Bierkeller: A review

BIERKELLER, like the May Ball; attempting the Hulk burger; and walking up Constitution Hill, has become a supposed bucket-list item for all Aberystwyth students – an event not to be missed before your three years are up. In a student town where phrases such as ‘varied’ and ‘unpredictable’ can rarely be applied to the night life, it is unsurprising that even the most minor of transformations to the Union will draw in the masses. And masses there certainly were. This year’s (first) Bierkeller sold out almost two weeks before the event and, after arriving fifteen minutes or so before the event was set to start, the main room was filled with students wearing a selection of ‘Bavarian Man’ and ‘Bavarian Wench’ costumes that ranged from the full deal from costume sites and fancy dress shops to simply popping on suspenders over a shirt or re-using a Halloween Little Red Riding Hood costume.

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Despite the crowds, the bar remained very accessible throughout the night and the drink prices were good, though those unlucky enough not to have brought a two-pint stein with them on the night had to fork out £8.50 before even purchasing drinks. A stein-full of Gaymers cider and black was £4, and this by far seemed to be the most popular drink, as the tables were lined with steins filled with purple cider with only the occasional beer. In a group of six we managed to find some seats at the back, seats we regularly had to awkwardly climb out of if anyone along the line of tables needed to get out. The room had been decorated with German flags and traditional German folk music was played until the musicians appeared. Union workers occasionally appeared on the stage and mimed along to a Peter Dickson-style voice over telling us not to stand on the tables.

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‘The Amazing Bavarian Stompers’ – a comic, British oompah band – had the crowd banging on tables before they even entered. Though somewhat inaudible at the back, the band cracked jokes, had members of the audience try a turn at the oompah and had us either standing on our chairs or linking arms and swaying between every number. As well as classic beer festival songs such as ‘Hofbrauhaus-Lied’ the band also sang traditional songs such as ‘Daisy Bell’ and had us chanting ‘Oggy Oggy Oggy’ throughout the night. The whole thing had as much authenticity as our Gaymers ciders and shop bought Bavarian costumes – but that was hardly the point. Though those of us in the back seats were far less excitable than those at the front, the Stompers engaged with the cider-fuelled mass ahead of them with humour and energy. Persuading students to wear lederhosen and count to three in German and inspiring them to drunkenly organise a flat trip to Oktoberfest that will inevitably fall through perhaps fills a certain quota for cultural appropriation for students across the country. Perhaps it is a right-of-passage to don the Bavarian costume and drink from a glass that holds not one but two pints of alcohol. Though we might find a bit more authenticity, and perhaps a more genuine connection to the culture we’re trying to celebrate, if the Union were to throw a Welsh equivalent of the German ‘bierkeller’ – celebrating Welsh folk music and Welsh beer and cider. Though perhaps ‘selar cwrw’ doesn’t have the same ring to it.

The event unfortunately ended at 11pm, and we were quickly ushered out. But despite only entertaining us for around two hours, the Stompers along with the cheap drinks and plenty of table banging kept this Bierkeller as enjoyable as ever. There is now another Bierkeller event set for 28/02/15 and you can buy tickets here.