Oktoberfest is the world’s largest Volksfest (beer festival and traveling funfair). Held annually in Munich, Bavaria, Germany, it is a 16- to 18-day folk festival running from mid or late September to the first Sunday in October, with more than six million people from around the world attending the event every year (Erasmus Student Network, 2018). Brühaüs – is a two-day festival celebrating all things Oktoberfest. Featuring German-inspired eats, big beers, music, attire, sights & sounds (Craft Beer Market, 2019).
Our team has never experienced Oktoberfest in Germany but we thought that Vancouver Oktoberfest shouldn’t be any worse. We got lucky and found Brühaüs – Oktoberfest Inspired Celebration that didn’t require us to pay an entrance fee, unlike other Oktoberfest events in the city. It was almost sold out at the time we were registering and the disclaimer was very straight and up-to-point: DON’T BE LATE or you won’t get your seats. We registered and sent our RSVPs 2 weeks in advance and came 30 minutes earlier to get inside. To our disappointment and relief at the same time, there were not many people standing in line. In fact, there was no line at all. We expected a huge crowd wearing national German outfits, being excited to get drunk. But this is how it was:
Probably because we came on Sunday, Oct 6th, at 2 pm and not many people start drinking that early. By the way, the event took place at Craft Beer Market located at 85 W 1st Ave, just near Main Street- Science World Station. We walked in and the hostess immediately took us inside.
The theme was the Oktoberfest festival. The festival celebrated the marriage of the crown prince of Bavaria, who later became King Louis I, and the Princess Therese von Sachsen-Hildburghausen on October 12, 1810. (Tikkanen, N.d). Nonetheless, Craft Beer celebrated Oktoberfest during the first weekend of October.
Décor. The decoration was quite simple and boring because only a quarter of the place was adorned with Oktoberfest’s theme. However, the décor looked more like a Harry Potter theme with all those hats on each table than an Oktoberfest festival.
It is important to highlight that only two employees, those in charge of the decorated area, had their respective attire according to the theme, while the rest was wearing a black uniform. We scored the ornamentation for 2 out of 5.
Atmosphere. It is important to emphasize that we arrived at the place very early, therefore, the atmosphere was quite calm and only a few people were celebrating the event at that time. Nonetheless, Craft Beer hired a singer, which I didn’t think was consistent with the theme of the event. The singer only played pop songs in English, instead of German folk music. Also, we were expecting something different because the website of the bar stated that Craft Beer was going to have a band playing live as part of the festival.
Nonetheless, there was a game in a section of the bar, which consisted of grabbing an axe and throwing it against a wooden wall to hit the x in the middle of the circle. The activity was part of the Axewood company, therefore, anyone interested in playing this game had to pay 10$ dollars for 1 round. It seemed fair to us that you had to pay to play the game because the entrance to the event was free. However, we thought it can become dangerous because mixing alcohol with this type of activity can end in a tragedy. Thus, we scored the atmosphere for 3 of 5.
Food. It appeared that Craft Beer Market provided 2 separate menus on that day: the main menu and the one dedicated to the Oktoberfest event. We were more interested in Oktoberfest items but the menu did not have many choices. We decided to go with Grilled Bratwursts for starters that cost $15.50. Bratwurst is a type of German sausage made from veal, beef, or most commonly pork (Shilcutt, 2019). It was served with whole grain beef mustard and house-pickled cabbage. Honestly, the sausage was not enough to share it with four people but for two it would have been a good value. It tasted good but nothing special, just you average sausage that was put on the grill. We all hardly tried pickled cabbage as it too sour and had a very specific smell. I guess it was too authentic for us. We would give this dish 3.5 out of 5.
Of course, the main reason we came to Oktoberfest is to try a famous German beer. We ordered Erdinger Weissbier Dark Beer with 5.5% of alcohol. The beer had a wheat aroma and as any full-bodied beer – strong taste. It also had some hints of fruit and clove and champagne-like texture. It was served in a 0.5 glass and cost $9.50. We liked the beer and decided to give it a 5 out of 5 scores.
As it was mentioned sausage was not enough for 4 people and we were just at the right time to order from a happy hour menu. So, Miri ordered Cubano Street Tacos ($11), Rahul had Nashville Hot Cauliflower ($7), Rishu ordered Hand-cut Fries ($4) and Veronica went with Classic Burger ($13).
Cubano Street Tacos were served at a red napkin in a metal plate, reminding a baking sheet. The representation was not as delightful with all those grease stains as you can see below. Tacos were served on a corn tortilla with pulled pork, house pickles, fried onions, and mustard & citrus mojo sauce. The menu also mentioned swiss cheese but we couldn’t find it. The first bite was very fresh and had a sour aftertaste. But on the third tortilla, the taste became too strong and citrusy. The tacos were very small and we thought that the item didn’t have a good value for $11. We gave it 3.5 out of 5.
Nashville Hot Cauliflower was the best item we ordered. For only $7 we got a handful of cauliflower bites with spicy cayenne glaze, lime avocado cream, and cilantro on top. It was served in a black narrow bowl that provided a nice contrast to the bright orange cauliflower. We liked the crunchy texture of the batter and very soft cauliflower. The batter itself was moderately spicy with hints of cayenne pepper and cumin. It was perfectly salted and had a nice aftertaste. We scored the item for 5 out of 5.
Hand-cut Fries was another surprisingly good item on the menu. It was served with ketchup on the side in a black bowl. French Fries were evenly salted, very crispy and tasted fresh out of the fryer. They had a well-rounded flavor with a moderate amount of black pepper without distracting, artificial or fishy smells. They also presented a good mouthfeel: not overcooked or undercooked, exactly how you like them. Our team gave it well-deserved 5 out 5.
Classic Burger cost $13 during happy hour and we thought that its value is not high for an average customer. It was a nice big burger served with fries and ketchup on the metal baking sheet-plate. Although it had 2 beef patties, they were relatively thin. The buns were well-toasted, tomato and onions were fresh. Burger had a good mouthfeel and we liked CRAFT signature burger sauce. However, it was just a burger and you could get the same burger in any more or less good restaurant. It didn’t disappoint us nor did it amuse us. We had a difficult decision of granting 4 out of 5 to this burger.
Overall, CRAFT Beer Market did well in interpreting modern trends in its food and beverages. We have tried internationally recognized and trendy foods such as tacos and spicy cauliflower bites. The promotion of Oktoberfest itself is also a good sign of integrating big cultural events into the food business. We also noticed unusual variations of beer with fruits and beer in cocktails. The only thing that we consider lacking was vegetarian food. In Oktoberfest menu almost all the items contained meat or dairy products, so that one of our team members couldn’t really eat anything except for fries or pickled cabbage served on the side. There were appetizers and main dishes such as vegetable flatbreads or Beyond Burger but they still were very limited. It was a little disappointing, although, we believe that it is just a start and in the future, we might be able to see a separate vegetarian menu
Cleanliness. From our point of view, the cleanliness aspect comes in the mind of customers from the entrance of the restaurant. We observed that the outside area was clean. The area nearby the hostess table was also there was no dust in the corners. The chairs and tables were placed accurately and also were clean. The menu was also nice and tidy, without any stains. Overall, the sitting area was well maintained with proper lightning.
The restrooms were critical to us. We would give 9 out of 10 for the cleanliness of the Craft Beer Market. The bathrooms were neat and tidy and had a nice smell. Toilets were clean as well as trash boxes and the mirrors. Toilet paper and hand soap containers were full. So these were the major things that we observed and noticed beyond cleanliness.
However, for the service of the restaurant, we would give 7/10. In the beginning, our waiter forgot we asked him for water and he came to us after 15-20 minutes. We had to ask again, which was a little disappointing since the restaurant wasn’t busy at all. After the special platter, we all ordered individual dishes according to our taste. Miri ordered Cubano Street Tacos without onions but the waiter brought her the wrong order with onions. The service was not satisfactory and we waited for about 40 minutes for our food, although the beer was brought rather quickly. There was no closing door for the kitchen and the noisy sound was coming all the time, which was distracting.
Sustainability. The environmental and economic sustainability go hand to hand: from composition and recycling to sustainable design and green building. Craft Beer Market pursues a variety of earth-friendly initiatives as part of its sustainability program. What’s good for the planet it’s good for their business.
Waste management. Every year Craft Beer Market’s composition and recycling program diverts thousands of kilograms of garbage from the landfill. They use biodegradable to-go containers, napkins and other paper products.
LEAF-certified. Largest level 2 LEAF (Leader in Environmentally Accountable Foodservice)-certified restaurant in Canada. It measures restaurant sustainability.
LEED-certified. This program measures building design and construction for waste reduction, water, and energy conservation and overall green innovation.
Ocean wise. The restaurant supports the health of oceans by serving ocean wise seafood. This certificate assures the guests that they are making sustainable seafood choices.
Going Green. From kitchen to tabletops, the restaurant’s management chooses greener products for their dishes. Many of their plates are manufactured using 70% lower emission compared to other brands.
Q WATER. This system supplies still and sparkling water in reusable glass bottles, eliminates regular deliveries, disposal, and packaging while conserving energy. $1 from every bottle sold goes to charity.
Dress Code. The approach to sustainability extends to staff dress code, which includes clothes from companies that share the same ideals. For eg. Levi’s waterless technology jeans are manufactured using a process that saves tens of thousands of gallons of water each year, Toms shoes – for every pair purchased, one pair is donated to a child in need.
Choosing Local. Craft Beer Market’s “Fresh Local Food” philosophy supports producers and providers in the communities where CRAFT is located. They provide fresher ingredients, but they also decrease their carbon footprint and provide support from small, independent local businesses.
Conclusion. Overall, our dining experience was delightful although the Bruhaus Event didn’t live up to the hype. We enjoyed most of the food but there was not too much entertainment that you would expect to see at Oktoberfest. We got excited seeing an ax-throwing corner but we’d have to pay $10 to try. Service was a bit slow and our waiter seemed confused seeing us “celebrating” Oktoberfest at 2 pm. The place itself was clean but empty, so for us, it is still a question: why would Craft Beer Market urge their customers to come early and book tickets in advance when there is obviously no need to do that? We suppose it was done to “hype up” the event but the attempt was not as successful.
CRAFT Brühaüs // Oktoberfest Party. (n.d.). Retrieved October 29, 2019, from https://www.whatsbrewing.ca/event/craft-bruhaus-oktoberfest-party-2/.
Oktoberfest. (2018, September 18). Retrieved October 29, 2019, from https://www.esn-wageningen.nl/events/oktoberfest.
Shilcutt, K. (2019, January 17). Here, Eat This: A Beginner’s Guide to German Cuisine. Retrieved October 29, 2019, from https://www.houstonpress.com/restaurants/here-eat-this-a-beginners-guide-to-german-cuisine-6420858.
Tikkanen, Amy. (N.d) Oktoberfest German Festival. Retrieved October 28, 2019, from https://www.britannica.com/topic/Oktoberfest