By Nadia Hall and Brigitta Wohlmuth
In the heart of Dockyard there is a cozy tavern called The Frog and Onion, a fantastic pub-style restaurant that is also home to Bermuda’s only microbrewery, The Dockyard Brewing Co. Together, they wish you a warm “Willkommen” to their 4th Annual Oktoberfest, a hugely popular event that unites masses of beer lovers in drunken merriment.
The Festival will take place over the weekend from October 8-12, starting daily at 7:00pm, held outside in the Victualing Yard. You can expect live music from the Oompah Brass Band, ladies and gents dressed in “Dirndl und Lederhosen”, and of course plenty of bratwurst along with other traditional dishes.
“Every year it’s rammed, there’s always a massive turnout” says the Chef, Derek Myers. “Last year we went through 400lb of sausages, 400lb of chicken, 1,400 pretzels, and 200lbs of potatoes”
Myers is originally from Canada but his roots trace back to Germany and the menu for the weekend is based on “food that he grew up on” as a child. Festival- goers will enjoy the typical ‘Deutsche’ specialties such as Schnitzel, Sauerkraut, and Apfelstrudel – to name a few.
If you wish to experience the full menu while seated comfortably you might be interested in booking a table. Just don’t hesitate to make your reservation as seats are already going quickly. Otherwise the festival is free to attend, so it would be “wunderbar” if you dropped by.
“The thing with German potato salad is that every area has their own,” Chef Derek explains. It’s a variation on the same theme, the versions varying only slightly, distinguished by the little differences: more or less vinegar, some have bacon, some parsley, and some are served hot, while others are cold. It’s regionally specific and Chef Derek has opted to serve it warm for his Volkfest. It’s comfort food at its finest. “This is more what I grew up on,” Chef Derek says, remembering a grandfather would make his own sausage. For Bermuda’s Oktoberfest they’ve sourced a German sausage maker in New York. The platter will feature three different types of wurst: a Knackwurst, Bauernwurst and traditional smoked Bratwurst, for what it’s worth.
A traditional strudel follows the same flexible family formula – this uses puff pastry with a filling of raisins, apple and almonds and a light Crème Anglaise – and Chef Derek opts for chicken in his schnitzel instead of the controversial veal. It’s full of flavour, seasoned perfectly with a side of classic spaetzle, little “fried dumplings” that resemble pasta.
While the venue is very spacious, with multiple rooms with their own nooks and crannies, each year they build a special custom wooden 6-tap bar to accommodate the demand.
Brewmaster Jim Mclennan will usually create his own Oktoberfest Brew, but this year will see a special Bermuda Tattoo Brew to commemorate the Bermuda Regiment’s 50th anniversary. “It will be in the style of a saison,” he says. A saison, we learned, is a pale ale, highly carbonated with a fruity, spicy character.
This year will see the return of the hugely popular Oompah Brass Band. Formed by some of the UK’s most versatile brass players, Oompah Brass started out with the firm intention of becoming a traditional German oompah band. However, they quickly realised that novel arrangements of pop tunes carried more appeal than the waltzes, polkas and marches more commonly associated with the genre. They’ve since been described by radio and television personality, Chris Evans, as ‘legends in Lederhosen.’ Winners of the 2012 Haizetara International Street Band Competition, Oompah Brass are now a multiple award-winning, critically-acclaimed brass ensemble and are the world’s leading exponents of ‘Oom-pop’ – Bavarian-style re-workings of songs such as Guns ‘n Roses’ ‘Paradise City’, Britney Spears’ ‘Toxic’, and Queen’s ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’. In the regular line-up of two trumpets, horn, trombone and tuba, the five pioneers have performed in iconic venues across Europe such as the Montreux Palace Hotel in Switzerland, the Hammersmith Apollo, and the brand new Olympic Stadium in London.