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A sip of Germany coming in ’02

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A German athletic organization had little trouble making arrangements to bring a sip (and taste) of Germany to Utah for the 2002 Winter Games.

LandesSportBund will create an Oktoberfest-like atmosphere in an auction house on Salt Lake City's west side, featuring food and drink from a region of the country called Thuringia. The beer garden and hospitality center will be the gathering place of German athletes and officials and will be open to the public.

Getting state permits to bring in a brand of dark beer brewed only in Thuringia proved not difficult despite Utah's tangle of liquor laws.

"Obviously we knew that the liquor laws in Germany and Utah are quite a bit different," said Michael Funke, financial officer for the Thuringian Olympic Committee.

But after meeting with the Utah Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control and "filling out a couple of forms," Funke said, the application was ready to go.

"It was really a very smooth procedure," he said.

The five-member state alcohol commission in July approved a series of three-day single-event permits that will allow the group to serve alcohol at the "Thuringen House" for the duration of the 17-day Olympics. The Germans will rent the Icehouse Gallery, 430 W. 300 North, for their hospitality center.

The only hitch in the process was finding a way to get the beer to Utah, an alcohol-control state. State law permits only DABC to lawfully import liquor, negating the Thuringen House's preference to ship it over in kegs. Serving beer in kegs is against Utah law, also.

The alcohol department found an East Coast distributor from which to buy the beer, solving that problem.

"We just have to switch from kegs to beer bottles," Funke said, adding it won't be a problem.

In addition to suds, the house will serve Thuringian dishes such as stuffed roulade with potato dumplings and red cabbage, bratwurst and pork chops. The house will open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, Funke said.

Funk also hopes to mix a little business with pleasure. He plans to invite Utah business and government leaders to mingle with their German counterparts.

E-mail: romboy@desnews.com