'Oktoberfest' not a brew that travels easily

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THE ENGLISH found out last night why only the Americans have tried to hijack the Munich beer festival in the last 182 years.

The Oktoberfest has been exported for only the second time in its history, for five days to a marquee in Battersea Park, south London, amid hopes that the old adversaries had finally found something in common. But alas, it was not to be. Both England and Germany like their beer, but in the end that's not enough. 'The sauerkraut wasn't cooked at all,' Donald Jels, a carpenter, said. 'And I can't relate to the size of this beer mug. And as for the toilets, they're pretty bad.'

And it had all started so promisingly. An estimated 3,000 people had set out to prove that there is nothing wrong with Anglo-German relations that a few beers can not put right. Baroness Thatcher and Lord Ridley might not have been in favour, but there was no reason why a beer-loving country like ours would not take it to their heart. But oh dear, that sauerkraut . . .

The organisers tried to create a Bavarian family atmosphere with waitresses in traditional costumes and German food, including bratwurst and pigs on spits. It has been an expensive venture, sterling's collapse had already increased the original pounds 560,000 bill by pounds 80,000 - but the organiser, Cindy Keen, 27, managing director of Keen To Entertain, considered it a good investment. She had long wanted to bring the event to England.

The US staged the festival 10 years ago but no other country had capitalised on its world-wide reputation. The London event may prove a success, but German-beer enthusiasts Simon Hardy, 28, and Paul Ribbins, 26, were not impressed. Mr Hardy said: 'It's a good idea but they haven't got it right.' They stumbled out of the marquee, asking: 'Where's the nearest pub?'

(Photograph omitted)