When the topic of Germany comes up, a few ideas oompapa to mind: beer, sausage, jack boots, and the polka, pretty much in that order. Put all of those thoughts together, add 10+ million people, four million quarts of beer, a million sausages, 400,000 roast chickens, and 50 tons of fish, and you’ve got Oktoberfest in Munich.
When the topic of Germany comes up, a few ideas oompapa to mind—beer, sausage, jack boots and the polka– pretty much in that order. Put all of those thoughts together, add 10+ million people, four million quarts of beer, a million sausages, 400,000 roast chickens, and fifty tons of fish and you’ve got Oktoberfest in Munich.
Oktoberfest in Germany begins the second-to-the-last Saturday in September and continues for sixteen days, ending the first week of October. The first beery revelers lifted their steins in 1810, to celebrate the October 10th marriage of Crown Price Ludwig I to Therese of Bavaria, and this tradition of welcoming fall with beer and grilled meats has continued ever since, with a couple of breaks for war. All this hoopla from a one day party, two hundred years past, that ended in divorce.
To get down Bavarian style, you will need three things: food, beer and music. If you know the polka, even better, but knowing how to dance and lederhosen are not requirements.
For the beers
For variety, I recommend three from Munich, one from just outside the town’s limits and one from the United States.
Left Hand Oktoberfest
Hands down one of the best Oktoberfest beer brewed in America. Make sure to serve it in a pint glass to enjoy its creamy, caramel-rich foam.
The Hofbräu-Festzelt alternates between being the biggest and the second biggest beer tent at Oktoberfest. The name, Hofbräu, roughly translate to “court-brewery house.” Owned by the state, yet they have a twitter feed. Crazy.
Paulaner Oktoberfest Marzen
This is the “Budweiser” of Oktoberfest marzen. Named after the founder of the Mendicant order, Francis of Paola, the Paulaner brewery produces a classic-style marzen primarily for U.S. beer drinkers.
Hacker-Pschorr Original Oktoberfest
This beer is brewed by the 200 lb. gorilla conglomerate of Hacker and Pschorr. Even though it is made by a giant, Hacker-Pschorr still uses spring water and a centuries-old strain of yeast unique to the brewery, resulting in tasty suds.
Ayinger Oktober Fest-Marzen
This beer is made 25km outside of Munich, therefore making it unwelcome at the “official” Oktoberfest, where only beer from Munich is allowed. Ayinger just throws their own party during the season at their place, with shorter lines and killer beer.
For the Music
The polka, Bohemian in origin, has mutated and migrated to Ireland, Mexico, Peruvia and the United States, though it is most often associated with Poland and Bavaria. The U.S. “experten” on the music is Joseph Siedlik, host of “The Big Joe Polka Show”, which has been on the air since the mid-sixties. The show is best described as Lawrence Welk does the polka.
For the Food
This is the easy part! Assemble your grills and your friends’ grills and pick up some fall comfort foods, such as homemade sausage from Belmont Butchery, whole chickens for beer can (or grilled) chicken, white fish, cabbage and apples, and coat with olive oil and seasonings before grilling. It is crucial to have three or more grills going at once and lots of cold beer for the chefs.