Oktoberfest Beer: Stronger Than Your Average Brew

What comes to mind when you hear about Oktoberfest? Beer, of course. But did you know the traditional Oktoberfest Germans celebrate is a far cry from a regular Beerfest? And that it wasn’t always about beer?

Image Source: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Oktoberfest_bierzelt.JPG

Held every year in Munich for 16 to 17 days leading up to the first Sunday of October, it was inspired by a festival to celebrate the royal wedding of the crown prince of Bavaria in 1810. While royal weddings at the time were usually only attended by nobles, Crown Prince Ludwig of Bavaria (later King Ludwig I) opened the festivities to the public. Some 40,000 people attended the joyous occasion, and the event was so successfully received by the public that they held it again the next year, using the festival to promote local agricultural products and crafts.

For many centuries before BMW set up shop in Munich, the horse races before the royal family was the highlight of the annual festival. Locals showed up in full Bavarian gear for the pomp and circumstance of the opening parade, and to cater to the growing crowd, bratwurst and beer stands opened in 1881.

Breweries that can produce ‘Oktoberfest Beer’ belong to the Club of Munich Brewers. Have you ever tried beer from any of these brewers?
- Augustiner-Bräu
- Hacker-Pschorr-Bräu
- Löwenbräu
- Paulaner-Bräu
- Spatenbräu
- Staatliches Hofbräu-München

Image Source: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Paulander_Emblem_Biergarten_Oktoberfestzelt.JPG

So does a brewery just have to be in Germany to qualify? It’s not so simple. Beers served at Oktoberfest have to meet certain criteria in accordance with a Bavarian Purity Law called Reinheitsgebot. To be designated an ‘Oktoberfest Beer’ the brew has to contain about 6% alcohol (or more), made only from the ‘purest’ ingredients as stipulated by law, and brewed in Munich. The alcoholic beverage does not necessarily have to be brewed by friars, although many are.

Oktoberfest has come a long way. What started as an annual horse race and agricultural fair has become the must-attend event for beer lovers. While many attendees still show up to Oktoberfest in traditional Bavarian costume, horse racing is no longer part of the festival. With 6.4 million people consuming 7.1 million litres of beer (not to mention other alcoholic beverages), maybe dropping horse racing from the itinerary may not be such a bad thing.

You can find some of the Oktoberfest beers in Singapore. Paulaner-Bräu has a microbrewery and restaurant in the city:
Paulaner Bräuhaus Singapore

Find out more about the Club of Munich Brewers:
The Big Six Breweries

Read more about Oktoberfest:
The History of Oktoberfest and the Beer

Curious about the Reinheitsgebot? Here’s the original law in English:
Germany’s Purity Law


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Author: Song Lianyi

The beginner’s course for a fun and effective way to learn Mandarin Chinese. Specially written for people who have never learned a foreign language before.

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