Beer! In word association games, it’s probably one of the first words you link to Germany. And for good reason. 7 million litres of the stuff are currently being downed right now by over 6 million visitors at Munich’s Oktoberfest, not to mention the countless litres at the 3,000 copycat Oktoberfests that Munich’s beer representatives estimate occur around the world.
7 million cocktails aren’t drunk at London Cocktail Week… yet! But then again, it doesn’t have quite the tradition that Oktoberfest does. Here are some Oktoberfest facts to get your mouth’s watering for next week’s cocktails.
Oktoberfest launches with the tapping of the first keg by Munich’s mayor. At the first such event in 1950, it took the mayor 17 attempts to tap the keg. This year it took four, but the mayor had a lot of practice, testing his keg-tapping adeptness on 40 kegs before the actual event.
Only beers produced within the city limits of Munich and those that follow the German Beer Purity Law, or Reinheitsgebot, are allowed to be served at Oktoberfest.
The Oktoberfest grounds are named Theresienwiese, or, "Theresa’s Fields" named after the Crown Princess Therese at her wedding to the Crown Prince Ludwig in 1810. The festivities for this wedding, including an annual horse race that lasted 150 years, gradually became Oktoberfest. Below is a depiction of what the festival looked like in 1823.
War is hell, and it was on Oktoberfest as well. The beer festival was not held during World War I or II.
Lederhosen are not actually Germany’s national costume. Traditionally, laborers sported the leather breeches because they were more durable than cotton or fabric. The dress eventually became leisurewear and is often worn while attending beer festivals.
Women don’t traditionally wear lederhosen. Although you can find those that do, most women in Germanic countries wear the Dirndl, a traditional dress associated with Bavaria, Austria and Switzerland. Beer maids at Oktoberfest wearing dirndl serve impressive amounts of beer litres.
Oktoberfest contributes €1.1 billion to Munich’s economy, over 1/4 of which is from commerce from people coming from outside Munich and €400 million on accommodation. Hotel prices are estimated to skyrocket 77% for the festival. If you can actually get a room, you’ll have that much less money for beer!