Wurstfest 2012

19 Feb

Few things go together as well as beer and festivals, especially festivals built around food. This past weekend was a prime example of how great the pairing can be. In honor of our recent birthdays, the wife, our friend Ben, and I were able to take a day off from work and head out to Mt. Angel, OR, for their 4th Annual Wurstfest: A Celebration of German Sausage.

The festival itself was held in the Mt. Angel “Festhalle” along Highway 214, and the space was filled with different booths selling food, clothing, and other assorted crafts. A lineup of rotating bands like the Oompah Boys (three older gentlemen, playing nothing upbeat…but they were fun to listen to) and the Greg Meier Bavarian Quartet (minus their fourth…he was skiing in Whistler) provided traditional Bavarian music for all to enjoy. Now since we were there on a Friday…at 11:00 AM…it’s safe to say we were the youngest people in the building. This was definitely the “older” crowd, but one that still knew how to drink a beer, eat a brat, and do a little dancing before heading back on the nursing home bus. I think it is safe to say we were the loudest and most obnoxious group in the place, but everyone was extremely friendly and gracious as we acted like we were actually in Germany at a real beer hall. Thanks for putting up with us old people!

If you’ve never been to Mt. Angel, it is quite the experience. The small community was settled by German pioneers in the 1800s and might remind one of the Bavarian countryside. Either way, the people of Mt. Angel have decided to go “all in” and have really made an effort to incorporate the Bavarian-look and feel into their small town. Public buildings and local businesses have made the effort to play up this heritage. It should come as no suprise then that Mt. Angel is the location of the largest and oldest Oktoberfest in Oregon. The celebration began in 1966 as a traditional harvest festival to “celebrate the bounty of the earth and the goodness of creation”, and is now Oregon’s largest folk festival. I attend several years ago and it was a good time, although a bit expensive to have a beer or three. That said, everyone should try and attend at some point. Nothing like a good outdoor festival, replete with funnel cakes, bratwursts, and cold beer. Wurstfest is obviously much newer (4th Annual), but also a little more relaxed than the gigantic Oktoberfest that I attended. Being inside, out of the elements, with plenty to eat and drink nearby was a nice change from the crowds in the Fall. What was it that they had to drink, you ask? Well, let’s talk about that.

The Wurstfest was supported by Warsteiner Brewing, with three of their beers on tap: the Warsteiner Pilsner and Dunkel, and the Konig Weissenbier. Additionally, Seven Bride’s from Silverton, OR, had their Lil’s Pils and Maggie’s Marzen on tap. I did my fair share of drinking all of these beers, and was not unhappy with any of them. The Warsteiner lineup was what you would expect from the styles. Clean and crisp pilsner, banana/clovey weissenbier, and spicy/wheaty dunkel. They all went well with my spicy wurst, german potato salad and kraut from the Urban German cart, and a pretzel from the local St. Nicholas Bakery. Later, the Maggie’s Marzen washed down an apple-cheese wurst with kraut and Sister’s mustard from the Glockenspiel.

We left with a couple of really nice .50 Liter steins (Did I mention that you got a free Warsteiner Stein with your paid admission? Pretty good deal for $10, if you ask me.), a couple of bottles of local wine (sparkling Reisling, Muscat), some toffee, and a loaf of poppyseed bread. All-in-all a good haul and a lot of fun on our day off. Unlike the Oktoberfest, I could see myself attending this yearly. Except next year I expect Mike and Miranda to join in the fun. Kudos to Mt. Angel and Wurstfest 2012!

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