A Short and Simple History of Oktoberfest

popular craft beersNo matter where you are in the world, it is likely that you have heard the term Oktoberfest. This massive celebration is more than just a drinking holiday; it’s become a global phenomenon. But besides popular craft beers, pub food, and pretzels, do you know anything else about this wonderful holiday? That’s what we’re here for – to explain why Oktoberfest is actually in September and why those hefeweizens are so popular.

Oktoberfest is the world’s largest beer festival. It is held every September in Munich, Germany, and attendees come from all over the world to drink beer and have a merry old time.

  • Every year, 1.5 million gallons of beer, 200,000 pounds of pork sausage, and 480,000 spit roasted chickens are consumed in Munich’s 16-day festival alone.
  • The tradition of Oktoberfest started in 1810 to celebrate the marriage of Bavarian Crown Prince Ludwig to the Saxon Princess Therese on October 12. The Munich townspeople were invited to join in the celebration, which was held in party halls in front of the palace’s gates. The party went on for five days, and the main event was a horse race.
  • Every year after 1810, there was an anniversary celebration in Munich. A few years later, carnival games were introduced, followed quickly by beer halls that were sponsored by local craft breweries.
  • The activities at Oktoberfest, besides drinking, varied from year to year. But traditional activities included tree-climbing, mush-eating contests, wheelbarrow races, and goose chases.
  • Why is Oktoberfest in September? The answer is simple: the weather! Over the years, the celebration was extended for about two weeks and since Munich’s climate is testy, festival goers wanted to push up the date so they could guarantee good weather.
  • For the past 207 years, Oktoberfest has only been canceled 24 times. The main causes were due to cholera outbreak and war.
  • All types of beer can be found at Oktoberfest, but of all the popular craft beers, the darker beer Marzen is the most popular. Even though 84% of beer drinkers like to choose their brew depending on the season, this is the most popular as the traditional Oktoberfest brew. It is only served in gallon jugs, and bartenders and barmaids must be able to carry 10 steins at a time.

So while September may be over, there is still plenty of time to get in touch with your German side and enjoy a few beers. Prost!