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Spaten Brewery, Munich, Germany

Joe H

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Nobody will remember this, but I'll say it anyway: 25 years ago, Spaten was a wonderful brewery, and in particular Spaten Oktoberfest was, not just good, but flat-out amazing. I'll never forget one day, back in the late 1980s, when my friend Curtis and I went to "Steak Night" (I think on Mondays, they offered a steak for something like $11.95) at The Saloon (now called The Saloun due to a legal battle over the name) in Georgetown. Anyway, it was during Oktoberfest, and we both ordered a half-liter mug. I will never forget the two of us taking our first sip at the exact same moment, and both of us looking up at each other, in complete awe and disbelief over how amazing this keg of beer was. The look on his face is forever etched in my memory - Spaten Oktoberfest used to be a thing of wonder; no longer.

Nevertheless, I started my meal with a half-liter of ... guess what ... Spaten Oktoberfest ($7.50), and in retrospect, I really wish my (otherwise friendly) server had given me the option of a full liter (he didn't ask what size I wanted, although I suppose I could have spoken up - I was pretty sure I'd end up ordering two, which I did). Sadly, the beer is now a very mass-produced product, and tastes like it. It's "okay," but completely unrelated to the glorious beer that it used to be a quarter-century in the past. I don't often pine away for the "good old days," but my palate memory, if I do say so myself, is nothing short of remarkable, and I ask people to believe me when I tell them that this beer used to be flat-out awesome.

Harris Teeter sells Spaten which my wife first had in Munich in April and loved. Bayern is beating Dusseldorf 3-0 as I type this...

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I wrote my friend Curtis (with whom I went to Munich, among other places, in 1989) and alerted him to this post. His response:

You won't believe what's in my fridge right now: Spaten Oktoberfest -- and you're right: It's OK, but no longer great.

I actually do remember that evening -- and many others I used to have there. I loved going to the saloon and getting that combo (steak & Spaten & many other beers -- they had over 30 at the time). I even took more than one date there...

Thanks for stirring up those long-dormant memory cells!

- Your Superior

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http://www.langolo-della-pizza.de/ is where Carol had her first Spaten in Munich. It is also one of the best pizzarias I have ever been to. I would trade it for anything in the D. C. area in a heartbeat-not just its pizza but also for the character of the room it is in.

As an aside, we went to a very creative Michelin starred restaurant, Terrine http://www.terrine.de/

where we met the chef. He asked us, "where in Amerca are you from?" We answered Washington, D. C. He then said that we "would understand his food...much of the rest of America would not." http://www.terrine.de/Kueche/index.html

I found this encouraging, that a great German/European chef was lumping us with New York and San Francisco.

As many Americans have a distorted view of German food so do many Germans have a similarly distorted view of what American food can be.

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No matter what beer it is, my experience is that it never tastes as good here as it does over there. It's served too cold, the head is wrong, the Pils is tapped too fast, etc. And then there's the question of transport across the pond. For this reason I hardly ever drink beer in the States, but it's the first thing I suck down when I get off the plane in Germany.

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