Erlanger Bergkirchweih or the “Berch” as the Franconias say it. It is an annual beer festival, which has had a long history back and proves to be a MUST if you happen to live in the region of Franconia. What’s so special about this beer festival? I was at first a bit skeptical, since I haven’t been a fan of beer festivals, simply because I’m not a fan of drunk people, I can’t tolerate that much of alcohol and believe it or not, beer is such an extreme potent diuretics for me (it means that the time I’d spend in the toilet would be probably longer than the time I’d spend in the beer tent, and you know how long the queues for the toilets in such beer festivals).
Anyway, I’ve been reading about the history of Bergkirchweih and I must admit, I should give this beer festival a chance 🙂 Believe it or not, ever since I’ve lived in Germany I haven’t been once on the Oktoberfest in Munich. I am still debating with myself, whether I should have the beer-phoria in Munich or not. But unlike the Oktoberfest in Munich, the Berch gives me a bit of a familiar sense and less of touristic feeling. This festival takes place in Erlangen, a student city about 20 km away north of Nuremberg. Erlangen may not ring a bell for a lot of people, but this small city has a lot of surprises in it! It is a familiar, pretty much prosperous “small” franconian town which houses a big prestigious university.
So then I’ve given it another thought. Now I have a German husband who’s originally from Bavaria – Franconia. I have such a German name. We have lived in Franconia for almost 2 years now. Everybody seems to be so excited about the Erlanger Bergkirchweih and so many ladies are dressed up in such nice Dirndl! Okay, probably one of the biggest reasons I finally go to Bergkirchweih is that I FINALLY have the chance to wear my Dirndl 😉
A bit of the background: back in the 17th century the Huguenots started to store their beer in the cellars of the Berg (hill) so that they could have their cold beers in the summer. The first Berch took place in the year of 1755! They said that this festival is even older than the Oktoberfest in Munich! The Berch always starts on a Thursday before the Pentecost and lasts for 12 days. The festival which is accounted to be the biggest beer garden of Europe is located in the slope of a hill in the northern part of Erlangen, so yes the beer tents are outside, which is perfect for summer days 🙂
The first time I went to the Berch I actually dared to ask for a small (0,25 liter) Radler (a sweet mixed beer and lemonade, which is the only beer I like to drink..). And that was of course a NO-GO! :p You get here “eine Maß” of beer, which is one liter of beer or Radler. So yes, it was a battle between me and the Maß 😉 but with a good company and a good music provided by the bands, I actually managed to finish the Maß!
Other than the beer tents, you also see the usual attractions just as on any other Volksfests. There are funny crazy rides, a big ferris wheel, where you can have a nice view over the city. They have thousands of food stalls, ranging from Würstchen, Brezen and Crepes… (what you also need if you drink a lot of beers 😉 ).
So, today was actually a really good day for the Berch! I had mighty fun with good friends, a Maß of good Radler and a savory Berg-Brezen. The band played good music and the level of “drunkenness” was under control. Hey, I might come again next year!