In recent years, I’ve attended two kinds of Oktoberfest events in Manila — the outdoor rock concerts including Muziklaban that San Miguel Brewery promoted, and the traditional celebrations reenacted in hotels which the German Club in the Philippines supported.
One Muziklaban edition, held in an open lot across the old Manila Film Center, was rained out. I was drenched all night, my feet soaked in water and mud, and my only consolation was the buzz from SMB Pale Pilsen as Slapshock and other new metal bands cranked the music up high.
In 2016, an Oktoberfest event at Draft Restaurant & Brewery in Greenbelt gave me the opportunity to taste a German beer brand, Paulaner. It was so tasty, I had two mugs in quick succession.
In 2017, three hotels — Sofitel Philippine Plaza, City of Dreams Manila and Solaire Resort & Casino — celebrated Oktoberfest simultaneously.
Somehow, I managed to attend all of them by imposing a time limit on my stay at each venue, where the atmosphere became raucous as the night wore on.
All three hotels’ efforts to capture the spirit of the early Oktoberfests in the 1800s in Munich, Germany, were successful. Guests, which included Manila’s expat community especially Germans, partook of a variety of sausages and other meats. German bands performed festive music. And, of course, beer of different brands flowed.
The one I liked most was Weihenstephaner, whose brewery in Weihenstephan Abbey in Bavaria, Germany, is said to be the oldest working brewery in the world.
But the best thing about Oktoberfest in Manila, BC (Before Covid), was the presence of Philippine craft beers at City of Dreams. Though more expensive, the local craft beers widened Filipinos’ taste for a drink that anyone can make, even at home.