Clear in its intentions and short on subtlety, Octoberfest Pub brings a little slice of Munich's iconic Oktoberfest season to south west London all year round. Enormous beers are paired up with a brass band, while the party atmosphere is apparent from the moment you glimpse the Fulham High Street façade.
Designed to emulate a Munich beer hall, this bar features long wooden picnic-style benches and Bavarian-style decor, with Oktoberfest memorabilia and colourful flags on the walls and ceiling. Staff sport dirndl dresses and lederhosen as they dish out beers by the litre from behind a relatively small bar area, considering the size of the tipples it proffers. So, it may not emulate the scale of the famed German festival tents, but it has captured the spirit for sure, and that's before the party even gets started.
Predictably, Saturday nights steal the show at Octoberfest Pub; when it’s buzzing this is one of the most rowdy and raucous nights out in the area. Granted, it may not suit everybody's taste, but the beer flows freely and impossibly large steins spill over with froth, while the clientele disregard the rules and leap on the benches to oompah tunes. Local legends Oompah Brass take to the stage with a set-list of chart classics and rock ballads featuring tubas, trombones and other brass lovelies. These are show folk, interacting with the crowd and clearly enjoying the atmosphere and intimacy of the venue, and while maybe it's not entirely responsible, they certainly play a part in getting feet on tables and drinks down the hatch with a string of games and challenges that attract the student crowd. However revellers also include professional 20-somethings and birthday bookings. These weekend parties do indeed capture the festival spirit, and there's a sociable, community feel that does indeed resemble that of Munich in Oktoberfest season.
That said, when the weeknights roll around, the whole get-up can begin to seem a bit silly. A litre of beer is rather a lot for a Tuesday night, and the festival theme is in danger of slipping into gimmick territory. Still, it's not an unpleasant place to enjoy a beer, even when it's quiet. The team are pleasant and attentive, and the drinks selection is a beer lover's gift that just keeps giving.
To match the hearty beer stocks, the food menu offers traditional German cuisine of currywurst, pretzels, meatballs and more. Sizeable main meals generally come in at under £10, while snacks can help sociable drinkers line their stomachs in true Bavarian style. Of course, a food challenge beckons. Diners are called upon to unleash their inner lumberjack and chow down two pork knuckles served with chips and sauerkraut, with a stein of Löwenbräu for good measure.
Themes and festivities aside, this little pub truly earns its stripes behind the bar. Huge helpings of lager and weissbeers come imported from Germany, served up from taps or in bottles. A total of around 60 beers are up for the tasting, with big names including Paulaner, Augustiner and Furstenburg. The bar staff can stand up to an interrogation on tastes and preference, offering advice and perfectly pouring pints from £3.50 to £5 and steins from £9 or £10 a pop. Regulars are invited to take on a beer challenge, sampling 55 flavours in the space of six months, while those feeling ambitious can test out a menu of German schnapps too. If beer doesn't appeal, however, there are various wines, spirits and mixers, but it's clear where the speciality lies, and that's where you'll find the variety, too.
The Last Word
The success of an evening at Octoberfest Pub fully depends on the entertainment on offer, the crowd in tow and personal preference. But, come Saturday night, it really does become something reminiscent of the great beer halls in Munich. Here, guests can let their hair down, hit the dance floor and enjoy a few decent drinks, in a simply silly and minimum-pressure night on the tiles.