Oktoberfest: Beer, friends … more beer Beer, friends … more beer
BRECKENRIDGE – Dennis Keller is the most important person at Breckenridge’s Oktoberfest: He brings the beer.To be fair, the Breckenridge Brewery also supplies suds for the weekend festival, which shuts down Main Street. But Keller’s Paulaner Bier is one of the few brewers in the world that can, with all integrity, produce authentic Oktoberfest beer. “There’s a lot of standards (beer) has to meet to be called Oktoberfest beer,” said Keller, the Southwest manager of Star Brand Imports, which carries Paulaner.Among those requirements, Keller said, is for a brewery to be within the city limits of Munich, home of the original Oktoberfest. Paulaner is one of only six breweries that makes the initial cut. Other specifics include limiting the beer’s ingredients to barley, hops, yeast and water. “Since they age it for three or four months,” he said, “it makes it a very easy (beer) to consume.”But, Keller said, Oktoberfest isn’t just an excuse to get Belushi-drunk.The liquid bread is only the “social lubricant” of the festival, he said. Keller believes Oktoberfest is about camaraderie: Sitting at a long table and getting to know strangers. The beer helps get conversations, and inevitable sing-alongs, going.”If you don’t make friends with a stranger at Oktoberfest,” he said, “you’re not doing it right.” In addition to providing the celebrated beverage, Keller is charged with setting the scene “so that it’s conducive to having a good time.” This includes coordinating decorations, merchandise and playing host at tonight’s Brewmaster’s Dinner. Tickets to the dinner are $55 per person or $100 for a couple. Beer tickets at the celebration are $4 each for a half-liter.
Keller and Paulaner have become mountain favorite’s on the Oktoberfest circuit. The two appear at close to a dozen festivals in the area, including those in Telluride, Beaver Creek and Woodland Park.”There’s a lot of things that Breckenridge brings to the table,” he said. “The vast majority of attendees are not driving, and that frees them up as far as their consumption.”Maybe that’s why, as Lloyd Christmas said in “Dumb and Dumber,” the “beer flows like wine” at Breckenridge’s festival.”It would be safe to say that the amount of beer poured at Breckenridge per hour exceeds that of any Oktoberfest in the area,” Keller said.Estimates put last year’s consumption above 28,000 pints for the festival’s 15,000 guests. No word on how many brats were downed. For those less inclined to spend Saturday and Sunday with a brewski, Breckenridge’s Oktoberfest Celebration also includes a 5K trail run on Saturday, as well as Team Summit’s Ski Swap.Polka hall of famer Polka Joe Hanak and beermeister Roy Kaye will be in attendance leading the audience to the music of Those Austrian Guys. Keller will be on hand to replace dry kegs.”You are 100 percent assured,” Keller said of Paulaner, “that you are getting a product that was brewed at the original brewery to the specific standards.”There’s something worth lifting a glass to.Chris Kornelis can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 216, or at email@example.com.
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