It’s September, leaves are starting to change hues, the air has become crisper and well you guessed it — people around the globe are gearing up for Oktoberfest. It’s that special time of year when we celebrate our beloved frosty morsel, beer. We have Germany to thank for this 16-day fair of pure bliss for any beer enthusiast. This Bavarian tradition has also carried over into the states.
The original Oktoberfest takes places in Munich, Bavaria, Germany starting Saturday, September 18th running through October 3rd. The festivities start at 12 noon, when the lord mayor will tap the first keg.
Oktoberfest got its start in 1810 when it celebrated the October 12th marriage of Bavarian Crown Prince Ludwig. The celebration was open to all of Munich’s residents, with the main entertainment being that of horse races. Anniversary celebrations began annually and the tradition has held through to modern day. Many times throughout the years Oktoberfest was cancelled due to war and cholera epidemics.
The beer that is herald at Oktoberfest comes from a stronger, darker variety known as Marzen. With an alcohol content that can reach 6% Marzen can satisfy almost any beer connoisseur taste. The brew is bottom-fermented, and lagered for a minimum of 30 days.
Staying true to form, the Germans don’t mess around when it comes to their beer – this means adhering to strict standards, which have been in place since 1516. These standards are called Reinheitsgebot – which label four ingredients (malt, yeast, barely, hops) allowed in the beer.
Once inside the gates, there are 34 different beer tents to choose from. Reservations are not mandatory however the tents get packed quickly so make sure you plan your time accordingly. Only those sitting down with a seat can be served. Some of the well known tents around the fair include: The Schottenhamel Tent, The Käfer Wiesn-Schänke Tent, The Augustiner Tent and The Hofbräu Tent.
The Schottenhamel Tent: This tent was the start of it all. Initiated by post-war mayor Thomas Wimmer, Oktoberfest had its world famous opening hour here. The “Schottenhamel” is known to be youthful in nature and can easily seat 10,000 people. This beer tent is the opening site of Oktoberfest on September 18th, at 12pm sharp. Once the mayor has tapped the keg, he yells out, “Ozapft is” meaning “it is tapped” thus marking that official start of Oktoberfest. Späten Franzikaner Bräu is the beer of choice. For reservations, call 089-5446-9310.
The Käfer Wiesn-Schänke Tent: The particular tent is a celeb favorite, known for its cozy interiors and superior food this is also one of the only tents open past midnight. The Käfer Wiesn-Schänke Tent serves Paulaner beer. For reservations, call 089-416-8356.
The Augustiner Tent: The Augustiner Tent is known to be the ‘friendliest’ tent. Every Tuesday the Augustiner hosts Childrens’ Day, encouraging a family-friendly atmosphere among the party. This tent holds 6,000 people inside and 2,500 outside. Augustiner beer is served. For reservations, call 089-2318-3266.
The Hofbräu Tent: This tent is Oktoberfests’ biggest, seating nearly 10,000 beer enthusiasts inside alone. Over the 16 day festival Hofbräu Tent is rumored to serve over a half million liters of beer. This tent is the only one of its kind that will serve you without having a seat. Reservations can be made through the Hofbräu Oktoberfest website.
Getting to Munich
International Phone: 1-800-538-2929
Delta Air Lines
If hopping on a plane across country isn’t feasible for you, Oktoberfest is hugely celebrated across the states. From Los Angeles to New York, cities around the nation are lifting their glasses in honor of this German tradition.
Oktoberfest around the nation:
Oktoberfest – Los Angeles
Oktoberfest – Washington
Oktoberfest – Colorado
Oktoberfest – San Francisco
Oktoberfest – Arizona