You may have noticed in the past couple of weeks that a variety of bars, restaurants and even grocery stores like Villa have been a little more ‘German’ than usual, playing the distinct oompa-loompa music, serving special sausages and even beer. The reason for that is because of Oktoberfest.
Every year for two weeks starting in late September the people of Munich play host to possibly the most well known party on earth – Oktoberfest. This fair is a huge part of the culture of Southern Germany and has been since the first one was held in 1810.
The 17 to 18 day event was started to celebrate the marriage of the then Prince Ludwig of Bavaria (south-eastern Germany) to his wife Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen. In order to do this, the prince set out tents and tables in a field so the locals could celebrate. The fields where the festivities were held were named Theresienwiese and have since been shortened to simply Weis’n, what people from Munich actually call Oktoberfest. While the modern festivities include rides, games and other events there is really one thing that most people attend Oktoberfest for: To dress up in crazy outfits. Just kidding, it’s beer!
As you may know, Munich is a world-class beer city and is often cited as the area where Lager beer originated. As such, the Germans in this region of the country absolutely love to drink beer at nearly any occasion, and Oktoberfest is THE occasion. In the middle of the field where the event is held are massive beer tents that can hold well over 8,000 people all sitting on long picnic tables drinking beer, eating traditional Bavarian food and singing or dancing along to the music. At the beginning of each festival, the mayor of Munich taps the first keg and excitedly yells “O’zapft is” which means “It’s tapped” in English.
What makes Oktoberfest so special?
There are many reasons as to why this event is such a blast, but here are three of the most popular.
- The beer – Unlike other beer focused events that welcome variety, there are actually some pretty strict laws surrounding the beer served. First, it can only be made in Munich. Second, it must be a minimum of 6% ABV and third it must conform to the Reinheitsgebot. Because of this, there are only six breweries that can produce beer for Oktoberfest. And boy do they produce; in 2007 more than 7 million liters of beer were drunk in the then 16 day event. What’s more, they sell it in big 1L beer glasses called Mas (Maß) which literally means mug.
- The food – When you are drinking beer in the quantities consumed at Oktoberfest, you are more than likely going to need some food to go with it. Luckily, the Germans also know how to eat. You can get some traditional foods like pretzels, roasted pig knuckles and sausages. Food enough to soak up the copious amounts of alcohol.
- The costumes – No event is complete without traditional dress. For the men it’s Lederhosen (think leather shorts and suspenders) and women wear the Dirndl – a traditional Bavarian and Austrian dress.
While there are many reasons as to why people like Oktoberfest, the biggest really is the beer. No cheap quality stuff is served here and with an amazing party atmosphere, it is the perfect place to try some of Germany’s finest beers.
Oktoberfest goes international
Now, here in Thailand, Munich sure feels like a long way away and may be too costly to reach. Not to mention the fact that this year’s Oktoberfest is actually over. But don’t worry, there are a number of Oktoberfest themed options closer to home. Here are five in and around Bangkok and a few more a little further afield.
- GTCC Oktoberfest Night 2013 – On November 1, 2013 the German-Thai Chamber of Commerce will be hosting their annual Oktoberfest night. There will be traditional German food along with Paulaner, one of the beers allowed to be served during the real Oktoberfest. Checkout the Chamber’s website for more information on the event.
- Beerfest in Pattaya – If you feel like making the journey down to Pattaya, checkout Beerfest, a German themed restaurant and brewery. They have a BOGO (Buy one, get one) promotion on beer for the month of October. Throw in the German theme and it could make for a fun night.
- Villa Market’s Oktoberfest promotions – If you are looking to host your own Oktoberfest, Villa has German themed food on special this month. Head down there, grab some sausages and cheese along with some Paulaner and it could make for a fun night at home!
- Tawadang – This German style brewery has two locations in Bangkok – one in Ladprao and the other near the Chong Nonsi BTS station. While it’s not a full-on Oktoberfest, it does make for a fun night and is great if you have a large group of people, some of whom don’t want a full-blown German experience.
- Oktoberfest Booze Cruise – Ok, so it’s not actually called that, but it should be! These nightly cruises put on by Anantara feature German beer and food served while you cruise up and down the river. Sure it’s not the cheapest thing out there, but it makes for a uniquely Thai, yet still somewhat German experience! Cruises run nightly from October 15-21. For more info, checkout Anantara’s website.
If you are looking to book a short beer filled holiday, why not try these two options:
- Marco Polo German Bier Fest, Hong Kong – Every year from mid October to November, the Marco Polo hotel in Hong Kong erects a massive beer tent at the top of their parking garage and has their own 3 week long Oktoberfest. The bands from Munich will have you singing and dancing along on top of your picnic table in no time. Oh, and Löwenbräu Oktoberfestbier from Munich is served in 2L mugs. I’ve been to this event a few times and it’s as close to the real thing as you can get in asia, hangover included! Checkout the website for more info.
- Oktoberfest Asia, Singapore – This inaugural event will be held in Singapore from October 16-19 and will feature outdoor tents, German bands and beer from Munich. From the looks of it, this will be a yearly event that could be a lot of fun to checkout next year! Visit the site for more info.
Of course, you could always order some beer from us, we stock a number of high-quality German beers that will have you donning your Lederhosen or Dirndl and shouting ‘Prost’ at passers-by in no time flat.
Wish of the week
Paulaner Hefe-Weissbier Naturtrub
While not a true Oktoberfest beer, this wheat beer is a great substitute for it, especially here in Thailand. With a crisp mouthfeel and a refreshingly fruity flavor, it will go well with spicy food or on it’s own. Try one today, just don’t forget to yell ‘Prost’ before you do.