Way To Tipperary, and gobsmackingly, Hitler Has Only Got One Ball.

Attempts to speak to anyone in charge fell on deaf ears, and it quickly became clear that we had all been taken for a ride, cynically manipulated into paying for a German beer festival that the organisers were incapable and unwilling to deliver.

8 Responses to “Black Oktober: Oktoberfest review”

  1. Cattlegrid

    Well said James! What you don’t mention in the review is the food. As we entered the tent, men were still constructing the serving hatch and securing flapping pieces of plastic with drills above the pans of goulash and grilled sausages that, it’s fair to say, were revolting. Plastic bag upon plastic bag of pre-packaged ‘traditional german fayre’ were tipped into large vats at various points throughout the night, with no sense of subtly – really not the authentic Oktoberfest I was looking for. Departing to the tune of ‘Pack up your troubles in your old kit bag’ we reflected that nothing of the evening had been of good taste.

  2. Can’t say I’m especially surprised about the quality of the music – when I went to the Food & Drink Festival on Saturday, they had some god awful female singer in one of tents caterwaling Adele songs. Put me right off my pork belly it did.

    Stuff like this annoys me though – Manchester Food and Drink Festival have been having Oktoberfest’s for a good few years now, and this just appears to have been a rip off of that idea. If we want to beat them at their own game, surely we could done a better job of it?

  3. Does anyone know who organises the wider festival? I’d put complaints to them! I’m also interested in speaking with them to find out what’s involved in supplying them with actual authentic Oktoberfest beers for next time round…

  4. What organisers of these types of events fail to realise is there’s a core of people who are really, really into German culture and are pretty ‘on it’ when it comes to Deutsch food and beer. Just slapping ‘Oktoberfest’ on something and drafting in some wooden benches and beer steins is completely insulting. It’s becoming more and more common, sadly.

  5. Trevor Carr

    I’m another who had a close escape.
    Given the scathing assessments of those friends who did attend I’m glad I turned down the available free ticket for the night

  6. I completely agree, Oktoberfest was a total disaster – we actually waited over an hour for our first beer which was a big disappointment. The organisers should reimburse everyone who braved the rain.

  7. Agree with every comment !

    It was a complete sham! I sat near the entrance and saw dozens of people leave without even bothering to queue for their first drink. I stayed to the end and the queues died down eventually but the type of drinks available was terrible.

    Can it really be so difficult to provide a few hundred people with a few ‘authentic’ german beers and ‘authentic’ food. The only good thing about the event was the pretty woman from the band who danced around everwhere trying to gee up the audience 🙂

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