Beer.

In late 1989, the Warsaw Pact, and indeed the Soviet Union, were basically dead on their feet. The governments of Poland, Hungary, East Germany and Czechoslovakia amongst others were changing and parting company from the Soviet Union, which itself was slowly falling apart.

One consequence of this was that East Germans could do an end run around the interior German border by going into Hungary (my first draft of this said it was Czechoslovakia, but a little research suggests it was actually Hungary) and crossing into Austria and onto West Germany. In September, I was sent out, with sound recordist Roger Snow and correspondent Michael MacMillan, to do the story.

It only took a couple of days, after which MacMillan went home and Roger and I were asked to head for Munich and meet up with a different correspondent (and for the life of me I can’t remember who. Possibly Chris Wain) to cover a NATO exercise which was to take place the following weekend.

We had a couple of days to kill so, it being September in Munich, we went to the Okboberfest. (I know, I know)


We had a wander round and decided we wanted lunch. Under the circumstances, beer and sausage seemed appropriate. But every beer tent we went into was absolutely rammed.

Finally, we found one where we could at least sit down. We had some beer, as you see. <glugglugglugglug> We probably had some sausage too. Honest

Then we had another beer <glugglugglugglug>

And Roger turned to me and asked, “Do you feel in the slightest bit pissed?”

No. I didn’t. After two LITRES of beer.

That was why the tent was half empty. The Germans knew it was selling low alcohol beer. Funny thing was, though, we never realised. It tasted just like, well, beer. Clever brewers those Germans. It’s taken us thirty odd years to catch up

The NATO exercise was fun when we got to it as well but that’s another story

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