Last night I met up with our police friend Eberhard and visited the second-largest beer festival in the world, the Cannstatter Volksfest. It’s a 35 hectare fair area set on the banks of the Neckar river, with about six tents devoted to beer from Stuttgart. After a lot of deliberation, they recently added one that comes from the Bodensee area (not a Stuttgart brau). This has been going on for around 180 years, even during the two world wars.
The beer tents are temporary structures built out of timber and cost around $1MM each to assemble, according to Eberhard.
After our first liter (called a “Mass,” in German), I asked Eberhard if he wanted to get dinner. He gestured to his stomach and said there isn’t enough room for both beer and food, so we just have beer.
A woman tried to sell me a photograph of myself wearing a Bavarian hat and smoking a cigarillo. It was a cheap looking key-chain with my photo in it, and cost 8 euros. I told her no way, and she said she would have to kill herself if I didn’t buy it. I said I didn’t care.
Next, I had a woman try to sell me a shot of something – she pointed at me like, “you need one of these” – but Eberhard shooed her off. Most unusual was the woman selling a plate full of white radishes. I openly mocked Eberhard for this, and even mentioned it to the German next to us, at the biergarten. What a curious cultural observation: radishes, shots, key-chains, and small bottles of schnapps.
We visited three tents and made our way back to the S-Bahn by 7:30. I bought some lamb-shavings (Döner) from a subway stand, and we each had a small bottle of Ramazzotti on the train back to Ludwigsburg. The beer in Stuttgart is a percentage point higher than in Munich, and I felt it this morning.