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What to make/serve for Oktoberfest?

Hubby and I are throwing and Oktoberfest party at home and I need some recs on what to serve. So far, all we have on the menu are various german sausages (wursts), sauerkraut, apple cake and beer. I'm definitely not an experienced cook of german dishes, so the easier the better. Any recs for specific kinds of beer & wine are also welcome. We're covered in the decorations department- got balloons, table cloth, streamers, flag, etc. Somehow I think the Scorpions might be a little heavy for this party so we might go with Bach or the Berlin Orchestra- any other music ideas? All recs are welcome!

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  1. German beer is made with 4 ingredients (under law) and has no preservatives - if you can find some, that might go down very well, but it might be hard.

    And AFAIK, sausages beer and saurkraut are all you need! What kind of sausages do you have? I've forgotten my favorite, but it's a grey one that is served when we have the festival in my hometown. It's very meaty, but not spicy/tart like ... I think bratwurst.

    Have you considered making your own sausages? It's something I've always wanted to try!

    9 Replies
    1. re: Soop

      That law (the reinheitsgebot) no longer technically applies due to the EU

      1. re: jgg13

        Oh, you bet it does, at least in Germany.

        1. re: linguafood

          Actually, no, it doesn't. The brewers might still hold themselves to it, but the law itself can not be enforced.
          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reinheit...
          http://stason.org/TULARC/indulgence/b...
          etc

          ('reinheitsgebot repealed 1987' in google will turn up a lot of hits)

          1. re: jgg13

            Well, I guess as long as the important people aka the brewers are adhering to it, there is no need to worry.

            1. re: linguafood

              I agree. It's a matter of principle, and one to be proud of.

              1. re: Soop

                People who enjoy weizens would disagree with you ;)

                1. re: jgg13

                  Weizen isn't brewed according to the Reinheitsgebot?

                  1. re: linguafood

                    Again "technically", no, due to the wheat malt. Wheat & rye malts were one of the reasons for the law in the first place. I've never fully understood how they were still allowed when the law was in effect, I've seen descriptions that get pretty convoluted about this exception and that exception.

                    Actually now that I'm looking into this, it appears that the law was edited ~100 years ago to just say "malt", and thus allowing wheat & rye. I've seen various conflicting stories though.

                    BTW, this site was somewhat amusing & informative ("why the reinheitsgebot is bollocks"): http://www.europeanbeerguide.net/rein...

                    Personally, I don't agree that it is a great standard to hold to. There have been a lot of interesting things done by craft brewers, belgians, etc that would not be allowed, not to mention many even older, more traditional styles of beer.

              2. re: linguafood

                That's why I said "technically" :)

      2. At the beer festivals I've been to in Munich (not Oktoberfest, but Starkbierfest, which is in the Spring and is more for the locals than the tourists) plain boiled potatoes, large soft pretzels, and whole smoked fish - in addition to what you've already got - are pretty ubiquitous. I can't say I've ever heard any Bach or similar composers; it's all oom-pah bands and you can find a selection of CDs on Amazon for that. Don't forget to dance on the tables for real authenticity (see attached photo from Starkbierfest 2007).

         
        3 Replies
        1. re: FlyFish

          smoked fish sounds nice - and I forgot the taters. Are they just plain boiled? No butter? :(

          1. re: Soop

            You can add your own butter (I do, when/if I can find some) but I don't recall seeing any Germans doing it, and they certainly don't come from the kitchen that way. They're also pretty good with senf (mustard), particularly the Bavarian sweet mustard that's everywhere in Munich. I can't say I recall seeing any Germans doing that either, but what the heck, I'm pretty obviously a tourist no matter how many liters of Paulaner Salvator I can drink (7, as I recall, but I don't remember the last few very well).

            Also, with regard to sausage - you can pretty much have whatever you prefer, but the more-or-less traditional Munich sausage is weisswurst and I learned from one of the locals in the Hofbrauhaus on my last visit that the correct way to eat weisswurst is to pick it up and use your teeth to sort of squeeze the filling out and into your mouth, leaving the casing.

            Oh, one last thing - I do make my own sausage and the fresh/cooked sausages are really pretty simple though it helps to have a modest investment in some specialized hardware. The cured-type sausages require a good bit of skill and careful preparation, in addition to being blessed with the correct temperature and humidity.

            1. re: Soop

              Steamed or boiled, with butter and parsley of course :)

              But really, you want to get the best quality potatoes you can for German preparations. Their potatoes have a strong potato taste on their own, so there's not much need to dress them up.

          2. For beer: try to get Löwenbräu, Spaten or another Munich producer. Oktoberfest (aka Märzen) is the style you'd want. Failing that, you could look for a local producer of the same style. And while not typical of Oktoberfest, Weissbier (aka Hefeweizen) is another popular style of beer typical of Munich. Beer would typically be consumed in 1 L (= 1 quart) glasses; if you want to drink less, you would drink a mix of 7-UP and beer rather than reduce the size of the glass.

            For wine: get wine from Franken; this will probably be Müller-Thurgau or Silvaner. You could also try looking for US-produced wines from these grapes, or dry Rieslings. And Sekt or another inexpensive sparkler would be good.

            Schnapps: Normally you wouldn't expect wine, but more beer + schnapps. Something like Jägermeister would not be inappropriate. Dry apple/pear brandy or another dry eau-de-vie would be more typical.

            Food: everyone likes sausages of course, but roast chicken, roast port with potatoes, and smoked maybe smoked trout would be more typical. Steamed potatoes, braised red cabbage, and radish-bacon salad for sides. And don't forget the pretzels and Obatzter (a chees spread made from a mix of camembert, mild soft cheese, paprika, cumin, onion salt and pepper).

            By flag, I sure hope you mean blue-and-white checkers, not the German national flag (I cannot imagine that flying above a German beer festival).

            1. Can you guys name some popular German sausages? I can't remember what my favorite is called (of and a description would be nice too!)
              The only ones I remember are Bratwurst, currywust, Frankfurter... Gosh, that's not many.

              12 Replies
              1. re: Soop

                In addition to the weisswurst I already mentioned, everyone's familiar with knackwurst, which is one of my favorites and there are some good examples to be had here at home. Another one that you see very commonly in Munich is nurnburger, which are little bratwurst-like sausages, about the size of our common breakfast sausage or a little smaller. For the dried sausages, my all-time favorite is Landjaeger, a salami-like sausage pressed into a rectangular cross-section and always sold in pairs of two links. I've had both good and horrible domestic examples.

                There's nothing quite as humbling as walking into one of the meat shops next to the Viktualmarkt in Munich and seeing what looks like a few dozen types of sausages hanging on the back wall, realizing that you can identify perhaps four, if you're lucky!

                1. re: FlyFish

                  I think my favorite begins with K and sounds like a town, but it's not Knackwurst. hanks btw though ;)

                  1. re: Soop

                    Kohlwurst? Krakauer? If you described it, in might help.

                    1. re: FlyFish

                      Im a big Knackwurst fan too. I think the brat gets all the attention and all the glory and the poor Knackwurst gets pushed to the back and denigrated as a short fat german hot dog. Well it IS a short fat german hot dog but its GOOD! As are well made german wieners. A little yellow mustard and mmm...

                      And to add to tmso's good suggestions about beers: In addition to the Spaten (a beer synonymous with Oktoberfest since its inception) I would recommend Ayinger's and Weihenstephaner's fest biers. Always solid. Hacker-Pschorr isnt bad as is Paulaner. Hauf Brau's is very good but its gone more toward a lighter vienna style in recent years as has many Oktoberfests I have found. I guess it appeals to the less traditional tourist pallets that stream into Munich for Oktoberfest celebrations and turn their noses up to the old style traditional MALTY sweet Märzen style beer. Oh well... I still like it, it just doesnt have that crisp, sharp, melenoidin traditional taste I associate with fall and Oktoberfest beers. You may also check with local breweries to see if they brew any seasonal fair. For the best beer is always the freshest beer. I know for example that Gordon Biersch makes a very good Okto this year and they are in many localities. Victory's Fest is very good too.

                      Oh! And forget Bach (and the Scorpians) and go with a straight ahead cheese ball umpah band (extra points if the average age of the members is 76). Cant have Oktoberfest without someone playing the chicken dance with lederhosen on!

                    2. re: Soop

                      Do you remember the flavor of your favorite sausage? There's Thüringer, Bauerwurst, Bockwurst, Knoblauchwurst; there's slicing sausage, spreading sausage and munching sausage...there's a pretty long list one could go through.

                      1. re: JungMann

                        It was about a foot long, cooked on a hanging barbeque (grill) over charcoal, and served plain (though I did have some saurkraut, but it had raisins in).
                        It was a dark grey-brown, which if anything suggested it could involve beef. It tasted meaty, like an ordinary (English) pork sausage of high quality. A low quality sausage will taste of salt and seasoning; I don't really like them any more. A good sausage will taste of meat, and this one really did.

                        The day before I'd had a brown one the same size, pink in the middle with a rubbery outside texture, and a tart, porky taste. This to me is a typical German Sausage.

                        1. re: Soop

                          Sounds like a Krakauer to me. Thüringer's pretty good, too -- another bratwurst type.

                          1. re: linguafood

                            That's IT!!! Thanks so much... I'm going to have to put somewhere I can remember ....

                            I'll edit my profile (it's where I keep the wine) Thanks guys. I might check out the Thuringer too if I can find it.

                          2. re: Soop

                            Originally I would've guessed Thuringian sausage, but if it starts with a K and sounds like a town, could it be Kulmbacher bratwurst?

                            1. re: Soop

                              One of the regional bratwurst types, perhaps? Coburger? Kulmbacher?

                        2. O h we're also have a celebration for oktoberfest! sadly the homebrew won't be ready in time, we weren't thinking ahead. :( Heres the kicker, one of the couples coming is vegan.!.

                          I'm planning on roasting some veggies for them, and soft pretzels sound doable vegan-style, but jeez, what else?

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: saralynn77

                            Bohenensalat with a garlicky dressing, red cabbage with apples or stuffed cabbage would work, as would Kartoffelpuffer so long as you used egg substitute. I might consider doing vegan Fleischpflanzerl or roast asparagus. A Google search for "Vegane Rezepte" yielded tofu vegan schnitzel, but even I don't have the Eier to try that.