Far Out
I knew they were gay friendly, but this is just too kind.

Beer is Hell

There's a special kind of Hell. A Hell which preys on your mind and messes with your brain. A Hell in which everything is bright, sharp and clear. In Munich, I practically swim in such a Hell.

Of course, hell is exactly that: the German word for bright or clear. The estate agent said my apartment was hell. People who sit through my PowerPoint presentations proclaim them, loudly, to be hell. Over my first few months in Germany, I've had day upon day of pure, sheer, constant hell.

Mostly, though, we apply this all-too-fitting word to beer. Helles Bier is the most popular Bavarian brew, outselling dunkel (dark), and hefe-weiß (yeast-wheat) by a considerable margin. In the most profound way, Munich is a hell of a town.

Given the high Nebenkosten (water rates), beer is actually cheaper than water. If I were on Bavarian food stamps, I'd make Helles my staple source of nourishment.

"We drink always Helles," said Zero, the office fixer, "because you can't get drunk on it."

"The stuff is 5% alcohol. Of course you can get drunk on it..." I noted.

"Impossible!" he countered. "You would need to drink so much of it, you'd exschplode!"

Briefing for a Descent into Helles*

Over the coming weeks, many would come in clear danger of explosion, tortured by their own self-inflicted hell. The drunkest city on the planet would reach a tipsy zenith. Oktoberfest.

Bavarian Beer Purity Laws set the alcohol content of festival beer at 6%, so the forces that fuel hell grow strong.

As Oktoberfest drew close, a total of six adult guests from loomed from abroad, all expecting a berth in my modest apartment. Strangely, none drank beer, but that didn't blunt their resove.

Further, my clients from the Large German Car Maker that Shall Remain Nameless, fell over themselves to schedule meetings in Munich that fortnight, rather than making us travel to Stuttgart as usual.

Even without these freeloaders, hell was inescapable. My office faces Theresienhöhe, which forms the western border of the Wies'n (meadow) on which the festival is held.

Of course, when I say meadow, I refer to a ghastly asphalt lot the size of five football fields, vacant save for these three weeks in autumn. That's when 40% of the annual beer production of Bavaria is consumed, along with half a million BBQ chickens, 88 spit roasted oxen, four million pretzels, and a relatively modest 200,000 pairs of sausages. Seven million visitors would drink, eat, stagger, flirt, snog, puke and/or queue for the lav.

I would visit a total of three times. It was hell. Approximmately eight litres of it, in total.

To be continued...

* With apologies to freshly-minted Nobel laureate Doris Lessing.

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