Feats of strength. Five gallons of sauerkraut. And a bubbling cauldron of Limburger. All of it made this past weekend’s second-ever “Over the Top Oktoberfest,” a brutal orgy of salt, yeast and ale that lived up to its name. For one night, Eagle Rock Brewery’s tank room was totally transformed into a sweaty Bavarian beer hall. Below are our beer-stained field notes and scorecards from the front lines. First, a toast to end Oktoberfest!
Here’s to the girls of the American shore,
I love but one, I love no more,
Since she’s not here to drink her part,
I’ll drink her share with all my heart.
Words of wisdom from our friends at Pacific Stacks, an e-books publisher that just released “The Toaster’s Handbook: Quotations & Rhymes For Spirited Occasions” as part of the Over The Top Oktoberfest trilogy, which includes prohibition prose fromn 1918, and authentic brewing instructions from the 18th century. Peep it here as a FREE download on your iPads, Kindle or Kraut-tablet.
For our part, Hot Knives was serving up German Nachos. What’s that? We chunked up several limestone-colored stink bars of Limburger cheese. We threw it in a slow cooker on high heat and let it melt into a thick gooey dairy paint. The room smelled like hot feet. Baskets of corn chips got a heavy Silly String-sized dose of the cheese, followed by a flick of sliced scallions, super hot chilies, sweet red bell peppers, and a slurry of Purple Dijonaise (secret ingredient: wine must mustard).
On to the real gross-out of the night! The Sauerkraut eating contest (not a traditional German thing, but it should be.) Alex weighed out 2 pounds of kraut on a plate for each competitor. Evan competed with 7 other idiots in eating as much pickled cabbage as possible in 5 minutes. What’s that like? Salty, cold and stringy. Somewhere between eating a bad meal and being waterboarded, because the real danger is not retching, it’s choking! In the last 60 seconds, beer blogger Dave Stickel nosed ahead by picking up his cabbage pile, squeezing the lactic-juice out of it, and gnawing on it like a hamburger. He won with more than a pound of kraut ingested.
And then there was the main event. The first-ever Unity Cup, an arm wrestling invitational pitting the best local brewers against one another. In between toasts, jeers and cheers, we watched friends and colleagues become foes. Taunting ensued. Here’s how it went down play by play. The first match of the night was an internal power struggle, and it only got uglier from there…
Jeremy Raub (Eagle Rock Brewery) sat across from fellow brewer Erick Garcia (ERB) who took Jeremy down. Next, Bob Kunz (Highland Park Brewery) lost to Simmons Borchert (Bruery) which sent Erick head to head with Simmons, who made it to the semi-finals. Devon Randall (Pizza Port) took on Ting Su (ERB) and was taken down, sending Ting to the next round. There Ting took on Cambria Griffith (Bruery) and dispatched with her as well, going on to the women’s semi-finals. Next up, Lee Bakofsky (ERB) going by the name of “Murder Face” took on Cole Hackbarth (Golden Road) and slayed him to also reach the semi-finals.
Dieter Foerstner (Angel City) went head to head with Steve Raub (ERB) in the first declared tie of the night. After reaching a hard-to-watch standstill the two took a breather and returned to the table for a nail-biter. Steve walked away victorious. When two late additions showed up, Tim Harbage (Golden Road) was pitted against Nate “The Islander” Soroko (Modern Times Brewing/Toronado) and it was a 3-second match. In “Murder Face” vs. “The Islander,” the latter was victorious. We had our mens finalists.
Back in the women’s competition, Cyrena Nouzille (Ladyface) took on Jessica Davis (Bruery), and they stalemated not once but twice. In the re-match, the judges were forced to call it off after a 3-minute standoff. With no semi-final winner, we reluctantly declared a 3-way tie.
The last match of the night was Eagle Rock Brewery’s Steve Raub vs. “The Islander.” In the end, the home court advantage was not enough. Ding, ding, ding. We had our winner. Anyone who doubts the strength of the LA beer scene missed one helluva night. With biceps begging for oxygen, and our kidneys shutting down from the salt intake, we called it a night. And our slow cooker is still soaking. See you next October!
He who goes to bed, and goes to bed sober,
Falls as the leaves do, and dies in October;
But he who goes to bed, and does so mellow,
Lives as he ought to, and dies a good fellow.