Monterrey, Mexico. Oktoberfest.

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Oktoberfest at Parque Fundidora, Monterrey, Mexico

What the Oktoberfest in Monterrey, Nuevo Leon lacked in bratwurst, brötchen and sauerkraut it made up for with live faux punk, a mechanical bull, a ferris wheel that goes backwards and individual beer pong sponsored by Telcel. And an astonishing number of porta potties. Always a good investment at brew festivals.

Although I generally don’t think one-time attendance qualifies anyone as an expert on anything, I offer anyone interested in next year’s Oktoberfest this cautionary tale. It’s not very German and you might have to take the famously overcrowded Metro to get there.

Most festivals and fairs seem to fall prey to their own growth if they start to make enough money. This often leads to diminishing marginal returns for the attendees. Monterrey Oktoberfest is no exception. While the energy was good with lots of smiling people and virtually no debauchery, there wasn’t any German food or music. They did have a few pretty girls in dirndls, (modest ones too! Not the slutty Halloween costumes shrunken down to lingerie) but only a small variety of German beer in addition to the the Indio, Tecate and Heineken. They had three music stages, some outdoor salsa dancing and a photobooth for “German weddings” — I don’t know what that was about but participants seemed to be given some kind of certificate under a makeshift arbor with an “abbot” “officiating”.

I don’t have fond memories of the mosh pit that is the Hofbräuhaus in Munich — absolutely not worth the wait, the cost or the physical challenge of finding seating. But even if they’re the McMenamins (Pacific Northwest reference!) of German brewpubs it was sort of nice to see their beer represented in Mexico. I went with a märzen from the booth next to them because I’d never heard of it and the toasted amber description sounded like something I might enjoy even if it was a lager and I knew it would be too light for my taste. It wasn’t bad. But I wouldn’t pay $6 for 12 oz again.

We knew parking was going to be a challenge so we braved the crowds, took the Metro and endured the erotic embrace of hundreds of sweating strangers. A love story every day. In 3D. But knowing it would be worse on our way home we decided to head out after a couple of hours.

So come September next year, check out their facebook event page and see if you know and love any of the bands playing. There’s a lot of outdoor seating and only about a 50% chance of rain that time of year. Buf if you don’t have a specific reason for going and are wanting to experience or explore German beer or cuisine I’d recommend skipping Ish-toberbest, buying German beer at HEB and enjoying it at home with some brats and kraut. Or just enjoy some craft beer made right here in Mexico as it gains popularity all over the world.

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