Today is the official opening day of Oktoberfest. Later on at noon the beer will follow and festival goers will cheers exclaiming Prost! They will look each other directly in the eye as they do so, to avoid being cursed with 7 years of bad sex. They won’t be crossing their arms unless they want perpetual bad luck. Oktoberfest is more than just beer essentially beer makes up a crucial component of the celebration. It is a beer festival after all that being said I found myself wondering about the history of the beer. I already knew about the beer purity laws but, I wondered why the beer of Oktoberfest looked darker than other beer. I also wanted to find out about the history of the beer if you are curious about it to this post will answer your questions.
All beer in Germany adheres to strict quality standards this is called the Reinheitsgebot. The Reinheitsgebot was established in 1516 and states that the only ingredients which can be used to brew beer is barley, hops, malt and yeast. I admire how serious Germans are about keeping true to this standard. Reinheitsgebot is translated to purity law in English. The beer served at Oktoberfest adheres to these quality standards and is specifically brewed for the fest.
Oktoberfest beer falls into the Märzen category of beer. Märzen is darker and more robust than other beer varieties. It contains 6% alcohol. It originated in Bavaria the region where Münich is located in the 16th century. Josef Sedlmayr saw that lighter beers had become increasingly popular. In response to this trend he brewed a new beer it was a Vienna style larger. In 1871 he perfected the brew recipe. And he brewed it during March of 1872.Hence the name Märzen is related to when the beer used to be brewed before refrigerators were invented. Märzen beer was brewed during March. This enabled the beer to mature during the summer season. It would then be ready to drink in the late autumn or early winter, in time for Oktoberfest festivities.
Josef the first brewer
Josef Sedlmayr’s brew was poured in the Schottenhamel tent by Michael Schottenhamel. Schottenhamel was a carpenter who hailed from the Palatine region. He erected a tiny barn at the fest fields. Märzen beer was expensive and all the rage. It sold like hot cakes. This led to other Oktoberfest brewers copying the brew style. Today the Märzenbier is still the signature beer of Oktoberfest. You can also still find the Schottenhamel and it is where the first beer is poured by the mayor of Münich at noon. He or she screams O’zapt is! (It is open) and this is the official opening ceremony of Oktoberfest.
The 6 Otoberfest breweries
Only 6 breweries are allowed to serve beer at Oktoberfest. Paulaner (the beer I had), Spaten, Augustiner, Hofbräu , Hacker-Pschorr and Löwenbräu. There are 30 tents to choose from when you are attending Oktoberfest. The differences between the tents are something I will post about only in 2019. For now I will say that although I didn’t get to see all the tents even from just look at pictures I can see that each tent is different. And I would hopefully I will get to attend Oktoberfest again one day to experience the atmosphere in more of the tents.
The mammoth strength of the beer maids
The beer at Oktoberfest is sold in a huge mug so big I struggled to pick it up. It is called a Maβ. It’s a one litre jug of beer. That being said if you visit the Wine tent (Weinzelt) your beer will be served in a normal smaller glass. I marvelled at the strength of the beer maids’ arms as they looked like superwomen carrying around 10 jugs at a time never spilling a drop.
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Wishing you happy travels through the journey of life!
xxx Nikki xxx