By Aspen Pflughoeft
From The Kansas City Star
Oktoberfest is back. The world’s largest folk festival—famous for its beer—is in full swing in Munich, Germany, and around the globe, according to the festival’s official website.
Oktoberfest kicked off on September 17 and continues until October 3, festival organizers said.
Here’s everything you need to know to celebrate Oktoberfest like a local—no matter where you are.
The Basics (And Not-so-Basics) of Oktoberfest
Oktoberfest—also called Wiesn—began as a royal wedding celebration and horse race in 1810 in Munich, a southern city in the German state of Bavaria, organizers say. People had so much fun that the celebration became an annual event that, over the years, evolved into the festival it is today.
The first Oktoberfest took place in mid-October. Since then, October’s colder weather has prompted the celebration to begin earlier in the year, organizers say.
Munich’s local Oktoberfest was canceled in 2020 and 2021 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but the festival returns in full force this year.
The Best (and Only) Oktoberfest Beers
Oktoberfest beers are different from regular beers, festival organizers explain. Munich allows only six official Oktoberfest brews to be served—all local, all around 6 percent alcohol content, and all stronger than regular beer.
Ranked from easiest to hardest to find in the United States, the official Oktoberfest beers include:
- Paulaner’s Oktoberfest
- Hofbräu’s Oktoberfestbier
- Hacker-Pschorr’s Oktoberfest Märzen
- Spaten’s Oktoberfest Ur-Märzen
- Augustiner’s Oktoberfestbier
- Löwenbräu’s Oktoberfestbier
Some American breweries have their own takes on Oktoberfest beers, sometimes called “Octoberfest” or “Octoberfest-style,” Hop Culture says. These seasonal American beers include:
- Blue Moon’s Harvest Pumpkin Wheat
- Leinenkugel’s Oktoberfest
- Samuel Adams’ Octoberfest
Many local or regional breweries also make Oktoberfest-style beers.
How (Not to) Drink Your Beer
Beer-drinking at Oktoberfest has a specific set of manners, according to the event’s organizers.
What you should do:
- Drink from a 1-liter glass, known as a “mass,” according to Culture Trip.
- Grab your glass by the handle when you raise it up, organizers say.
- Cheers by raising your mug in the air, setting or tapping it down on the table, and then drinking.
- Drink inside or under a tent or beer garden, not on the street.
What you should not do:
- Don’t drink the “noagerl,” the last sip of beer in the glass, organizers say. Don’t drink this and don’t mix it with fresh beer since it’s warm and assumed to be full of saliva.
- Don’t chug. “Only show-offs and people in need of recognition chug their mass down in one gulp,” organizers say. This “stupidity … is forbidden.”
- Don’t drink beer out of a shoe. “This is very unhygienic,” event organizers say.
- Most important: Remember that Oktoberfest is “a folk festival and not a contest for binge drinking,” organizers say.
Try These Oktoberfest (Style) Foods
Oktoberfest boasts other delicious German dishes and traditional Bavarian staples, event organizers say. These include:
- Roasted chicken
- Pork schnitzel (a pork tenderloin breaded and fried)
- Cheese spaetzle (essentially, German macaroni and cheese)
- Weisswurst sausage (a type of German sausage)
- Corn on the cob
- Giant pretzels
- Gingerbread hearts (usually with heartfelt messages in frosting)
Many of these foods can be found at German restaurants or pubs in the United States, and similar dishes also exist in American cuisine.
When (hoping to be) in Munich:
Many Oktoberfest attendees dress in traditional Bavarian-style attire, Wiesn organizers say. This means lederhosen, a specific type of leather pants, for men and dirndl, a dress worn with a bodice and apron, for women.
The festival begins when the mayor of Munich taps the first keg and shouts “O’zapft is,” meaning “it’s tapped” in Bavarian, organizers say.
The fairgrounds in Munich have 17 large tents and 21 smaller tents where people gather to drink beer and celebrate, the website says. In past years, the festival has drawn about 6 million visitors who drink about 7.7 million liters (about 2 million gallons) of beer, organizers say.
The celebration also includes parades, music, and traditional dances, the website says.
Local Oktoberfest celebrations take place across the United States, and German-themed restaurants or pubs are likely to host an event, Culture Trip reported.
If not, “have your own party,” the travel site says.
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