Oktoberfest alla Turca
Now that it has become a dream to go to Munich to attend the Oktoberfest with the current exchange rates, we headed instead for Sisli to satisfy our longing. The Oktoberfest, organized for the sixth time in Turkey, was once again held at the former Bomonti brewery.
The Oktoberfest, as is well known, is one of the most famous festivals in the world. It is especially famous for the images of the waitresses dressed in their drindls carrying fifteen to twenty one-liter beer mugs. And, with the popular series recently aired on Netflix: Oktoberfest: Beer and Blood.
The festival in Sisli can't go much further than a wannabe. Pretentious acts like the barrel tapping ceremony is an attempt to give the festival its true atmosphere and the accompanying concerts get the audience going.
However, the key element that makes a beer festival great is the beers on offer. That is, beers that are different and special. When I attended a beer festival in Brussels, for example, we took care to drink our beers in 25cl glasses, because the aim was not to get drunk, but to try as many different beers as possible.
Belgian beers such as Leffe or Trappist are already world famous, and of course they were represented at the festival, but there were also, for example, kiwi beers, pink beers, beers from local producers that had never seen the light of day, and others that were produced just for the festival. In other words, it was a real festival in Brussels. For the same reasons, this festival was not. I don't know why, but if you went to a grocery store you would be happier about the variety of beers compared to this event.
There is no shortage of sausage or hamburger vendors, and they all have something in common to offer at the counter: 'bretzel.' The bretzel they make is nowhere near the original. Someone should let them know that doesn't make it a good festival, nor does it make it more German or authentic when you have something you call 'bretzel' on your counter. It just makes it pretentious since you don't have the real thing on offer.
If you want to make a beer festival great, the first thing you have to do is to bring beer closer to its homeland, Anatolia. For example, they could make a wheat beer using our heritage siyez or karakilcik varieties, or they could try a local blend so we would be interested in listening to their story.
Let's say we don't have a significant number of local producers, but I reckon if you triple the hops you use, you can get something else, like an IPA, or you can localize the beer using various blends. There are a lot of things you can do if you want to do it.
In short, Oktoberfest alla Turca was artificial and based on reaction, like many other things in recent years. People go there more as a reaction to the concert bans and the exorbitant increases in alcohol prices, to resist encroachment on their lifestyle.
And in that respect, it was quite helpful. But unfortunately, the same anger that brought people there also drives away the festive mood. Unfortunately, the festival in Bomonti fell far short of its potential, and it is a stretch to call it a festival in the first place.
*Born in Istanbul, Kadikoy in 1989, he has written for many different newspapers and magazines. He received his Cultural Studies Master's degree from Bilgi University. His first book “Futbol mu? Yok daha neler” was published in 2012, which was a compilation of his many interviews. He analyzed Resat Nuri Guntekin’s political views in his own material in his second book “Operada Mucella Suzan,” which was published in 2019. His first novel “Aksamlar Artik Serin” was published in November 2020, and his second novel “Biraz Ses Olsun” was published in January 2021.