Hofbrauhaus taps Vegas spirit for Oktoberfest

It would be easy to think that in the fall, everyone in Germany is heading to their local Oktoberfest for beer and bratwurst in lederhosen, but that isn’t the case. While there are several fall festivals involving beer, there is only one Oktoberfest, and it takes place in Munich in the Theresienwiese, where it has been since 1810.

While there is only one true Oktoberfest, you can taste the same beer that is brewed specially for the festival at the Hofbrauhaus Las Vegas, 4510 Paradise Road, during its Oktoberfest.

“Because this is America, everything is bigger and lasts longer,” said Klaus Gastager, vice president of Hofbrauhaus Las Vegas. “In Munich, it is 16 days. Here, it is six weeks.”

The original Hofbrauhaus, built in Munich in 1607, is owned by the Bavarian government. Several other Hofbrauhaus franchises have been permitted, but the local one is unique in that it was built following the original plans. The licensing for that took two years of negotiations.

Since the Las Vegas venue opened 11 years ago, it has celebrated its Oktoberfest with live music, celebrity keg tapping, special menus and the same beer served in Munich. Because the event begins and ends on weekends, it is a couple days longer than six weeks. Celebrity keg tapping is set to begin at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 18 with Siegfried & Roy, arguably the city’s most famous Germans. The magicians were the inaugural keg tappers and have continued that tradition nearly every year.

The tapping ceremonies are scheduled for Fridays and Saturdays through Oct. 31, ending with the women from Strip show “Fantasy” appearing in costume on Halloween. More than a dozen local celebrities and celebrity groups are set to tap kegs, including mixed martial artist Frank Mir at 7 p.m. Sept. 25; chef Rick Moonen; Rick Harrison of “Pawn Stars”; performers from “Legends In Concert”; and local tattoo artist, punk rock musician and owner of Pussykat Tattoo, 4972 S. Maryland Parkway, No. 12, Dirk Vermin.

Vermin recently got a boost in fame when he appeared on two seasons of A&E’s “Bad Ink.”

“I did the keg tapping last year, and it was a lot of fun,” he said. “There are opportunities that never would have come if it hadn’t been for ‘Bad Ink.’ It’s not about my 20 years as a musician or any of the other things I’ve done, but it’s a real kick to do it.”

Vermin has a lot of irons in the fire, which he may be free to announce at the event, but he has ended his tenure on “Bad Ink” and may find himself on another show soon. When asked if Vermin was a traditional German name, he responded with a laugh.

“It is now,” he said. “Just like every year at St. Patrick’s Day, I’m Irish.”

Coty Alexander, who portrays Madonna, Gwen Stefani and Lady Gaga in “Legends In Concert,” is excited about her first time at the keg tapping ceremony.

“I like beer, but it doesn’t necessarily like me,” Alexander said. “I’m not letting that stop me, though. I just do what I want to do in life.”

Alexander will be appearing as Madonna and wasn’t sure which of her fellow impressionists would be along, but she expects it to be entertaining because her fellow cast members are all terrific.

Gastager said the restaurant serves traditional German food the way it is prepared in Germany. The beer served is brewed according to the 499-year-old Bavarian purity law that requires the ingredients to be nothing but malt, hops and water. Oktoberfest beer tastes the same way it did in 1820 when Crown Prince Ludwig (later King Ludwig) hosted the original Oktoberfest in celebration of his wedding to Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen.

While the beer, decor and food is very authentic, Hofbrauhaus Las Vegas isn’t opposed to adjusting some traditions in deference to its adopted home.

“At the Oktoberfest in Munich, people arrive hours before the mayor taps the keg at noon on the opening day,” Gastager said. “There are so many people waiting in the tent, and no beer is served until then. Here, we do serve beer before the keg is tapped, but you have to wait until it is tapped to get the Oktoberfest beer.”

Visit hofbrauhauslasvegas.com or call 702-853-2337.

— To reach East Valley View reporter F. Andrew Taylor, email ataylor@viewnews.com or call 702-380-4532.

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