It's a gorgeous autumn day here in London and in Munich, the final day of Oktoberfest - the world's most celebrated beer festival.
Running from September into early October for over 200 years, this community-minded and Teutonically well-organised extravanganza is set amidst Munich's storybook Cathedral spires and has everything you could ask for - music, friends and family, beer, meat, pretzels and even discreet and convenient vomiting stations should the need arise. If beer has a literal and spiritual home, this is it.
Purist in an age of variety, Oktoberfest only offers beer from Munich's six biggest breweries but the names in question - Spaten, Hofbräu, Augustiner, Hacker-Pschorr, Lowenbrau and Paulaner - have undoubtedly earned that right. They boast a few thousand years of brewing excellence between them - the youngest was established in 1634 while four pre-date the German Purity Law.
Happily, each brews especially for the occasion and Colin was on the ground on the first day early doors to sample the goods and kibbitz with the great and good of the brewing world including the team at Bristol's Wild Beer Co. For Colin, this year's favourite was the Spaten, a light 5.9% lager.
"It's got a bit of light sulphur on the nose with a pleasant malt creaminess. It's loaded with German noble hops, which deliver spicy herbal notes and a really upfront bitterness which I'd guess is in the region of 40-45 IBU. It's a fairly dry beer - but as with all the beers you'll find at Oktoberfest, there is enough malty, alcoholic sweetness to balance the bitterness."
At €10.70 a litre, just don't break the seal too early.
Fun fact: the idea of the seal is yet another beer innovation we have the Germans to thank for.