Each year, over six million people travel across the world to drink more than a million gallons of beer over a 16-day period. Yes, I’m talking about Oktoberfest, the Bavarian Volkfest that’s attained world-renown for its Reinheitsgebot brews, dirndls and lederhosen, and positive drinking vibes.
However, for the first time since 1945, Oktoberfest has been canceled. But this doesn’t mean we can’t celebrate!
While it’s a far cry from the tents that hold thousands of people, the street vendors serving currywurst, and the festival rides that do NOT mix well with drinking stein after stein of beer, we can celebrate Oktoberfest at home.
To help us kickoff the Oktoberfest season — the original dates were September 19 – October 4 — I was sent Schofferhofer’s Grapefruit Hefeweizen Bier and Pennsylvania-based Wallenpaupack Brewing Co.’s Oktoberfest Marzen, along with other Bavarian-inspired goodies.
So, here are some tips for throwing a most excellent Oktoberfest at home.
Start With the Oktoberfest Bier
Before anything else, people know Oktoberfest for its beer. However, the festival sets several rules for beers served:
- Adherence to Reinheitsgebot: All beers served at Oktoberfest must conform to Reinheitsgebot, also known as the Beer Purity Law. The good news is that plenty of great beers — Marzen, lager, Festbier, and more — follow these standards.
- Brewed in Munich: Yes, real Oktoberfest only accepts beers brewed in Munich. Technically the beers we drank at our at-home Oktoberfest don’t meet the Munich laws, but Munich alone can’t produce enough beer for the world to enjoy.
Only some breweries (Hofbrau, Paulaner, and Spatenbrau, to name a few) meet these strict standards. While I implore anyone who hasn’t tried these beers to check them out, I get that sourcing Bavarian beers during the Oktoberfest season might be…difficult. Instead, try finding either German beers or beers that follow Reinheitsgebot.
Get the Oktoberfest Glassware
Any beer snob worth their weight in beer knows that flavor starts with the glassware. For Oktoberfest, this means the classic dimpled beer stein. This bad boy of a stein is unmistakable for its dimply facade, and the ring sitting just shy of the top measures out a perfect one-liter pour. For non-metric system users (like me), that’s about one-quarter of a gallon. Prost!
Then there are smaller dimple mugs that carry about half as much beer. I don’t own any of these even though I think they’re neat and all, but if you want to do Oktoberfest at home, commit to the liter stein.
Eat the Oktoberfest Food
Ok, here’s where I kind of dropped the ball. I went to Oktoberfest back in 2013, and the young wide-eyed boy I was imbibed some Festbiers a little faster than I should have. Next thing I knew, my friends had purchased me one authentic pretzel (or bretzel, if you want to commit to the Bavarian terminology). Unfortunately, no bretzels were consumed during this at-home Oktoberfest. But we did eat well.
Here we have sausages, sauerkraut, and potatoes. Was any of this prepared in the traditional Bavarian way? Nope. To be honest, we were a little more focused on the Marzen and hefe than on the food stuffs.
That being said, some tasty Oktoberfest foods to prepare include:
- Wurst (currywurst if you can spin it)
- Roast chicken — yes, cook a whole chicken
- Knodel, a tasty dumpling
- Kasespatzle, some tasty noodles
These are all guys I tried in Munich at Oktoberfest, so I can say with confidence that they pair excellently with four liters of Festbier.
Enjoy the Oktoberfest Atmosphere
Bier? Check. Stein? Check. Food? Check?
Dirndl/Lederhosen? Brass band? Tent? Flags? Long tables? Scary funhouse with mirrors that people probably get lost in?
Look, an Oktoberfest at home will NEVER compare to the real thing. But celebrating at home is still better than just about anything else! Pump some traditional Bavarian drinking songs through your speakers (and Sweet Caroline, and could not count how many times I heard Sweet Caroline at Oktoberfest), wear the most Bavarian-esque clothing you own, sit down with people in your little quarantine bubble, and prost to 2021 where you might actually get to go to the real thing!
Remember, the original Oktoberfest dates were September 19 – October 4, so try and celebrate during that window.
A special thanks again to Schofferhofer and Wallenpaupack for the great beers, and shout out to Bavaria and Germany for providing the beer world with so many simple yet perfect beers.