A taste of Munich | SummitDaily.com

A taste of Munich

BRYCE EVANS
summit daily news

With Oompa music and Bavarian dancers swirling around the Riverwalk, it may be a bit confusing to remember that you’re in Breckenridge, especially after a couple refills of your stein.

It’s not October, and we’re about 5,000 miles from Munich, but when the first keg is tapped Saturday at 11 a.m. in Breck, the Tenmile Range will feel more like the Bavarian Mountains, as Main Street will be filled with lederhosen, vendors and plenty of food ending in “itzel.”

And, of course, there’ll be plenty of beer (or “bier,” if we’re going to be authentic about it).

This is the Breckenridge Oktoberfest, the 16th annual edition of the genuine German celebration.

Breck’s rendition of the classic European event runs over three days, starting Friday with the Brewmaster’s Dinner at the Salt Creek Steakhouse. Then the town party kicks off the next morning and continues through Sunday.

The town shuts down Main Street from Ski Hill Road to Jefferson Avenue for the festivities (11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday). In past years, more than 30,000 people have attended over the course of two days, making Breck’s the largest Oktoberfest celebration in the Rockies.

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There are a select number of tickets still available for Friday’s event, which is a six-course gourmet German meal, complete with European beer and wine selections.

But on Saturday and Sunday, attendance is free, and beer tickets are a scant $5. To get more beer for your buck, purchasing an official, German-made Breck Oktoberfest stein is the best deal. The steins come in half-liter and full-liter sizes. The smaller costs $25 and comes with two beer tickets, while the larger is $30 with the pair of tickets.

And for beer, Breck certainly has something to offer that no other festival in Colorado will have: Paulaner’s Wiesn brew. This blonde version of the company’s popular Marzen Amber was made in celebration of Munich Oktoberfest’s 200th anniversary this year. The Munich-based brewery shipped the beer stateside as part of the festivities, and Breck has the only festival in the state that will serve it.

“We’re really excited about it,” said Rachel Zerowin, the public relations and marketing manager for the Breckenridge Resort Chamber, which is putting on the event. “It’s the first time it’ll be available in the U.S., and we feel lucky that Breck’s the only one in Colorado to offer this beer.

“You can come out and get a taste of Germany right here in Breckenridge.”

For more information on the beer, visit http://www.paulaner.com (and make sure to have your German-to-English translation guide handy – the site is mostly in German).

Paulaner and Breckenridge Brewery will be the only breweries highlighted at the festival, and Toasted Head out of California will provide its barrel-aged wine.

The food will include an array of traditional European fair – from sausages to pretzels – as well as what’s become traditional American street food from more than two dozen vendors.

There will be live music both days at the Riverwalk, and some kid’s activities are planned for Sunday.

All activities are intended to enhance the authenticity of the Munich-originated event.

It’s been 200 years since the festival was started by Crown Prince Ludwig and Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildurghhausen, and although today’s celebration is a far cry from the royal pair’s initial marriage commemoration party (kicked off by horse races on Oct. 17, 1810; hence the “Oktoberfest” name), it’s still an integral part of Bavarian culture.

But don’t worry if you don’t know the difference between Schweinsbraten and Brezn. Fill up your stein, sample some schnitzel and enjoy the festival, because, as the saying goes, “Munchen mag Dich” (Munich likes you).