Oktoberfest beer

Oktoberfest 2020

Oktoberfest is the largest beer festival in the world. Last year, 7.5 million litres of Oktoberfest beer were served. That’s 15 million pints! But did you know that all Oktoberfest beer comes from just 6 breweries? Or why some people drink their beer out of a shoe?

Oktoberfest 2020 canceled

But before we share all the information and exciting facts about the Oktoberfest with you, we have some sad news. As you have probably already noticed Oktoberfest 2020 is cancelled. the risk is simply too high, even if it really hurts and, of course, is an unbelievable shame.

Before we come to the interesting facts, let's first discuss the basics.

The origin lies in the Märzen

Before the invention of modern refrigerating techniques, there was a brewing ban during the summer months of the 19th century in Bavaria. This meant that in March they brewed, large quantities of slightly stronger, copper-coloured beers. These were then stored in cool cellars to be later consumed in the summertime. But how did this copper-coloured lager become a festival beer? It started as a way to drink old stocks. At the the end of the summer, people celebrated the autumn festivals and would drink the oldest beers first. This was traditionally the Märzen.

Like liquid bread

-The Oktoberfest beer came a little later. It is the Munich malt that gives the beer its caramel notes. It also makes it a bit lighter and more drinkable than a Märzen. The taste is malty and sweet, almost like a “liquid bread".

>> Decoding beer styles, here are all the styles at a glance

1. Oktoberfest 2020 dates

Ordinarily, Oktoberfest is celebrated in September. It starts with ‘Tapping the barrel’ which last year was held on September 21st 2019 at midday. 

This year, it is not on but you can still celebrate, find out how here!

2. Oktoberfest Munich

The Oktoberfest takes place every year in Munich in Germany. It is held on the largest fairground, the Theresienwiese, overlooked by the bronze, 18-metre-high Bavaria statue. 

3. Official Oktoberfest beer

Oktoberfest beers can be quite hard to classify, but they are mostly lagers.  However this can vary greatly. The beer has has changed greatly since the 1800s.  The original Oktoberfest beer is a malted stock with about 6% alcohol. Today, Oktoberfest beer is slightly more golden than Helles but brewed with a stronger alcohol content. They no longer brew the amber brews made with Munich Malt we see in America. Many of the "Oktoberfest" beers intended to replicate actual Oktoberfest beers are based an older styles. Hence, many “Oktoberfest” beers are nothing like the real deal, served at the real Oktoberfest. There are only six breweries that brew pure Oktoberfest beer.

Oktoberfest beer is similar to a Märzen, it is a low fermentation beer. It is in fact strong and darker in colour than traditional beers

However, you can buy beers to celebrate at home here

4. What is a real Oktoberfest beer then? Who can call it 'Oktoberfest beer'? 

Because Oktoberfest beer is a protected brand, only the traditional Munich breweries can call their beers Oktoberfest beer: Augustiner, Hacker Pschorr, Löwenbräu, Spatenbräu, Paulaner and Hofbräu.

Schneider Weisse, is a beer that was also available at Oktoberfest until the Second World War, when production stopped. They started brewing their original beer again, but now they call it Schneider Weisse Fest Weisse (TAP 4). Schoppebräu too, who are from Berlin smartly just call their brew, "This is not October**** beer".

5. What is the strongest Oktoberfest beer? Hofbräu - but beware!

  • At 6.3% ABV, the Oktoberfest beer from Hofbräu is the highest in alcohol.
  • The lowest alcohol content comes from Hacker Pschorr with 5.8%.
  • All the other Oktoberfest breweries fall somewhere in between: Spatenbräu at 5.9%, Paulaner and Augustiner with 6.0% and Löwenbräu with 6.1% alcohol.

Disclaimer: If you are attending in future years, you may not notice how strong the beer is until it’s too late - so best to drink slowly.

6. How should you hold a beer at Oktoberfest?

Beer glasses at Oktoberfest contain a litre of beer, and if you want to do it properly, you must hold it by the handle. If you’re doing it correctly, you’ll notice a bruise on the top side of your hand the next day.

Being a server at Oktoberfest is, as you can imagine, is a tough job. They have to carry between 7 and 12 glasses at once from morning to night, for 16 days at a time. But it’s not all bad: rumour has it they can earn up to €10,000 in 16 days.

7. Oktoberfest beer prices

50 years ago, the price for a half pint of beer was around £1. If you went to the festival demanding that kind of price today, you’d probably be thrown out of most tents. Nowadays it’s £10 or £11 a beer at the event - even if you choose to drink it from your shoe.

As no one can attend Oktoberfest 2020 anyway, why not check out the beers we are offering for our very own Beerwulf Beer Fest? You will miss the hustle and bustle of the tents but no long queues and better value beers!

8. Who taps the first beer?

This is what we referenced in the first question, with "tapping the barrel". On the first Saturday of Oktoberfest, the opening ceremony takes place in the Schottenhammelzelt. As part of the festivities, it’s up to the Mayor of Munich to tap the first beer. This tradition has existed since 1950 - the then mayor needed 17 taps! The current record is two taps, held by current Mayor Dieter Reiter. The festival opens with the words "O’zapft is – auf eine friedliche Wiesn!” meaning “It’s tapped - let’s have a peaceful Oktoberfest!”.

9. Was there beer at the very first Oktoberfest?

Yes, and no. The first Oktoberfest dates back to 1810, when Ludwig von Bayern and Princess Therese of Sachsen-Hildburghausen got married. The celebration on the Munich Theresienwiese lasted for all of 5 days. It was such a hit that the festival became an annual event. Of course, even then there were many drinks flowing, not served directly at the festival but on a nearby hill. Only later were beer sales also permitted on the Theresienwiese.

This explains where the name comes from, despite being held in September. The festivities ended October 12th 1810 with a horse race. It was such a hit they repeated the event the following year and brought it back to September. Weather played a huge part in this decision making!

10. Where does the Oktoberfest beer song come from?

The song "sung" at Oktoberfest, “Ein Prosit der Gemütlichkeit” doesn’t in fact come from Bavaria. It comes from Chemnitz in Saxony, composed by Bernhard Dittrich. By the time it was introduced in 1912 however, the composer had already died.

Bring Oktoberfest home!

Oktoberfest 2020 will not be celebrated in its conventional sense, but that just means we need to be a bit creative. You can still celebrate in style, just bring Bavaria to your kitchen with good beers and good snacks. 

Perfect for any Oktoberfest celebration is a case of German beers or a home pulled pint of German beer, click on the links below for more info!

The SUB for Oktoberfest

  • The ultimate home beer tap 
  • You can of course draught any beer from our selection, but why not get into the spirits of things and tap some German beers
  • Perfect pints everytime
  • Cooled to 2° C
  • Load it up with SUB Kegs

Beer Cases for Oktoberfest

  • For the ultimate experience pick one of our curated Beer Cases
  • Choose from cases of 16 or 12 tasty beers
  • Created by specialists for guaranteed quality

Pour Oktoberfest pints at home

Shop all SUB Kegs

Hoppebräu Märzen - SUB Keg

Lager | 5.6% | 2 Litres

£ 14.49

Camba Märzen - SUB Keg

Lager | 5.6% | 2 Litres

£ 14.99

And Union Wednesday Wheat - SUB Keg

German Wheat Beer | 5.0% | 2 Litres

£ 14.99

Gallia West IPA - SUB Keg

IPA | 6.0% | 2 Litres

£ 15.99