Oktoberfest: Munich Mania

Watch: How do you say Thirsty Girl in Bavarian?

I’m a wine expert, but my love of libations leads me in many directions from bourbon, to tequila, to pisco. If asked my go-to-sipper after wine though, suds are a close second.

TG in MunichWhen the opportunity arose recently to attend the 200th anniversary of Oktoberfest in Munich, I jumped at the chance. Hanging out at one of the biggest parties in the world has “Thirsty Girl” written all over it. So off I went to spend a weekend in Bavaria.

Knowing that I wanted to shoot footage for Thirsty Girl TV, I lined up a camera crew to meet me when I got off the 14-hour plane ride. Within an hour of landing in Munich, I was in front of the camera. After taking a shower at the airport and changing in the car (a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do), I met the crew at Paulaner Brewery, my host for the festival.

Fortified by a quick pint of real Oktoberfest brew – Paulaner is one of the original brewers of the Oktoberfest beer dating back to 1634 – I interviewed the Paulaner brewmaster, then it was off to the Oktoberfest tents. No rest for the weary….or sober.

(TGTV segments about Oktoberfest coming soon!)

Oktoberfest is a party fit for royalty.

Those Bavarians know how to have fun. The Oktoberfest festival began centuries ago as a party in honor of the marriage of Bavaria’s Prince Ludwig to Princess Theresa. Locals had such a good time it turned into an annual affair and the event now draws crowds from all over the world. This year’s tally totaled six and a half million people in just over two weeks. They consumed nearly seven million liters of beer, half a million roast chickens and tens of thousands of sausages and freshly-baked pretzels. It’s truly a celebration of Bavarian culture.

I spent two days and nights in the tents of Paulaner and their sister brewery, Hacker-Pschorr, which is less well-known in the United States but a brewery to discover.

Hacker-PschorrThe Hacker-Pschorr tent should be on the top of your list if you ever attend Oktoberfest. Here you indulge in beers under the “clouds” (a reference to the elaborate décor of a painted sky and Bavarian landscapeadorning the massive tent) and dance on tables to the music of a live band (oompah-pahs expected).

Let me say that there are 14 “tents” housing beer. I use the word tent loosely as these are massive structures housing 8-10,000 people. Inside each tent is a world unto itself. Each is decorated differently with a unique vibe and crowd.

I thought I’d seen a lot but nothing can prepare you for the noise level, the people, the organized chaos, and yes the drunks you see at Oktoberfest. Luckily, they’re pretty much all happy drunks.

Despite the 6 million plus litres of beer served over the course of two weeks, it’s a relatively peaceful group. Sure, people are passed out on the hillside behind the massive tents and you see some unsavory sights when you mix that many people with that much beer, but my advice is just don’t look too closely.

Along with that, I recommend the following tips if you ever go to Oktoberfest – and it should be on every booze lover’s bucket list.

Tips for an awesome Oktoberfest:

· Go V.I.P. Make reservations to sit on the balcony areas of one of the 14 tents. Each tent holds around 8-10,000 people so up top you get a view of the chaos below.

· Prepare to dance on the tables and be on your feet all night. Wear flat shoes.

· What to wear? Men are in traditional suede walking shorts called lederhosen (they look hot) and women wear gorgeous fitted dirndls that are figure flattering (they look hotter). I bought a dirndl when I arrived. I recommend it. Seriously, just about every woman has one on.

· Eat — Big soft, chewy pretzels, tangy cheese spreads, spicy sausages all the fare is salty and hearty to sop up the beer. The tender, crispy-skinned roast chickens are the best, though.

· Pace yourself — Beer is served in one-liter steins by fraulines hoisting up to a dozen at a time. You drink it like water, so sipslowly.

· Learn how to say “prost!” it means cheers and you do a lot of it.

Not heading to Munich? No worries, host your own Oktoberfest party with my beer recommendations below. Just stock up on food, don your dirndl and enjoy.

Look tomorrow for my picks on the best beers to drink for Halloween weekend.

 

 

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