The world’s biggest beer festival is back this September, gearing up to consume well over 7 million litres of beer over a 17 day period. This isn’t your everyday beer however as the six big Munchner Breweries of Augustiner, Hacker-Pschorr, Hofbrau, Lowenbrau, Paulaner and Spaten all produce full strength versions of their signature world class lagers. Of course all the beer is brewed in accordance with the German Purity Law. Alternatively if you thought it may be a nice weekend away to get your hands on some cheap German beer, than you may want to avoid the 10€ a litre price of Oktoberfest and shop online instead. However, Oktoberfest is all about the experience and should definitely be on your bucket list but how did it come to be the massive Volksfest (Beer festival and Carnival) it is today, I hear you exclaim? Well I’m glad you asked, so let Beers Of Europe lay down a bit about the history of the festival and show you exactly what it has to offer.
Oktoberfest was given a birth fit for a king, a future king that is. You see, it started with a royal wedding back in 1810 between Prince Ludwig and Princess Therese on the 12th of October. Following the ceremony, the people of Munich were invited to celebrate on the fields in front of the city gates, subsequently called ‘Theresienwiese’ to honour the Princess and it is where the festival is still held to this day. The festival carried on for 5 days, finishing with a horse race and was such a success, they decided to repeat the feat the next year, but with a delightful agricultural show. Over the next few decades, a larger variety of entertainment was showcased at the festival. The first sets of swings and carousels were established while small beer stands became popular. It took until 1896 for the stands to be replaced by beer tents, backed by the brewers, with the rest of the grounds filled by fairground amusements. It was moved back to begin in September in the late 19th century to embrace the longer and warmer evenings. It has grown exponentially over the couple of centuries only missing 24 years in its history, due to war or disease.
The festival has also extended in length from the first Oktoberfest lasting 5 days, it now lasts from the third Saturday in September through to the first Sunday of October, to accommodate the demand for reservations in the beer halls. New traditions have also been implemented in the last few decades, with the Mayor of Munich tapping the first keg at noon on the opening day of the festival. More recently, many visitors dress up in traditional outfits, most noticeably Lederhosen, so much so that the official Oktoberfest website sells replicas of the German wear. There is also a large variety of stereotypical German foods on sale, such as pretzels, schnitzel and sauerkraut to enjoy with your stein. There are 14 Large Tents and around 19 smaller tents at the festival, each with their own itinerary but all selling at least one of the six Oktoberfest beers. The largest tents, backed by the Munchner brewers are; Hofbräu-Festzelt, Hacker-Festzelt, Löwenbräu-Festhalle, Augustiner-Festhalle, Ochsenbraterei (Spaten) and Winzerer Fähndl (Paulaner).
Celebrating its 183rd year in 2016, Oktoberfest is bigger and better than ever before. Such heritage and tradition lay the foundations for years to come. The demand for the world’s largest beer festival will always be present and you’re invited whether it be in Munich or here at Beers of Europe.