Germany's giant beer party deploys stench-eating bacteria

Sep 19, 2010 by Anne Padieu
Two visitors from Basel, Switzerland, wearing traditional Basel city guard uniforms, pictured in a tent on the opening day of the 177th Oktoberfest beer festival at the Theresienwiese in Munich, southern Germany, on September 18. Germany's giant Oktoberfest, now celebrating its 200th birthday, is rising to a new challenge -- stinky drinking halls -- with a new weapon: stench-eating bacteria.

Germany's giant Oktoberfest beer party, now celebrating its 200th birthday, is rising to a new challenge -- stinky drinking halls -- with a new weapon: stench-eating bacteria.

In past years, olfactory offences in the giant tents emanating from stale , sweat and bratwurst could simply be masked with .

But now smokers hoping to enjoy a puff with their brew were advised to leave their packets at home after the southern state of Bavaria decided to ban smoking across the state in all pubs, cafes and beer tents.

Although the Oktoberfest, which started Saturday, enjoys a special exception for this year, most beer tents serving the up to six million visitors expected at the two-week-long event were observing a voluntary ban.

This development led one enterprising German, Hubert Hackl, to cook up a cocktail of bacteria that "eat" the putrid smell of partying.

Hackl's magic potion is a "brownish liquid with the pleasant scent of humus", or mature compost, he said, rounded off with a hint of seaweed and molasses then left to ferment.

"This is the most natural way of treating ," Hackl said.

The elixir faces a formidable opponent.

The beer halls, where up to 7,000 revellers can gather, are usually poorly ventilated. The stale air combined with rotten food scraps, spilled drinks and body odour can form a noxious mix.

Spread across the wooden floorboards of the beer tents at a volume of 200 millilitres (seven ounces) per square metre (yard) per day, Hackl's concoction travels the same route as the spilled beer, seeping between the planks and into the soil.

The process eliminates the undesirable organic materials nestled under the tents, ensuring that what wafts back up has a neutral earthy smell.

What remains is "a natural fertiliser for grass growing back in the spring," said Hackl, who has been supplying detergents and other cleaning products to the beer festival for 28 years.

However some tent proprietors remained sceptical and preferred to rely on conventional methods.

Hundreds of people celebrate in the Hofbraeuhaus tent after the opening of the Oktoberfest beer festival at the Theresienwiese in Munich, southern Germany, on September 18. Germany's giant Oktoberfest beer party, now celebrating its 200th birthday, is rising to a new challenge -- stinky drinking halls -- with a new weapon: stench-eating bacteria.

"The little bit of beer that flows into the soil is not really a problem," said Peter Schottenhamel, 69, owner of the oldest beer tent at Oktoberfest, which was opened by an ancestor in 1867.

The burly, clear-eyed Munich native has opted to invest in a better ventilation system.

But many taverns were game to try out the new brew.

"We are experimenting with this method for the first time," said Renate Heide, who runs the beer hall Braeurosl, capacity 6,200.

The largest of the lot, the imposing Hofbraeu, offers seats for 7,000 revellers. It was the first to test the product over the last two years, manager Friedrich Steinberg said, "particularly at the counters where odours accumulate".

"Things are much better in the toilets too," Steinberg told AFP as he hung "No Smoking" signs in the premises.

Oktoberfest, billed the world's largest festival of its kind, runs to October 4.

Explore further: Environmental pollutants make worms susceptible to cold

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Keeping beer fresher

Jun 02, 2008

Scientists in Venezuela are reporting an advance in the centuries-old effort to preserve the fresh taste that beer drinkers value more than any other characteristic of that popular beverage. Their study, which ...

Lufthansa invites iPhone 'loser' to Germany

Apr 23, 2010

Lufthansa said on Friday that it has invited the Apple software engineer who left an iPhone prototype in a German-style beer garden in California a free trip to "pick up where you last left off." ...

Japanese plan to brew 'space beer'

May 28, 2008

A Japanese brewery Tuesday said it was planning the first "space beer," using offspring of barley once stored at the International Space Station.

British pub finds smoking ban loophole: report

May 13, 2009

The landlady of a British pub has exploited a loophole in the country's smoking ban by opening a "smoking research centre" where drinkers can light up legally, reports said Wednesday.

Recommended for you

Environmental pollutants make worms susceptible to cold

Sep 19, 2014

Some pollutants are more harmful in a cold climate than in a hot, because they affect the temperature sensitivity of certain organisms. Now researchers from Danish universities have demonstrated how this ...

A new quality control pathway in the cell

Sep 18, 2014

Proteins are important building blocks in our cells and each cell contains millions of different protein molecules. They are involved in everything from structural to regulatory aspects in the cell. Proteins are constructed ...

User comments : 0