If you're in the Mother City this weekend and looking for something a little different, head to the Newlands Brewery for Bierfest 2012, where you can experience the world-famous Oktoberfest, right in the Southern Suburbs.
The Cape Town Bierfest runs from 13 to 16 September, and we were there on its opening night to experience the food, the frauleins, the band and - of course, the beer!
If there's any advice that I can dish out, it's to arrive early and be prepared for a bit of traffic – and plan your parking in advance. There is a parking map available on the Bierfest website, but ready yourselves for a short walk to the venue in most instances. Of course, if you are planning on drinking, make sure if you have another plan in place for getting home.
Once we had managed to find parking, the entry process was pretty smooth – and it was on to the beer and the food! South African Breweries' master brewers have created three limited Bavarian-style beers for the occasion: Munich Dunkel, a dark, malty beer which "boasts hints of chocolate and caramel"; the light, sweet Krystal Weiss, with "vanilla undertones and slight hop aromas" and the table favourite, the Royal Bavaria – an easy-drinking beer, described as having "low hop flavours and a moderately dry finish" by the brewers. If these three beers are not quite your style, a range of other SAB beers and ciders are available, as well as wine and soft drinks.
We were also treated to platters of traditional Bavarian food through the evening – including pickles, roasted pork knuckle, roasted chicken, pretzels, various sausages and apple strudel – which was all delicious, and with the beer being served in one litre steins, a necessity!
At the Bierfest, all of your transactions will be conducted with "crowns" – tokens that are valued at R20 each, and can be bought in packs of five to the value of R100. So if you're tempted by the food or drink, summon the closest fraulein and present her with your crowns.
And speaking of the frauleins, we received nothing but enthusiastic and excellent service from the costumed servers, who work for free and rely on your tips – so keep your wallet handy!
The venue - which is decked out to resemble a traditional Bavarian beerhouse and can seat up to 2500 people - was spacious, warm on a chilly night and well-ventilated. The bathrooms were a revelation - I didn't queue once, and instead of the usual "portaloos" they were actual mobile bathrooms, with a number of stalls each. While the toilets flushed, the taps didn't work on the first night, so handwashing was out - so bring some hand-sanitiser just in case.
The atmosphere in the venue was delightfully rowdy, with performances by the wonderfully charismatic Songscape Beerfest Band, who performed a mixture of traditional beerfest tunes, their modern counterparts and South African hits that had the crowd on their feet.
So pop on your suspenders, grab your hat and practice your "Prosts!" – the Bierfest promises a great time out for food and beer lovers in the Mother City.
For more information, check out www.bierfest.co.za.