With so much to see and do at Oktoberfest 2014 (20th September – 5th October 2014) we thought we’d give you a helping hand with your biggest decision of all, ‘which beers to drink?!’
We’ve put together a helpful guide (particularly after you’ve had a few) to give you the lowdown on the best beers you will find in the tents from Munich’s six biggest breweries… All you need now is a gamsbart – the traditional Bavarian hat.
Paulaner Oktoberfestbier (5.8%) is lighter than the malty brews on offer throughout most of the festival, and is arguably the most popular beer available. It has a dark amber color with hints of caramel and raisins, however people seem split over this beer with some commenting on its significant bitterness and others reporting a light, watery sweetness. Unlike the other breweries, Paulaner continue to brew their Oktoberfest Märzen all year round.
– Winzerer Fähndl
– Käfer’s Wies’n Schänke
Augustiner’s most popular brand is Augustiner Helles (5.2%), a light lager beer that is given a prolonged secondary fermentation phase. This is the brand that is generally referred to when talking about Augustiner. Edelstoff is a slightly brighter, slightly sweeter, more sparkly, and stronger (5.6%) lager variant.
The Augustiner Weissbier Oktoberfestbier, is a style of beer (known as Märzen in German) that is specially brewed for the Oktoberfest. Augustiner’s Oktoberfest beer and Edelstoff are the only beers at the festival that are still served from traditional wooden barrels.
This brewery holds the title of the world’s first Oktoberfestbier and is the original Munich brewery. Spaten actually means spade, and therefore on all its barrels and bottles appears the symbol of a malt spade. TheirPils (5.0%) was the first to be produced in Munich; their specially brewed Oktoberfestbier (5.7%) is slightly stronger and paler. As well as these popular offerings, Spater also produce a specialty Diat-Pils (4.9%, 32 cal), which can be consumed by diabetics, and a Non-alcoholic beer. Like Hofbräu, Spaten still brew a popular Bavarian Märzen (copper red, full bodied maltiness) at the time of the festival as well as Oktoberfestbier to suit broader international tastes.
One of the most impressive tents at the festival, the entrance is marked out by a huge lion above the door which can be seen for miles. Like many of the premium beers available, it has a solid past and still brews according to the German Reinheitsgebot(Purity Law) which was established in 1516.
It has been served at every Oktoberfest since 1810; their specially brewed beer for the festival is Wiesenbier(6.1%), literally meaning ‘meadow beer’.
Brewed with pure spring water, they have stuck to the original Oktoberfest ingredients which are 100% natural. Their Oktoberfest Märzen (5.8%) is a malty, hoppy, bittersweet beer which goes down ideally with the traditional Bavarian cuisineon offer at the festival. Their tent is thesecond largest tent at the festival. Outside of the festival, Hacker-Pschorr Weisse (5.5%) is the most popular of the company’s beers, with an exclusive yeast strain, Hallertau hops, 60% malted wheat and 40% malted barley. As well as this they produce 15 other brews seasonally.
6. Hofbräu Munchen
Hofbräu specially produce a Märzen for Oktoberfest and last year the brewery won a gold medal last year in the World Beer Championships. As well as producing a lighter Oktoberfestbier during the festival, it is one of two breweries to still brew a popular Märzen to be sold in their tent. The Hofbräu Festzelt tent is especially popular with Australians, New Zealanders and Americans.
– Hofbräu Festzelt
Be warned, this year’s festival is not going to be cheap. Beer prices have increased again so expect to pay up to €10 for a litre of beer, or a ‘Mass’ as they are known locally. To see individual beer tent prices, check out Oktoberfest.de’s comprehensive run-down.
Unsurprisingly, accommodation for Oktoberfest is highly sought after, so anyone hoping to attend the festival should ensure that they book hostels in Munich well in advance to avoid disappointment, as this is one festival you won’t want to miss out on!
Looking for more travel guides and inspiration for this year’s fest? Check out this Oktoberfest travel guide with tips on where to stay, what to eat and visiting with your family.