LA CROSSE, WIS — Galesville native and local hard apple cider brewer Lee Dickens was hospitalized in critical condition Thursday afternoon after a failed attempt to sneak in his home-brewed hard apple cider in the Oktoberfest Craft Beer Night.
The cider, called Dicken’s Cider, was smuggled onto the fest grounds under the disguised name “Definitely Real Man Beer.” The faux brew was first discovered upon its tapping by the oldest surviving festmaster Jack Martin.
“I was just walking around prosting the shit out of everybody when I caught my first whiff,” the 102-year-old Martin said.
Martin has earned the nickname “The Beerhound” by his festmaster colleagues as a play on Bloodhound because of his remarkable ability to sniff out and differentiate between the 75,000 different variations of alcohol from a distance of 1000 feet away.
“All of the sudden,” Martin continued, “I smelled that law-breaking abomination like when you drive by something that’s died on the side of the road on a hot summer day.”
Martin is referencing a German beer purity law called The Reinheitsgebot, a medieval rule which deemed that beer could contain nothing other than water, barley, hops and yeast. The law was originally put in place to prevent people from using poisonous roots, soot, and sawdust in their brews, but has evolved into include all forms brewing with fruit.
It was then that Martin sounded the alarm by blowing on the Oktoberfest alphorn to summon all the remaining 71 festmasters and fraus.
“It was like nothing I’ve ever seen,” said spectator Anthony Ostricki, “That Ricola horn blasted. The crowd went completely still, and then all these old people in lederhosen and dirndls raised their steins and started screaming like they were in pain. The next thing I know, all of them are flying through the crowd holding onto their steins like they were holding onto Thor’s hammer.”
Ostricki then described how the fest masters beat Dickens to a pulp with their full steins, somehow not spilling a drop in the process, before shoving him into the golden keg. The festmasters and fraus then turned to the stunned crowd, raised their steins, and yelled in unison, “Zum wohl!” The english translation being “To your health!”
“I was sure they were going to murder him,” claimed Ostricki, “but then I remembered it was way to early in the day for the obligatory Oktoberfest murder.”
Reporter Jonathon H. Dong contributed to this article.