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Munich Oktoberfest suggestions please

I'm traveling for business next week to Munich, and they are officially tapping the keg on Oktoberfest the saturday I arrive. I have a few days to acclimate myself before I need to get serious with my business, so I'm going to hit a few beer tents. Does anyone have recommendations on how to approach this event, or could recommend some great beer to try? I've never been, but I'm really looking forward to it. Any tips would be appreciated.

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  1. When do you arrive? If you want a spot in the Schottenhamel (tapping) tent youll need to get there bright and early. That hits at noon I believe but people usually line up hours before hand just to be on site. As for the main brewery tents, a lot of them take reservations but it may be too late for that so you may have to wait in line which can be long the first two days. Hofbrau's tent tends to attract the most Americans but check out some of the others as well since they may not be as hard to get into. If you are free on Monday during the day that might be a good time to really check things out. Expect it to be crazy packed that first weekend. And expect to pay like 8 Euros per liter for beer. Prost!

    1. I have no idea how to do Oktoberfest, but I do know that one of the best breweries in Munich is Schneider, so seeking out their products is advised. They are particularly known for wheat beers (weisse). The best Oktoberfest beer I've had is made by Ayinger, so keep an eye out for that too. (See wikipedia article on Ayinger though - interesting that as a non-Munich brewery they may be kept out of Oktoberfest within Munich.) Most beer aficionados avoid Hofbrau - it is unremarkable stuff, nothing like the Ayinger (which has a great slightly sweet biscuity taste).

      8 Replies
      1. re: maple99

        I've never been to O'Fest, but I think I have a few facts straight, or maybe not, so feel free to correct me ... I'm pretty sure that as you say, you won't find Ayinger Oktoberfest at the O'Fest. In fact, I don't think you'll find beers like this one, as well as a host of others who call themselves O'fests in the US, using that name in Germany, since only beers brewed in Munich use that name. I expect it's called Maerzen of Fest or something like that. Ditto for the fest weizen from Erdinger, which they serve at their own herbstfest. I would be surprised in Ayinger didn't throw their own beer fest.

        I think you'll find that most brewers feature an O'fest that's a golden lager, sort of an amped up hellesbier. The Hofbrau Oktoberfest we get in the US is an example of that. I'm not sure if you can get the traditional Vienna/Maerzen style that's typified by the Spaten O'Fest we get in the US. Can anyone clear this up?

        1. re: Jim Dorsch

          I do believe that Jim is correct here...don't expect to find any 'Maerzen' style brew at Munich's O-Fest. The norm these days, from what I've been told by intrepid visitors there in recent years, is that the beer at the fest is a slightly ramped up helles.

          1. re: The Professor

            I agree with this. Apparently, traditional Oktoberfest beer seems to be an endangered species. Don't expect higher gravities, richer flavors, and lots of malt. Instead, expect rather ordinary beer with just a bit more oomph.

            1. re: Tripeler

              Right.
              Oddly, it seems that Americans are more fixated on the Maerzen style of festbier than the Germans!

          2. re: Jim Dorsch

            The Hacker-Pschorr festbier I drank at the fest in Munich in 2003 was somewhere between a helles and the marzen style we get imported to the states from the same brewery. Had more hop flavor and dry bitterness than I was expecting - which made it quite drinkable. I wouldn't really classify it as an amped up helles - others like Lowenbrau and Hofbrauhaus seem to me to be somewhere between a helles and maibock.

            I love all the geeks who get uppity about modern festbier being so lame compared to the marzen style - yet would never think to drink many liters of the same beer through the course of a day - which is really the purpose of fest style - drinking liter after liter of hearty marzen would fatigue the palate pretty fast.

            Pretty sure you won't find any Schneider products at der Weis'n either who have a pub in Munich, but the beer is brewed elsewhere. Only beer served are breweries that make beer within the Munich city limits. Augustiner, Paulaner, Hacker-Pschorr, Lowenbrau, Spaten and Hofbrau.

            1. re: LStaff

              Is weizen permitted at O'Fest? Are there any stylistic rules, or is anything made in the city acceptable?

              1. re: Jim Dorsch

                Weizen is permitted - but only sold in the Hippodrom, Weinzelt (wine tent) and Weinstuben (a smaller wine tent) I believe. Not sure of any other restrictions for beer, but each tent seems to only serve one bier - festbier. But you can get mixed drinks at some of the smaler tents, and can get shots of schnapps and such at stands throughout the grounds.

              2. re: LStaff

                I'm also amused by the geekery regarding Maerzen festbeir versus the Helles varieties served nowadays. They're all pretty good, in my estimation. While I was once a big fan of the Lowenbrau Maerzen, I find the current festbeir they make to be pretty good as well...as you suggest, somewhere between helles and maibock.

                Not sure if multiple liters of Maerzen would fatigue my palate since I do love that "style" of beer, though sadly, these days multiple liters of _anything_ would definitely fatigue my digestive system and fog my brain somewhat more than in the past. LOL.

          3. Had a blast and have to say that my fave was Paulaner. in fact, I found it here in Columbus and am having a few tonight. It was 9 Euros per liter in the tent, or about $13 USD but I only paid $8 for a 6 pack, which holds about 2 liters. Amazing that it can be imported so cheaply compared to what I paid in the same city they brew it. I'm pretty darn sure it's the exact same beer minus the awesome atmosphere of Oktoberfest. I do miss the music and hearty toasts! PROST!!!