One of my travel dreams is to explore the castles, towns, and traditions of Germany and Austria and to attend Oktoberfest in Munich. Well, Munich and Austria are not happening in my very near future, so I jumped at the chance to live out a bit of my Bavarian background (my maiden name is Eisentrout – can’t get much more German than that) by attending Bier Fest at Busch Gardens Williamsburg.
Bier Fest is a festival-like atmosphere that takes place in the park’s Germany and Oktoberfest villages. In addition to the event’s namesake (bier/beer), you can expect to find food, music, live bands, and German cordial and schnaps tastings. Lederhosen and dirndls make the event even more fun and authentic.
Beer, Wine, and Schnaps
Choose from more than 75 draft and bottled beers, including German, craft, firkins, and local Virginia beers (or bier, if you’re being authentic with the German). Guests have the option of purchasing a Bier Fest Sampler package that includes 10 individual 3 oz. samples. Don’t fret if you can’t drink that much. The Bier Fest Sampler can be used on all four days of the Bier Fest event.
To make it even easier to choose and order, the beer selections are divided up into separate queue areas by the type of taste:
German and Oktoberfest Biers
- Beck’s Spaten Lager
- Center of the Universe Oktoberfest
- Franziskaner Weissbier
- Spaten Optimator
Crisp & Fruity Biers
- Bold Rock Pear Cider
- New Belgium Long Table Farmhouse Ale
- Shock Top Pumpkin Wheat
- Rolling Rock Extra Pale
Bold & Roasty Biers
- Alewerks Washington’s Porter
- Highland Oatmeal Porter
- Starr Hill Dark Starr Stout
- chocolate Peanut Butter Porter
- Goose Island IPA
- O’Connor Great Dismal Black IPA
- Southern Tier IPA
- Lagunitas IPA
- Williamsburg Alewerks Cask Ale
- Center of the Universe Cask Ale
- Legend Cask Ale
- St. George Cask Ale
The park is also offering German cordial and schnaps tastings. Schnaps is similar to gin and is brewed from apples, cherries, plums, apricots, or pears. German, French, and Italian wine tastings are available all season long.
As always, guests must be 21 years of age in order to purchase and consume alcohol. Proof of age is required. Wristbands are available so that you don’t have to constantly pull out I.D.
Das Festhaus serves its regular menu items, but you can expand your palate and try some traditional German items such as jagerschnitzel, German meatballs, toasted nuts, and the always popular hand-made pretzels. Can’t slow down? Grab a pretzel nugget necklace.
- Jagerschnitzel – Hand-breaded pork schnitzel in a creamy mushroom and bacon sauce served on a skewer
- Koenigsberger Kloepse – German meatballs in a caper cream sauce served on a skewer
- Bratwurst Sandwich – Grilled sausage simmered in beer on a wheat roll with cranberry and rosemary mustard, Swiss cheese and sauerkraut
- Mustard-Glazed Pork Shank – Smoked pork shank smothered with beer and caraway mustard
- Roasted Turkey Legs
- Frosted Nuts – Cashews or pecans
The Happy Dutchmen oompah band, country music group Harley Boone, and guitarist Kevin MaC provided special music throughout the event. I was able to catch a performance of the Harley Boone band. They performed in Das Festhaus and were quite good. They sang “Pontoon” and “Done” as well as some other popular country tunes. I only have one complaint and that is that it was so loud I could barely tell what they were singing. Maybe that was just me. Otherwise, I really enjoyed the show and their sound.
Enjoy songs like “Edelweiss,” “Ein Prosit” and other traditional German oompah songs. Also, I had no idea that the Chicken Dance was a German thing. I guess you learn something new every day.
Souvenir stands and shops selling Busch Gardens and Bier Fest merchandise are located throughout the area. Steins, t-shirts, keychains, lederhosen, and German hats are available for purchase. I’m particularly partial to this cute little gnome.
Bier Fest took place on September 12-13 and September 19-2, 2015. I hope it becomes a regular event at the park. It was a fun and friendly atmosphere, and I enjoyed the colorful flags, banners, and other decorations. The only suggestion I would make is to have even more traditional German food and dessert offerings. Also, I would love to see and hear the Laendler (Can you tell I’m a “Sound of Music” fan?).
I have to end with this, even though it’s not technically German. These amazing looking desserts are from Josephine’s in the France village.
Prost! That would be cheers.