[Munich, Bavaria, Germany] – Oktoberfest 2013

9 10 2013

I was in Munich for the weekend to catch the World’s Largest Beer Festival – Oktoberfest! Despite its name, Oktoberfest actually starts in late September and lasts till mid-October and just like the other beer and wine festivals in Germany, the festival is made inclusive for the whole family with the beer tents surrounded by amusement park rides and street food vendors. It’s quite impressive how all the buildings and rides are assembled just for the short duration of the festival.

While it’s almost impossible to get hold of tickets to enter the beer tents, do not fret. You can still enjoy the experience as a walk-in customer if you get to the tents early enough, especially if it’s a weekday. I visited the festival on a Friday and Saturday afternoon and what a difference a day makes as you can see from the pictures below.

Oktoberfest “Crowd” on a Friday afternoon

Oktoberfest Crowd on a Saturday afternoon

Entrance area to Oktoberfest

There are 34 tents of varying sizes, most carrying beers from one particular brewery. The one I visited was called Fisher Vroni and carried Augustiner beer.

Anyway to sidetrack a bit, to be considered an official Oktoberfest brew, there are some standards that breweries must conform to; the beer must be brewed within city limits and possess a minimum alcohol percentage of about 6.5%. Only 6 breweries meet these criteria and are allowed to sell their beers within the beer tents. According to the locals sitting next to me, Augustiner and Hacker seems to be more popular amongst the local and having tried both, my vote goes to Augustiner, as it has a light feel despite having a higher than average alcohol content and wasn’t too carbonated.

A peek inside one of the beer tents (Fischer Vroni)

Apart from carrying different beers, the tents also specialize in different types of food. The one I was in had quite an extensive menu but what stood out was the grilled fish dishes. The whole Grilled Mackerel (28 Euros) we ordered was reminiscent of a huge Grilled Saba Fish (approx 600g-800g) from a decent Japanese restaurant and the saltiness and fattiness from the fish complemented the chilled beer perfectly.

Beers are all sold in litre mugs for around 10 Euros each and the typical German downs probably between 3-5 mugs on average per sitting. Even the grandma and middle-aged lady sitting next to me shared 5 mugs between them.

Standard Oktoberfest Grub – Litre beers and Pork Knuckles.

When it isn’t Oktoberfest, visitors can still visit the permanent residence of the various brew houses. The interior and atmosphere were pretty similar to what we experienced at the Oktoberfest tents.

Other attractions in Munich worth visiting include English Garden, where there are a few Chinese/Japanese shrines and a beer garden. Most importantly, remember to visit the pond area to check out the ducks and swans!

The BMW showroom & museum is also worth the trip in my view. As the parent company of Rolls-Royce and Mini, the showroom displays cars from these brands as well. Visitors can take pictures sitting inside most of the cars on display, except for those from Rolls-Royce.

Whilst having ticked off one more item off my bucket list, I wouldn’t say that Oktoberfest lived up to expectations. On weekends, it’s almost impossible to enter the beer tents without getting up to queue at 7am and unless you like squeezing your way through a crowd with no beer to brighten up your day, you will be in for a tough time. I found the atmosphere and activities similar to the wine festival at Bad Durkheim, but the latter was way far less commercialized, genuine and had a greater variety of German street food.

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