For The Love of Lager & Lederhosen: Oktoberfest at Wallenpaupack Brewing Company
From the moment the Mayor of Munich exclaims “O’zapft is!” and until the final drop of beer is drained from the very last masskrug, Munich and the rest of the beer-loving world will be abuzz with the music,food, and celebrations of all things Bavaria. And, here at Wallenpaupack Brewing Company, not only is it decidedly our favorite time of year—it is also our anniversary!
Oktoberfest is the world-renowned beer festival that annually attracts millions of visitors to the heart of Bavaria, Munich. This iconic event is a vibrant celebration of German culture, but its origins and traditions have evolved significantly over the years. Allow us at WBC to walk you through some of the history, cultural significance, and even some common misconceptions and controversies surrounding every beer-lover’s favorite holiday.
Historical Origin of Oktoberfest
Oktoberfest’s history dates back to October 12, 1810, when Bavarian Crown Prince Ludwig married Princess Therese of Saxony-Hildburghausen. The citizens of Munich were invited to join in the festivities that accompanied the royal wedding, which took place on the fields in front of the city gates. These fields were subsequently named “Theresienwiese” in honor of the bride. The celebration included horse races, and over time, it grew into the festival we know today.
Over the years, as Oktoberfest has transformed from a royal wedding celebration into the world’s largest beer festival, the horse races eventually gave way to beer tents, amusement rides, and a diverse range of entertainment. And what started as a local Bavarian event had become an international sensation, attracting visitors from all corners of the globe.
One of the most common misconceptions about Oktoberfest is its name and timing. Although it’s called Oktoberfest, the festival primarily takes place in September. This shift in timing is due to the more favorable weather conditions in September in Bavaria. Warmer days and cooler nights make for a more enjoyable outdoor festival experience, which is why the event typically starts in late September and runs into the first weekend of October.
Oktoberfest is not just about beer; it’s about the vibrant traditions that have endured through the years. Visitors can participate in pretzel-eating contests, where the goal is to consume the largest pretzel in the shortest time. Stein holding competitions test participants’ strength and endurance as they attempt to hold a full one liter beer stein, called a masskruf, at arm’s length for as long as possible. These traditions, and more—which are still a large part of Oktoberfest in both Munich and worldwide— add to the festive spirit and camaraderie of the event.
Beer Evolution – Marzen to Festbier
Even though most of the world still associates Oktoberfest with the amber-colored lager called Märzen, it’s paler counterpart Festbier has become the official beer of Oktoberfest over the past couple decades. Favored for its optimal drinkability, Festbier is a golden lager with a crisp and refreshing finish which attenuates to a drier final gravity, making it easier to consume in larger quantities during the extended festival period. Märzen, which is still brewed and served heavily in celebration of Oktoberfest, is a rich, toasty and bready malt flavor, restrained bitterness, and a dry finish.
While Märzen is what you would most commonly find being advertised under the “Oktoberfest” moniker throughout the United States and beyond, here at WBC, we release both our Oktoberfest (Märzen) and Festbier to let our customers compare and contrast both worthy German lager styles.
Oktoberfest is not just a beer festival; it’s a celebration of Bavarian culture, history, and traditions that have evolved over two centuries. From its royal beginnings to its transformation into a global spectacle, Oktoberfest continues to captivate people worldwide, offering a taste of authentic Bavarian culture, delicious beer, and unforgettable memories.
And while it’s not JUST a beer festival, we at WBC strongly believe that without Germany’s prowess and innovation in the world of brewing and their influence in advocating for crisp and well-made beer styles is what makes Munich the most deserving nod for the setting of the world’s most important beer event.
Lastly, while Oktoberfest season is generally the only time you will find Märzen and Festbier on the menu at your favorite pub or taproom, Germany’s contributions to both beer styles and their history of maintaining integrity in brewing (see: Reinheitsgebot; the world’s oldest food safety law still in existence) is something worth celebrating all year long.
Can’t make it to Munich this fall? Join Wallenpaupack Brewing Company for our observance of Oktoberfest starting September 14th through the 24th – Including German inspired beers & menu items, glassware and beer features, brewery tours, The Schützengiggles Oompah Band, a pretzel eating contest & steinholding competition, as well as our Annual Oktoberfest Beer Dinner. We hope to see you there! Prost!