Hager’s Heroes: @BrauhausSchmitz Oktoberfest a Bavarian Bacchanalia of Brotherly Love
Steve Fogleman, Baltimore Beer Baron
(Philadelphia, September 19)–In this contentious Presidential election year, everyone’s on edge. Brother yelling at Brother. Your Facebook page turning into a shouting match. We can’t believe half of what we hear on television anymore. In this age of neo-cynicism, we decided to test out the old cliché that Philadelphia is the City of Brotherly Love. Is it? Yes it is, and definitely during South Street Oktoberfest hosted by Brauhaus Schmitz.
The 8th Annual South Street Oktoberfest started an hour later this year, at noon, but that didn’t stop the Bavarian Bacchanalia from reaching a feverish pitch with over 8,000 participants before happy hour in the rest of the City of Philadelphia had even begun.
Sebastian Romig nabbed the annual Liter Lift title after outlasting the other hoisters in a contest where they’ve since changed the rules to make it very difficult. In previous years, contestants were able to flip their wrists to provide more staying power, but not this year. After holding his beer out straight as if preparing for a toast that might never come for 6 minutes, Romig walked off with a $500 cash prize. His secret? “Keep your arm high at the beginning because as you get sore it begins to go down and have your beer muscles ready,” he told us while beaming and gleaming at the wad of $20 bills Hager had handed him less than two minutes before our interview. That sounds like good advice in every situation to us. When asked what it’s like to leave a drinking event with a lot more moolah in his pocket than we he got there, he admitted that “it’s unlike anything I’ve ever experienced before, I have to be honest.”
Brauhaus owner Doug Hager was running around the festival greeting participants like it was his wedding day but the easy-going Hager is no Bridezilla. He always seems to have as much fun as the rest of us during the event, and he’s quadrupled down on the fun this year. Hager’s Heroes will also invade the 23rd Street Armory for Columbus Day weekend to do it all again inside the armory he’s decking out, which looks to be fit for the feast of a Crown Prince and his bride.
“It keeps getting bigger and better every year. I like to think it’s just me and 8,000 of my closest friends, just for one day,” he said. “If you didn’t have enough fun at our South Street Oktoberfest, we do another festival coming up”. Tickets for the 5-session event are available at BrauhausSchmitzOktoberfest.com. Now if you didn’t have enough fun at this Oktoberfest, you might want to seek professional help, but who wouldn’t want to go to a fancier, indoor rewind of the gemutlichkeit felt and shared on this sunny Saturday in September?
Later, Hager said the Armory Oktoberfest was going to make the Saturday festivities “look like a cocktail party.” I don’t know where he goes to cocktail parties, but if I knew cocktail parties were this much fun, I’d have joined the circuit decades ago.
The most amazing part of the crowd is the good cheer. People are happy and well-behaved. There are no fights nor any anger displayed. Philadelphia Police stared on in amazement that there were zero incidents among a street crowd of this size that starts drinking at noon. It’s got to be the most requested sign-up on the overtime sheets for good reason.
Believe little of what you hear in the world today, but take it to the bank when we say that Brauhaus Schmitz puts the Brotherly Love on the streets of South Philly.