Why do Germans sing West Virginia’s praises and dis Hawai’i every year at Oktoberfest?

1 10 2009

Oktoberfest is the world’s largest fair and one of the best festivals in Germany. Every year, over 6 million visitors from all over the world come to Munich to drink beer, eat sausage and join together in song.

During the sixteen-day festival, Bavarian Oompah bands fill the air with folk music, traditional German drinking songs and a mismatched collection of popular songs from all over the world.

Sure, there are a lot of traditional favorites, like Ein Prosit and Lili Marleen.

But the Oktoberfest crowds are no longer content to sing O München, Mein München. They’ve branched out!

Here is a rousing chorus of Country Road, Take Me Home.


The German Oktoberfest crowds don’t stop with praising West Virginia.

They go on to sing about the 50th State, in a way that is not so flattering. This song is called Es Gibt Kein Bier auf Hawaii, which means “there is no beer in Hawaii.”

Yes, they’re talkin’ smack about Hawai’i beer.

It wasn’t true when it got started in the 1950s. The original Primo beer began brewing in 1898, remember?

Yet they’re still at it! Still singing Es Gibt Kein Bier auf Hawaii…

Here are the words to the chorus:

Es gibt kein Bier auf Hawaii, es gibt kein Bier;
drum fahr’ ich nicht nach Hawaii, drum bleib’ ich hier.
Es ist so heiß auf Hawaii, kein kühler Fleck,
und nur vom Hula Hula geht der Durst nicht weg.

What exactly are the German Oktoberfest revelers singing with such forceful conviction (and such poor spelling)?

Roughly translated, it’s a big lie!

There’s no beer in Hawai’i, you’ll find no beer,
so I won’t go to Hawai’i, I’ll rather stay here.
It is so hot in Hawaii, no cool place to stay,
and just doing the hula won’t make the thirst go away

Anyone who’s traveled to the German speaking world — Germany, Austria and Switzerland — during any of the beer festivals or winter carnivals has heard this song sung in the beer tents. What’s more, folks over there are totally convinced it’s true.

Just because Hawai’i is a small state doesn’t mean we have to take things lying down. PBS Hawai’i, for example, is standing up for the Hawaiian language. “Our management team at PBS Hawaii made an easy call today,” blogged president and CEO Leslie Wilcox. “We decided to tell the producers of a national series that we won’t air a particular episode unless they re-do their narration, to pronounce key Hawaiian words correctly.”

We ask the friends of Hawai’i brewing to help us stand up for local Hawai’i beer.

Hawai’i Nui Brewing is sponsoring a video project for Oktoberfest 2010. Let’s rewrite that song! Let’s remake that video!

Here is a link to the call for participation. Follow @HawaiiNuiBrew on Twitter for updates.

This is an example of what’s popular in 2009. Let’s make something mo betta!





4 responses

1 10 2009
Keola Donaghy

He mau pia ʻono nō ko Hawai‘i (Hawai‘i has delicious beers)
He mau pia ʻono ʻiʻo nō (It has truly delicious beers)
He po‘e naʻaupo ko Kelemānia (While Germany is inhabited by ignorant people)
Koʻekoʻe ka ʻāina, koʻekoʻe ka pia (The land and beers are both cold and tasteless)

1 10 2009
Hawai‘i Has No Beer? – Culture Hacks

[…] Aloha IBU blog has an interesting post with links to videos of people in Germany during Octoberfest, and they are lamenting the lack […]

29 10 2009
Es Gibt Kein Bier auf Hawaii? Update on the Oktoberfest song project « ALOHA IBU

[…] month of October is just about over and done, and with it, the German Oktoberfest drinking song, Es Gibt Kein Bier auf Hawaii, “There is no beer in […]

4 09 2011

This is a late addition, I know. I am the leader of the Royal Elephant Brass Band, a seven-member group that will play authentic Oktoberfest music in – Honolulu. Find us on FaceBook. We *do* plan to play this tune at all six upcoming events. :-)

And prove it wrong!!!!

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