Raise Your Mugs to German Efficiency!

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By NICHOLAS KULISH
Published: October 1, 2009

MUNICH — Every visit to the Oktoberfest lost and found has a story behind it,
but not every visitor can remember exactly what that story is.
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Michaela Handrek-Rehle for The New York Times

Glasses waiting to be claimed.

Kikki Friedensburg let out a squeal of unconcealed joy on a recent afternoon at
the sight of her scratched gray Samsung cellphone, which had slipped from the
pocket of her traditional dirndl. It was, she conceded, hard to say exactly when
over the course of a very long evening the phone had disappeared, because the
139-pound, 22-year-old student drank nearly 10 pints of strong Oktoberfest beer.

“I’d given up,” said a visibly relieved Ms. Friedensburg, who found her phone —
and more important, the phone numbers of all her friends — in one of the
drawers, carefully segregated by manufacturer, next to the umbrella stand that
also held a pair of crutches and a fishing rod waiting to be claimed. “I just
didn’t have it in me to start over with everything,” she said.

Many festival visitors do not even realize that there is a central lost and
found, run by the city workers who run Munich’s year-round lost and found and
reinforced by temps and interns from other departments. But the Fundbüro, as it
is called in German, is locally famous for what has ended up there over the
years, including a prosthetic leg, a wheelchair, a Superman costume, handwritten
notes by the composer Johann Sebastian Bach and 15,000 marks in a soiled pair of
lederhosen, eventually returned to the embarrassed owner who abandoned them.

But as the staff must tell teary-eyed teenage girls every year, they do not keep
track of lost boyfriends.

The police, waiters and partygoers bring in the items discovered under the
benches of the cavernous Oktoberfest tents, the biggest of which hold up to
10,000 singing, inebriated revelers. The half-dozen workers at the lost and
found, some themselves clad in lederhosen and dirndls, peck away at old
typewriters as they fill out the index cards detailing where and when the
traditional Bavarian Janker jacket or brand-new iPhone was discovered, doing
their best to bring order to disorder.

Oktoberfest proves that Germans can, in fact, loosen up and have fun. But they
are going to have a system in place and prepare themselves for every eventuality
first.

Preparedness turned into an unexpectedly significant theme at this year’s
Oktoberfest after terrorist threats were made against the festival, part of an
effort by Islamist militants to intimidate Germans over the country’s troop
presence in Afghanistan ahead of last Sunday’s election. To discourage would-be
attackers, the Munich police increased the number of officers to 700 from 400
and closed more streets around the party.

But the menacing intrusion of the outside world does not seem to have dampened
the moods of visitors. Organizers estimated that in the first week of the
two-week festival, which ends this Sunday, 3.3 million people, 100,000 more than
in 2008, came to sample the products of the city’s famous breweries like
Paulaner, Augustiner and the Hofbräuhaus. Among them they downed nearly a
million gallons of beer.

Oktoberfest, which got its start with the marriage of Crown Prince Ludwig in
1810, is more than just an exercise in binge drinking and loud renditions of
favorite songs like “Ein Prosit” and, somewhat improbably, John Denver’s
“Country Roads.” Children dash from roller coaster to carousel rides and
families dig into heaping plates of ox and chicken. But the party mood is
dominant.

Strapping men in leather shorts with suspenders and brightly checked shirts and
women in peasant dresses are ready to forget not just their troubles, but also
their wallets and wedding rings, or as Stephan Weiler did, the keys to his
apartment.

Like one of the characters in the recent hit film “The Hangover,” Mr. Weiler,
28, a bioengineer, was piecing the events of the previous evening together with
the help of photographs on his digital camera. As he surveyed the white wall by
the entrance studded with hooks bearing over a hundred keys, none of them his,
he said he had not given up hope.

Employees said they were bracing for the coming final weekend, when thousands of
people would descend on the lost and found to search for their missing objects,
most operating under the false impression that it would be their last chance. In
fact, the staff spends months working with consulates to return passports, banks
to find the owners of A.T.M. cards and telephone companies to hand over the
misplaced cellphones.

According to Maik Müller, deputy director of the lost and found, while only a
fifth of all the roughly 5,000 objects lost each year are reunited with their
owners, the rate of return for cellphones and wallets was between 60 and 70
percent. The remainder are auctioned off to help cover expenses or given to
charities.

For Sam Sealy, 19, from Bellevue, Wash., it was relatively easy to prove
ownership, since his passport was in his gray and blue backpack. An alert staff
member actually recognized him from his photograph before he even made it to the
counter to inquire. Mr. Sealy, who came to Oktoberfest while studying abroad in
the Czech Republic, could not believe his luck, that not only his bag had been
found but also his passport, iPod, camera and two $100 bills.

Mr. Sealy had to sign forms and hand over $60 to get them back — the fee is 5
percent of the value of the goods up to $725 and 3 percent after — but he said
it was worth it. Praising German efficiency, Mr. Sealy said, “I’m amazed I went
to a lost and found and actually found what was missing. That never happens in
America.”

The stream of increasingly inebriated visitors as day turns to night can be
trying for the staff at times. In one episode, a young man, unsteady on his
feet, refused to leave but instead mumbled, “Nein, nein, nein,” for several
minutes, before resting his head on the counter and switching to his first name,
“Maximilian, Maximilian, Maximilian,” as though it were an incantation to summon
his lost wallet.

An equally distraught and intoxicated young American man was escorted to the
police by Tobias Wenk, 35, who works full time in the main lost and found, to
get him help canceling the credit cards in his lost wallet. “We finished
canceling them,” Mr. Wenk said upon returning to his station, “and the wallet
was in his pocket all along.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/02/world/europe/02octoberfest.html?hp
Re: Raise Your Mugs to German Efficiency!


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...

   They serve Festbier by the pint in Germany? And it's strong?  Huh.
--
Joel Plutchak

"New opinions are always suspected, and usually opposed, without any
other reason but because they are not already common." - John Locke

Re: Raise Your Mugs to German Efficiency!


 plutchak@see.headers (Joel) wrote:

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I assume they converted it to "more American units".  If so,
that would be about 5 and 1/2 Masskrüge which, for a 139-pound
woman, would be a bit, even over a full day of drinking, I
suppose.

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Re: Raise Your Mugs to German Efficiency!


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[It sounds downright scary to me...]

So how _do_ they serve beer there?  Are those giant mugs you often see
in pictures of oktoberfest what they use generally?

-Miles

--
Insurrection, n. An unsuccessful revolution.

Re: Raise Your Mugs to German Efficiency!


On 10/2/2009 7:42 PM Miles Bader ignored two million years of human evolu=
tion to write:

Quoted text here. Click to load it

How _do_ they serve beer where?  At Oktoberfest, it's served in
the one-liter "Mass" glass mug, and it's served that way elsewhere
in Munich and southern Bavaria, but it's not common across Germany
by any means.  You'll see beer served by the Mass at other brewfests
in Bavaria, and a few beer halls too.  Munich's Forschungsbrauerei
(a small brewery and pub that isn't well-known to outsiders, thank
goodness) serves only by the Mass after 4pm, and if you want to get
confused in a quick hurry, a Mass of the St-Jakobus Blonder Bock will
do that readily.  Otherwise, at most bars and pubs, you usually have
to specify a Mass if that's what you really want; the default order
is usually a half-liter (Helles, Dunkles, Weizenbier) or 0.3 liter
(Pils).  That's generally true in just about all of Bavaria (including
the not-so-Bavarian region of Franconia to the north).  Get to other
cities, and things change:  0.2 liter glasses of the local specialty
in Cologne, 0.25 liter glasses in DBCsseldorf, 0.4 liter "Prussian
pints" in Berlin, and so on.

Drink up.  Oktoberfest is just about over anyway.

Re: Raise Your Mugs to German Efficiency!


On 10/2/2009 7:42 PM Miles Bader ignored two million years of human evolu=
tion to write:

Quoted text here. Click to load it

How _do_ they serve beer where?  At Oktoberfest, it's served in
the one-liter "Mass" glass mug, and it's served that way elsewhere
in Munich and southern Bavaria, but it's not common across Germany
by any means.  You'll see beer served by the Mass at other brewfests
in Bavaria, and a few beer halls too.  Munich's Forschungsbrauerei
(a small brewery and pub that isn't well-known to outsiders, thank
goodness) serves only by the Mass after 4pm, and if you want to get
confused in a quick hurry, a Mass of the St-Jakobus Blonder Bock will
do that readily.  Otherwise, at most bars and pubs, you usually have
to specify a Mass if that's what you really want; the default order
is usually a half-liter (Helles, Dunkles, Weizenbier) or 0.3 liter
(Pils).  That's generally true in just about all of Bavaria (including
the not-so-Bavarian region of Franconia to the north).  Get to other
cities, and things change:  0.2 liter glasses of the local specialty
in Cologne, 0.25 liter glasses in DBCsseldorf, 0.4 liter "Prussian
pints" in Berlin, and so on.

Drink up.  Oktoberfest is just about over anyway.

Re: Raise Your Mugs to German Efficiency!


Quoted text here. Click to load it

More or less, depending on what the meaning of "pint" is.

Quoted text here. Click to load it

Er...IIReckonC, 10 pints (US) would be less than 5 liters.  And
then given the notorious short pours at the Oktoberfest...but
yes, 139# is pretty waify for 4-5 liters of ~6% beer.  

Big deal though--who could possibly choke down even one Ma7
of such bland, sweet, SHITE?  Christ, I can't even finish a
half liter of any of the Ofestbier(s), they're so dumbed down
for the tourists/to get people drunk.  And for 8+ EUR a Maß!

Christ, I got plowed after 3-1/2 liters of Roppelt Kellerbier,
at ~5%, and for which I paid 2 EUR a liter at their sort-of-not-
really-Oktoberfest last Wednesday, their last day of Bierkeller
season, when beer is traditionally nearly half price.  (Normal
price is 3.50 per liter)  

(Actually, I didn't pay anything, as beer's traditionally free
for regulars on KellerClosingDay.  Hey, I got comped!1!1!!)

ObCrapHandyFotos:
http://i33.tinypic.com/2d0bbiv.jpg (IIRC the day's first Maß)
http://i36.tinypic.com/2yy2ejo.jpg "Last day at the Keller"
And ObCrapHandyVideo: http://de.tinypic.com/r/2dotxj/4 (Hey, I'd been drinkin'. Me Kellermate seems to have ducked
out of view.)

And is there a better beer in Krautley than Roppelt's?  I'm
not aware of one, except maybe Griess Kellerbier, and a couple
of the better Franconian winter bocks, namely Griess and
Mönschsambacher.  But even these aren't necessarily better.
Roppelt's is simply  perfectly balanced between malt, hops,
and a yeast that ends up being a bit fruity.

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