Oktoberfest is literally my favorite holiday of the year. Sure, Christmas is great with the gifts, Thanksgiving is wonderful as well with all the food and time spent with family, but these holidays both lack the ability to wake up with a sore arm from hoisting large beers repeatedly the night before! Prost!!!! It may seem a bit boozy, and it is, but it is awesome and as such I’ll continue to love it for what it is…a time-honored tradition in my garage bar speakeasy and around the world!
Oktoberfest this year has even more relevance and importance given the celebration was cancelled the last two years (err…not exactly at my establishment, but the other “real” one got nixed vis-à-vis covid). Dating back to 1810, the pandemic wasn't the first time the festival has been cancelled - in fact according to its official website, Oktoberfest has been cancelled 26 times, including in 1813 due to fighting with Napoleon. Other cancellations include the likes of wars, cholera and even inflation....good thing it was "transitory."
What is Oktoberfest?
Oktoberfest is a celebration of German culture known around the world. When it began over 200 years ago, it was at first, a celebration of marriage between Bavarian royalty whose names I dare not try to pronounce or write. It was at the time a five-day event in which citizens in Munich joined in the celebration, eating and drinking all they could with the backdrop of music and parades. Yes, it is not all about beer, though, mostly.
Fun fact: In 2014, 1.7 million gallons (7.7 million liters) of Oktoberfest beer was served during the festival, making it the year where the most beer was consumed.
What is an Oktoberfest Beer?
Märzen or Märzenbier is a lager with origins in Bavaria. In 1553 an ordinance in Bavaria decreed that beer may only be brewed between the 29th of September and the 23rd of April given safety concerns with boiling the mash during the hot summer months. The Märzen beer historically, would be brewed in March and had more hops, malt and alcohol so that the beer would last over the months ahead when no brewing was allowed. This beer would be kept in a cellar over the warm summer months and then served at Oktoberfest. Common names for Märzen beer include Festbier, Märzenbier, Oktoberfestbier and Wiener Märzen.
Pro tip: If you're going to get a keg of Oktoberfest beer from Germany, make sure you have the right keg coupler and that your kegerator can accommodate the size as some kegs run taller than here in the U.S. Worst case, you can always float it college style! You can pick up a "A System Keg Coupler" linked in the shop.
When is Oktoberfest?
Oktoberfest occurs from Saturday September 17th to Monday October 3rd, 2022. Yes, you read that right, Oktoberfest starts in September. It is likely one of the biggest misnomers ever. Interestingly, it was originally in October only, but as the festival grew in size and popularity, the dates began to creep into September given moving the other direction on the calendar would mean shorter days and colder weather. At the start of Oktoberfest, at exactly 12:00 clock the lord mayor opens the first barrel of beer with the Bavarian exclamation, "O'zapft is!" meaning "it has been tapped!" or also equating to "party time!" and then Oktoberfest is declared opened, followed by a dozen gunshots which signals it’s time to start serving beer!
Given I have some practice in this department, I thought I'd share some odds and ends that are important for pulling off a great Oktoberfest party. These are all staple items that you should plan on getting and/or making to set the perfect scene this Oktoberfest.
When you see pictures of the beer tents and folks having fun, you most often see the traditional one-liter beer steins which hold essentially three beers. I typically buy a few more each year as my party continues to get bigger and bigger. These are the real deal and clinking two of these together feels pretty amazing. Prost!
You're clearly going to need to up your Bavarian game. These pendant flags come out every year in my garage and encircle the whole ceiling.
At this point you might as well get a Bavarian flag to hang as well. I have this same one and for a short period of time, I take down the Texas flag that hangs proudly in my garage and replace it with this. Now that's saying something!!!
Five Foods You Need for any Oktoberfest Party
Although beer tends to take center stage at Oktoberfest, we all like to eat and having some basic Oktoberfest fare is quintessential to the experience. I've created a list, with links to recipes below that will make any Oktoberfest gathering a huge hit.
Würstl refers to Bavarian sausages and there's a variety you can likely get at just about any supermarket. They're great on their own, or sautéed with bacon and sauerkraut. If you're serving würstl make sure you've got mustard to go along with!
Brezen is a staple Oktoberfest food and they go amazingly well with beer, use a great recipe and plan to roll up your sleeves and get messy - they're worth it!!
Obatzda or beer cheese dip is a must if you're making Brezen, it comes together in about ten minutes tops and is always a crowd pleaser. How can you go wrong mixing cheese and beer? Find the recipe here.
Reiberdatschi (Potato Pancakes) are somewhat new to me, but I have a relative who introduced them to me not as Reiberdatschi but as latkes (which are quite similar) and I'm a huge fan. Use this recipe and serve with apple sauce.
Sauerkraut goes with just about everything Oktoberfest, so plan to have some.
Join the Party
Oktoberfest is a gathering of people, the world over, coming together to celebrate and have a great time together. Bourboneur is at its core, all about bringing people together - just on a smaller scale. Join our community and become a Bourboneur by connecting with us on Instagram and Facebook!!!!