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Netflix's Oktoberfest drama tastes like Peaky Blinders plus beer

Pour a glass of deliciously dark new Netflix show Oktoberfest: Beer and Blood, brewed from lust and murder.

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- 02:58
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Oktoberfest: Beer and Blood taps a frothy keg of vengeance and desire.

Netflix

What are the ingredients for a perfectly-brewed beer? At Oktoberfest, all you need is hops, yeast, water, lust, betrayal and murder. Bottoms up!

Oktoberfest: Beer and Blood is Netflix's gleefully dark new drama about the early years of the famous beer festival. It isn't a documentary or a staid period story -- instead it's packed with buttoned-up old-timey folk being deliciously nasty to each other in a razor-sharp romp through the cut-throat world of beer brewing which tastes like Peaky Blinders with a creamy foam head. Deadwood in lederhosen. Boardwalk Empire with subtitles.

Streaming on Netflix Oct. 1, Beer and Blood opens in 1900 with the city of Munich about to hold its famous celebration of Germany's revered beer-brewing tradition. But there's a new face in town with bold new ideas. Mr. Prank is an outsider with a cunning plan: to replace small tasting booths with a vast beer palace holding 6,000 revelers. As he bullies his way into Munich society and onto the Oktoberfest map, only one rival stands in his way: the small but stubborn family-run Devil's Brew brewing outfit. And when the beer flows, so does the blood...

From a startlingly unexpected opening image to a shot of candy floss melting away in a blood-filled puddle as childhood innocence is brutally swept away, Beer and Blood is packed with striking imagery. Director Hannu Salonen, cinematographer Felix Cramer and their crew fill the screen with swaggering visual style, making use of deep shadows and vertiginous drone shots over epic sweeping vistas. The visuals evoke a luxurious society where pitiless savagery lurks beneath the stiff collars and stiffer mustaches. Everyone's greedy and scheming and dangerous in a show that's lurid and knowing and cheerfully venal. Cheers!

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Order another round of violence and deception this Oktoberfest.

Netflix

While it's not as mind-bending as Netflix's acclaimed German drama Dark -- also written by Beer and Blood co-creator Ronny Schalk -- the bustling cast of characters in the opening episode takes a bit of concentration. But the various conflicts soon become clear as the characters plot their way into each others' lives. It's loosely based on the true story of Georg Lang, an out-of-towner who pioneered the cavernous beer tents we associate with Oktoberfest today. But it's a history of beer brewing in the same way Breaking Bad is a chemistry lesson.   

As the ambitious and devious brewer Mr. Prank, Misel Maticevic towers over the early episodes. But a subplot involving his daughter and her mysterious chaperone is absorbingly played by Mercedes Müller and Brigitte Hobmeier, two women with their own secrets circling each other in a zesty battle of wills. And Martina Gedeck, who you may have seen in 2006 Oscar winner The Lives of Others, gives a delightfully steely performance as a brewing matriarch who refuses to tap out.

One of the main themes in this turn-of-the-century story is old versus new: Whether it's son trying to persuade father to switch from kegs to bottled beer, or ruthless outsider dragging Oktoberfest into a new century no matter who he has to hurt, tradition and modernity are pitched against each other -- violently, of course.

Crisp and refreshing and sure to leave you dizzy -- or maybe with a sore head -- Oktoberfest: Beer and Blood is a tasty tall glass of greed, desire and ruthless manipulation. Bartender: keep 'em coming!

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