As Oktoberfest draws near, people all over the world prepare to celebrate by hosting beer festivals.
These festivals however, have recently garnered controversy in Malaysia, even leading to the annual Better Beer Festival being cancelled. This happened after the Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS) expressed concern over Kuala Lumpur becoming Asia’s vice centre and the fact that alcohol consumption could lead to destructive activities such as drink driving.
Now, it looks like one festival in Penang is planning to combat those issues raised by introducing an alcohol-free option among their other alcoholic beers at their 45th Oktoberfest!
According to Free Malaysia Today, the Malaysian-Germany Society (MGS) Oktoberfest chairperson Dr Wolfgang Mark said they would be adding non-alcoholic beer to their menu to help prevent instances of drink driving. He also said this was to keep with the current trend in Germany.
“A lot of people have been drinking and driving after Oktoberfest events, so we have decided to include alcohol-free beer so all can have a good time and not drive home drunk.”
“These drinks are now popular in Germany and have the same taste as regular beer,” the chairperson said at a press conference earlier today (4th October).
The festival, which will be held in Jalan Air Itam from 13th to 14th October, has already gotten approval from authorities, assuring that this year’s festival will prioritise safety.
The event will have its usual security checks at the venue’s entrance. This year, they have taken the additional measure of getting 15 Rela officers to monitor traffic and conduct surveillance. Five police officers will also be at the venue to monitor security.
Nearly 3,000 people are expected to attend this year’s Oktoberfest in Penang due to a large number of German companies in the state.
Dr Wolfgang Mark also clarified misconceptions about the cultural festival during the press conference, calling it “a festival of joy” that isn’t just about alcohol consumption.
“The festival is not entirely about beer. It is deeper than that. It is about our Bavarian harvest festival, good food and cultural exchange.”
“In Penang, we have been doing this for the past 45 years. In Germany, we have been celebrating for the past 210 years.”
“I know there are discussions going around the country, but we will carry on with our celebration and tradition, knowing full well our celebration is about fostering the goodwill of the people of Germany and Malaysia.”
Apart from beer, you can also expect some delicious German food like sausages, sauerkraut, meatloaf and pretzels. Of course, there will also be Malaysian delicacies like chicken satay, fried seafood and cakes served at the festival.
As for the beers being served, classic German beer like Löwenbräu and Erdinger, while Franziksaner, Wasteriner and König Ludwig bottled beers will be available at the festival, too.
The event is also expected to be attended by the new German ambassador to Malaysia, Nikolaus Graf Lambsdorff.
Sounds extremely fun! Well, if you’re looking for an authentic Oktoberfest experience, we think it’s worth a road trip to Penang! Check out their website for more information!
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