Oktoberfest is my favorite holiday

Alright, maybe it is not my actual favorite, but it’s close third behind Christmas and Thanksgiving.

For the past six years or so, my parent’s have held an annual Oktoberfest party. My late grandmother was German, she made a mean potato salad and delicious red cabbage. Her father owned a meat shop on Broadway in Albany, New York. As I was surfing the world wide web I stumbled upon this old newspaper advertisement for Moch Meat Products from 1951. (The ad is in the far right column under the Miscellaneous section.) My great grand pappy would cure, smoke, or cut up your fresh pig! Isn't that adorable?

Oktoberfest - bratwurst and franks
Brats and Franks
But, I digress. What I’m trying to say is that we’ve got Oktoberfest in our bones people! Growing up with a bunch of mixed European roots I never really felt like I had “cultural” traditions. Yeah, my mom would do the corned beef and cabbage thing on St. Patrick’s day, but that was pretty much the extent of it.

However, Oktoberfest is one thing that we take seriously. I like to think of it as a tribute to the German side of our family. It’s great for a number of reasons; we get to drink good beer, hang outside on a crisp autumn day, and enjoy some classic Bavarian fare. All guests are asked to bring a pack of beer to share (it can be standard, unusual, microbrew, or homebrew). All the beers go into a kiddie pool filled with ice and are shared among the crowd. It’s great because you get to try a bunch of beers you’ve never had before, and you’re not stuck with the whole pack if you try something you don't like.

This year, we were introduced to one of the best (read: most dangerous) games in the world, hammerschlagen. Basically you need a thick piece of a tree trunk, a ball pein hammer, and some long nails. Each person lightly taps their nail into the trunk directly in front of them. The first player starts by tossing the hammer into the air so it makes a full rotation. For every rotation of the hammer they get one swing to hit their opponents’ nails. Once your nail is fully hammered in, you're out. The object of the game is to be the last nail standing. Then you are the Hammerschlagen der Meister! (Hammerschlagen Master) I just made that up, I’m not sure if that’s a proper translation at all. Regardless, it was quite fun, and after a few brews those nail heads become surprisingly difficult to hit.



  1. LOVE the Oktoberfest party idea - definitely a neat chance to try some new good beers.

    I learned a different variation of Hammerschlagen when I was dating a guy who lived in Minnesota (and apparently that is what they do there at every drinking event). Same stump, same nails, but this one was more of a handyman challenge, and I completely sucked at it. Basically, everyone starts their nails in, but then you each get one swing at a time to try to drive it all the way in. It becomes a choice between swinging hard (but potentially missing entirely) or giving it a lighter tap (so you'll definitely hit it but it won't go as far). The winner is the person who gets their (own) nail completely in first. Oddly enough, they have this game at bars and such... like I said, Minnesota is an interesting place :)

  2. This post is so wonderful, and I can't believe the ad you found! I just played this game this weekend, and used to play it in college, but we called it STUMP. Which is a fun thing to yell, and fairly self-explanatory. We use a real hammer, however, and there's no pausing between catching and swinging. Everyone else stands far back.


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