A good few years ago (hence why I look so young and vibrant) I made one of the ultimate beer-pilgrimages: Munich's Oktoberfest. So each year when the air starts getting crisp and the leaves start to change, I find myself reliving the memories of our trip to Germany. I crave those refreshing and smooth lagers. I want pretzels, and spaetzle, and sausages. I wonder what ever happened to my souvenir Ich Liebe Dich cookie that I wore around my neck. I didn't eat it and I'm pretty sure I wore it home on the plane like every good tourist should.
That time is upon us again--it's Oktoberfest! A festival that started in 1810--initially as a celebration for Crown Prince Ludwig's wedding but had morphed over the years to include horse-racing and an autumn festival--has ultimately found its identity as a place to drink liters upon liters of deliciously drinkable Oktoberfest beer while being enchanted by smells of grilled meat, pretzels, and roughly six million people all trying to use the same toilets. There truly is nothing better.
Oktoberfest lasts for roughly 16 days--this year is September 20th through October 5th--and is generally synonymous with the Bavarian city of Munich. While other cities, most notably Stuttgart, host their own versions called "Volksfests" it's only six breweries from Munich that can and do produce the famous Oktoberfest beers. If the same beer style is produced by a brewery outside of Munich, it's called a Märzen. Whatever you call it, it's a beer that was traditionally last brewed in March (or Märzen in German, get it?!) before it got too warm to do so during the summer. The deep-golden-coloured, bready, spicy, malty-sweet-yet-bitter refreshingly drinkable lager would find itself ready just in time for harvest. And now just in time for us to have one too many.
My experience at Stuttgart was better than in Munich as there was a lot more space and it was easier to chat with those around you. We befriended some locals sitting next to us--and inexplicably (read: too many beers) paid for their beer all night. I'm pretty sure our evening ended with us dancing on the table singing "Sweet Home Alabama" like we were the original writers of the song.
Munich or Stuttgart, the process is the same. Huge semi-permanent tents where thousands party late into the night. Thrill rides that I'm surprised the EU permits. Grilled food, fried food, sweet food. Beer. Men in lederhosen, women in dirndls. It's all that makes Oktoberfest great and why it's a must-go. Because, truth be told, nowhere else would you see a sturdy German woman with Popeye-arms carrying her bodyweight in steins of Oktoberfest lager. Or, if you're (or your spouse is) of German heritage, your family name on your very own beer tent.
Can't make it to Bavaria? Don't have Popeye arms? Then have your own Oktoberfest at home (don't forget the sausages and the pretzels!) with our very own The Magic of Oktoberfest mixed case. Prost!