Molloys Guide to Oktoberfest

At Molloys we're all about celebrating great beers, and there are few greater beer celebrations than Munich's Oktoberfest. We now stock five of the six official Oktoberfest beers, so pick some up, find a pretzel and get in the spirit...

What is it?

Oktoberfest is an annual 16 day festival held in Munich, Germany. It takes place in late September and ends on the first Sunday of October. Not only is Oktoberfest probably the most famous event in Germany, it is also the worlds largest fair, attracting over 6 million visitors.
Though the focus often seems to be on great beer, that's only a part of a festival celebrating all things Bavarian.

History

On October 12, 1810, Crown Prince Ludwig married Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen and invited the citizens of Munich along to take part in the festivities.
At the end of the festivities there was a horse-racing event to celebrate all of Bavaria. This horse-racing was repeated and became Oktoberfest.
To take advantage of better weather, the festival was moved to the end of September (hence Oktoberfest in September.)
By 1960, horse-racing was no longer part of the festival and the current modern Oktoberfest began to emerge, along with rising international popularity as a tourist event.

Beers

Germany is famous for its beers and the Reinheitsgebot (German beer purity law,) but Oktoberfest kicks it up another notch.
Not only must the beers follow the Reinheitsgebot, but they must also must brew within the city limits of Munich (which is why Erdinger isn't in) and must also be of a certain strength (about 6% or so.)

The six breweries are:

  • Augustiner-Brau
  • Hacker-Pschorr-Brau
  • Lowenbrau
  • Paulaner-Brau
  • Spatenbrau
  • Staatliches Hofbrau-Munchen
The special Oktoberfest brew is made each year, with each batch being a bit different from one year to the next. The beers are typically stronger with a richer flavour.
If you fancy trying them, Molloys Liquor Stores now stock all but the Augustiner Oktoberfest.

Some Handy Vocab

"Die Wiesn" is what the locals call Oktoberfest, after the nickname for the location where it takes place.
"Maß" is the 1 litre stein of beer
"Bierleichen" or 'beer corpses' is the nickname given to those people who pass out from too much beer.
"O' zapft is!" means "it's tapped" and is shouted by the Mayor as he taps the first keg of the festival.
"Dirndl" the traditional costume often worn by Bavarian women at the festival (making carrying 8 litres of beer even more impressive)
"Lederhosen" the traditional leather trouser costume often worn by Bavarian men at the festival.
"Brezeln" is the German for pretzels, delicious salty pretzels.
"Grüß Gott" is an Bavarian form of greeting, translated as "greet god"

Random Bits

  • Though it's often seen as very touristy, the actual spread is usually about 70% locals and 30% tourists.
  • There are currently 14 large tents and 20 small tents, each with a character of their own.
  • A "quiet Oktoberfest" policy was developed in 2005 to accommodate older patrons. This means that no loud music can be played before 6pm.
  • 1881 saw the first booths selling bratwurst (the delicious roast German sausages)
  • In 2010, 69,293 pork knuckles were consumed.
  • The first glass beer mugs were used in 1892