The History of Oktoberfest

Oktoberfest – Ein Prosit zur Gemütlichkeit

Oktoberfest is one of the most famous events in the world… and by the way the world’s biggest fair on Munich’s Theresienwiese.  About 6 million people from all over the world attend the Oktoberfest.

Munich’s historic beer bash began as a wedding celebration for Crown Prince Ludwig (Neuschwanstein [the Disney Castle] – anybody?) in 1810.  The prince later turned into the Mad King, or if you ask my kids the “Nut” King, but don’t blame the beer!  This year is the 200th anniversary!  Since its beginning, Oktoberfest has been cancelled only 24 times due to war, diseases and other emergencies.

In 1880, electrical light illuminated over 400 booths and tents. (Albert Einstein helped install light bulbs in the Schottenhamel Tent (still exists) as an apprentice in his uncle’s electricity business.)  In 1881, booths started selling bratwursts. Beer was first served in glass mugs in 1892.

Visitors eat huge amounts of hearty fare such as grilled Hendl (chicken), Schweinsbraten (roasted pork), Schweinshaxe (ham hock), Steckerlfisch (grilled fish on a stick), Würstel (sausages) along with Brezn (Pretzel), Knödel (potato or bread dumplings), Kasspatzen (chesse noodles with onions), Reiberdatschi (potato pancakes), Sauerkraut & Blaukraut (red cabbage), along with other special Bavarian dishes like Obatzda (a spiced cheese & butter spread) & the famous Weisswurst (white sausage).  Hungry yet?

This all goes down well with beer!  And Oktoberfest is all about the beer.   About 7 million liters of beer (127,000 liters are non-alcoholic) & 80,000 liters of wine are consumed.  As the days begin to shorten, here are some good beer suggestions you could check out at Portalis:

Spaten Oktoberfest Ur-Märzen

While not quite among the top ranks of German brews, it’s pretty gulpable, which, after all, is the whole point of Oktoberfest.  Slightly malty with notes of caramel & toffee. Light spicy, bitter hops on the finish.

Ayinger Celebrator Doppelbock $5.50
This is like a Grimm Brothers fairy tale: raw, meaty, tempting & dangerous (goes down way too easy). Flavors of roasted malts, caramel, molasses & dark chocolate. Sweet & tangy with the right amount of bitterness. Magnificient!

Ayinger Jahrhundertbier $6.00
A Helles Lager from the same brewery. Made for the 100 year anniversary of the brewery. Bright, grassy, floral, grainy, with slightly hop bitterness. Dry, crisp finish. This classic Bavarian beer leaves you craving more.

Weihenstephaner Hefeweizen (Weissbier) $6.50
Hazy golden Hefeweizen fom Bavaria. Flavors of citrus, banana, bread & spices , with a hint of cinnamon. Light & refreshing! Bring on the Weisswurst.

Thirsty?  Slap on your Lederhosen or your Dirndl & polka at Portalis!

Jens (owner of Portalis & yes, a native German!)


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