Oktoberfest time again! "Fall beers" seem to hit the shelf and draft-lines earlier every year. I'm not going to moan and groan about that like everyone else. There's a method to the madness and a little history behind it, but that's for another post and time. Here are 10 things you need to know to impress your friends or family with while celebrating another Oktoberfest!
- Despite the name, Oktoberfest is celebrated in September.
- Oktoberfest last 17 days, and can go until the first Sunday in October (German Unity Day / Reunification of Germany)
- Oktoberfest began October of 1810, as the celebration of the marriage between Prince Ludwig and Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen. The citizens of Munich were invited to attend the festivities (fair, markets, and horse racing) held on the fields in front of the city gates to celebrate the event. The decision to hold subsequent horse races the following year gave birth of the tradition we know as Oktoberfest!
- The first beer served in glass mugs at Oktoberfest wasn't until 1892.
- Traditional Oktoberfestbier called Märzen, are lagers that are slowly fermented to 5-6% ABV (Alcohol By Volume).
- German beer - Oktoberfestbier / Märzen began as a very dark colored lager until around 1870 when they began to lighten up to a copper color. The beer has since evolved to a light golden color more recently.
- Märzen (German for March or March Beer) was typically brewed in March since a law in place that prevented the brewing of "new beer" in the warmer months. This was largely due to health concerns and likely some batches that turned south in the warmer months. (Beer was forbidden to be brewed between April 24th - September 28th)
- This Märzen - "March Beer" was kept in cool cellars and even some caves that were filled with ice and snow that was left over from the prior winter months. This helped condition and keep the beer viable during the warmer months.
- In celebration of being able to brew "new beer" again (starting September 29th), any surplus of the remaining Märzen / Oktoberfestbier was served aplenty at Oktoberfest and has become a staple of the 17 day event.
- Oktoberfestbier is a registered trademark held by six big breweries in Munich, Germany. These six breweries are Spaten, Löwenbräu, Augustiner-Bräu, Hofbräu-München, Paulaner and Hacker-Pschorr. According to the German Beer Institute, Oktoberfestbier can only be brewed by the breweries in the city limits of Munich, Germany. These are also the only breweries allowed to participate in the annual Munich Oktoberfest. All other beers brewed to emulate the original must be labeled Oktoberfest-style beer.
Charles Bamforth - Brewmasters Art
Michael Jackson - Birth of a Lager, Beer Hunter
German Beer Institute