They really put my pitiful attempts at iPhone photography to shame! So enjoy the photos, and Greg's reflections on Oktoberfest. If you weren't already inspired to make the effort to visit Munich during these 16 days of celebration every September/October, I'm sure you will be now.
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Last year, when my wife Rachel and I were planning an epic month-long tour of Europe, we decided to end on a high note and go to Munich for Oktoberfest. The trip of a lifetime topped off by three days at the festival of a lifetime. Let me say now, I was not disappointed. Oktoberfest survival guide in hand [ http://www.underthelindentrees.com/home/in-anticipation-of-the-wiesn-an-oktoberfest-primer ], we ate and drank beer and sang drinking songs to our hearts’ content. Being at the Wiesn for the tapping of the first keg of Oktoberfestbier by the mayor was quite a time. The beer is carted in by the barrel-load, and the celebration is kicked off by a marching band and a countdown as enthusiastic as New Year’s Eve. It took a while to get our first maße that opening day, but as I sit here writing this, beer in hand, I remember it as one of our most enjoyable times in Europe.
What makes this beer so special?
I recently cracked open a bottle of Paulaner with a friend who had no idea about why it was a stand-out from all of the other märzen, fall, autumn, and “Oktoberfest” beers out there. He remarked that, although tasty, the beer was significantly lighter than the Sam Adams Oktoberfest he had just enjoyed. I reminded him, “Yeah, but you’re not sessioning three maße of it!”
Now, don’t get me wrong. There are TONS of breweries out there that make Oktoberfestbiers, and many do it very well. But only six are authentic: Hofbräu, Löwenbräu, Spatenbräu, Augustiner-Bräu, Paulaner, and Hacker-Pschorr-Bräu. Those six are the only breweries legally allowed to serve beer at Oktoberfest and call their beer “Oktoberfestbier.”
They were the breweries that made beer for the first Oktoberfest celebration that actually included beer!
Wait—what’s that? Oktoberfest wasn’t always about the beer?!
Nope. Originally, it was a marriage celebration for King Ludwig I, and there was (gasp!) NO BEER!!! There was some pretty sweet horse racing atTheresienwiese, though! So good, in fact, that it was repeated every year, and eventually places popped up where people could buy brew. The beer that was brewed in March (hence the name Märzen) and stored until fall had to be drunk, so Oktoberfest sort of fit the bill! The horses went, the beer stayed, and Oktoberfest as we know it was born.
Der Spiegl reported that last year, people at the Wiesn drank over 6.7 million liters of beer! [http://www.spiegel.de/international/zeitgeist/munich-oktoberfest-visitors-drank-6-7-million-liters-of-beer-in-2013-a-926432.html ] With all of that beer flowing, it can be difficult to remember to pace yourself. If you don’t, you run the risk of becoming a bierlichen, or “beer corpse”—one of the unfortunate collapsed souls that drinks way too much. The beer is excellent, but be sure you can remember your experience the following day!
Make an experience of it!
If you love beer and a good time, but haven’t been to Oktoberfest yet, do yourself a favor: buy some tracht [http://www.underthelindentrees.com/home/dirndl-shopping-in-munich ] and get going!
And for the love, figure out what they put in the ochsen-bratwurst…that stuff is addicting…