Warning: This post may contain spoilers, but not really.
2020 may taketh away, but 2020 also giveth. Come September, the world was left high, dry, and missing Munich Oktoberfest in a way it hasn’t since it was last canceled due to World War II. However, we were also given a decent substitute for entertainment in the form of the Netflix original series Oktoberfest: Beer and Blood.
The tagline reads:
“In 1900 Munich, ambitious brewer Curt Prank uses brutal tactics on his quest to build a beer hall that will dominate the city’s lucrative Oktoberfest.”
Out-of-towner Curt Prank has a vision for Oktoberfest. Mostly, to replace the small, dingy brewpubs of Oktoberfest with absolutely massive beer tents to draw unheard-of crowds to Munich. Everyone thinks he’s crazy and that it’ll never work. (Spoiler alert—if you’ve been to Oktoberfest you know it did.)
Only it’s not all that simple. Hold tight as murder, savage beatings, surprise pregnancies, more murder, scandal, tomfoolery, and a guy drinking his own piss out of a stein ensue. Oh, and they rip someone’s tooth out. Beer and Blood, indeed. So. much. blood.
However, this 6-episode period drama does have everything you could want from a virtual Oktoberfest experience. It’s got beer and plenty of it, kickass costumes, badass babes, old men taking the oath of the Reinheitsgebot, the invention of Ein Prosit, and plenty of shenanigans.
It’s violent, yet engaging. Sometimes it’s downright disgusting, yet quite sexy. (Honestly, does anyone ever clean up all the manure or are they just going to keep walking through it?)
It’s also supposedly “based on true events.” In fact, the character and story of Curt Prank is loosely related to that of Georg Lang—minus all the murder. Probably.
Oktoberfest: Beer and Blood’s real-life history
Georg Lang, a man from Nuremburg, managed to earn admittance to the Wiesn as a merchant in 1898 (mostly through loopholes and swindling). Despite not even hailing from Munich, they allowed him to open his own beer tent at Oktoberfest—a beer hall so large it took up the space of the five previous brewpubs. Sound familiar?
In addition to opening the first large-scale Oktoberfest beer tent, Lang was also the first to showcase a live band in an effort to increase beer consumption through a livelier mood. Methinks it worked. And he didn’t have to use his brass knuckles to make his point. Probably.
Many of the historical aspects you see in Oktoberfest: Beer and Blood are rooted in accuracy—both the stuff related to Oktoberfest and that of just typical German life. The individual characters and their actions, not so much.
But that doesn’t at all hinder the can’t-look-away-ness of this show. If you’re looking for a dramatic retelling of Oktoberfest’s history, this is it. Oktoberfest: Beer and Blood is part Game of Thrones-style gore and part fantastic learning opportunity!
Oktoberfest: Beer and Blood, a must-watch
All in all, Oktoberfest: Beer and Blood is an entertaining way to spend six 48-minute blocks of time. Crack open a beer, get way-too-excited when they start singing Ein Prosit, and prepare to shield your eyes at least once per episode. So much beer, so much blood.
Oktoberfest: Beer and Blood is exactly what we need in these Wiesn-less times. It’s available on Netflix in its original German, but you can watch it with subtitles and/or English dubbing here: https://www.netflix.com/title/81249469