Even if you have heard of Oktoberfest (not oCtoberfest), odds are the meaning and history of the event has escaped your attention and it just another excuse to drink up and flee sobriety.  I would wager that most folks’ understanding of Oktoberfest most closesy resembles the portrayal in the 2006 film Beer Fest (yes, I watched, no I will not watch it again).  As the seasonal brews are a flowin’, I thought it fitting to do the holiday justice here on THFB.

Every year towards the end of September and into Early October in the Bavarian capitol–Munich, Germany–the long awaited festival (the world’s largest…it attracts some six million beer guzzlers) is held for a glorious sixteen days.  Oktoberfest was first held on October 12, 1810 in commemoration of the Crown Prince Ludwig (later King Ludwig I) marriage to Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen (namesake of the Theresienwiese festival grounds that hosts the event).  While this first festival featured a horse race, over time the festival was lengthened an pushed forward (to accommodate the good weather). The event has grown to epic proportions.  Every year at Oktoberfest 8000 Bavarians in typical/historic dress, walk from Maximilian Street, through the center of Munich, to the Oktoberfest.

The beers of Oktoberfest are referred to as Oktoberfestbiers.  The same six breweries have provided the beer since 1818:   Spaten, Löwenbräu, Augustiner, Hofbräu, and Hacker-Pschorr.  Traditional Oktoberfestbiers were of a style called Marzen.  They would have been brewed in March and allowed to slow ferment over the summer months.  Originally they would have been a dark lager.  These days, however, the beer of choice at the Bavarian Festival is a pale lager.

There is a certain mystical power that comes with the ambiance of drinking a beer in the proper setting that makes it taste much better than it is in reality.  I recall drinking a warm, canned, Croatian Lager on a train as I travelled through the Balkan mountains.  Had I not been in that setting, I most likely would have spewed the wretched beer all over myself, but on that train it was magnificent.

Thus said, someday I will make it Munich in late September so that my taste buds can enjoy a Hofbräu Oktoberfestbier in its native glory.  Until then I will have to make due at Toledo’s first annual one day festival, or if I feel adventurous enough, head south to Cincinnati’s impressive Oktoberfest-Zinzinnati, or, just sit in my living room with a brew an watch the festivities via live Oktoberfest Webcam.  Check out your cities online events calendar, and I am sure you’ll find a local celebration of some sort.

By the way, the official Oktoberfest website is HERE.