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From Germany to Korea, love for beer continues

Grand Hilton Seoul’s Bernhard Brender preps for Oktoberfest

Grand Hilton Seoul is gearing up for its annual beer festival, Oktoberfest, bringing Germany’s renowned beer festival to the heart of Seoul.

This year’s festival will be held on Sept. 8 at the hotel’s convention center.

The hotel’s General Manager Bernhard Brender, a German native, started the tradition in 2007, hosting the local version of Oktoberfest every year since then. 

General Manager Bernhard Brender of Grand Hilton Seoul (By Park Hyun-koo / The Korea Herald)
General Manager Bernhard Brender of Grand Hilton Seoul (By Park Hyun-koo / The Korea Herald)

“It’s all about the originality,” Brender told The Korea Herald at his office.

Though the festival here takes place in a convention center, not in a tent, Brender stressed that it is as authentic as the original one held in Munich.

“An Oktoberfest is natural. It is a tradition, the same from that of the last year. It is a time to respect the tradition,” Brender said.

“People expect to have the best draft beer at the Oktoberfest. The music will be always the same, traditional German music. The food, of course, including sausages and more, are the same.” 

Oktoberfest in Seoul (Grand Hilton Seoul)
Oktoberfest in Seoul (Grand Hilton Seoul)

Brender has high expectations for Anton Band, which is flying in from Munich to perform.

“Many ask, ‘Why Oktoberfest in September?’ But we are inviting a band from Munich. The band starts performing by the end of September in Germany, so we have to make it earlier to have the live band here. We cannot turn on a tape recorder,” he said.

Brender did not hesitate to show his love for beer.

“I love beer, all kinds of beer. If you are thirsty, any beer is good. After working out, playing tennis or golf, you welcome any type of beer,” he said. “This year, Ayinger Oktoberfest Marzen beer will be on the tap, marking the first time it is being introduced to the Korean public. It is a seasonal beer produced specially for Munich’s Oktoberfest, which starts to be brewed in March.”

Ayinger Oktoberfest Marzen beer is characterized by a deep golden color tinted with amber. It has a slightly sweet but rich flavor that comes from refined malt, Brender said.

With more than 54 years of experience as an hotelier, Brender is confident that this year’s festival will be a success. The annual event has gathered more than 1,000 guests each year, including employees of German companies’ local units.

“Safety and security comes as the No. 1 (priority),” he said. “This is a peaceful gathering. It’s a night when people meet themselves.”

He compared the German event to Korea’s Chuseok holiday.

“People in southern Germany gather in Munich during the festival to spend time with their family and friends, who have been separated because of studies, work and so forth,” he said. “Isn’t it similar to Korea’s Chuseok where families and relatives gather in their hometown to share food and spend time with each other?”

Tickets for the festival are sold at 150,000 each. For more information, visit the hotel’s official website at or call (02) 2287-7456.

By Im Eun-byel (