beer festivals

A final thought on Oktoberfest

We recently overheard a young German woman talking to an Australian friend on the tube. He said he’d love to go to Oktoberfest sometime. She snorted derisively and said:

“Oktoberfest is only for tourists. It exists to make rich men even richer. I would never go.”

Fair comment?

18 replies on “A final thought on Oktoberfest”

Nope. Don’t think so. When I went a couple of years ago I was amazed at how the fest involved the whole of the city. We met up with a crowd who were running a very cool restaurant and the next day there they were, down at the festival in their dirndl and lederhosen. In fact I was suprised at the extent to which the locals outnumbered the tourists. If you’re not a local you need to know one to make it work for you

Oh totally. It’s one of those things you’d go to if you lived there once, just because it’s there. But the whole thing’s pretty grim as festivals go. The dominance of corporate entertaining is particularly unfestive.

Even though Munich is only a few hours away by train I have never been tempted to go to Oktoberfest, although I do want to go to Munich next spring when they bring out the strong stuff.

From the beer point of view, Oktoberfest is very poor, only six beer, all from big bottlers, all Pils that can only be drank in 1l mugs. It’s not really a celebration of beer. I would like to go some day, only to say been there, done that, but it’s not one of my goals in life.

Given my know interest in beer and Germany, I keep getting asked if I have been and I always snort derisively and say

“Oktoberfest is only for tourists.”

But there is a little bit of me that would like to see it just to be sure!

I’ve been, once, 11 years ago I think. We didn’t stay too long (well, actually we did stay too long), and our German colleague who we were in Munich to meet at the time didn’t come. Although I think he was in the process of separating from his wife at the time, so that may have been the real reason.

Still, I think I’d like to go again, as I have a different outlook on beer and beer culture than I did then. So, it’s what you make of it.

Pivní, it’s not Pils they serve though, eh? It’s supposed to be Märzen/Oktoberfestbier. But yes, only six brands (and one type) does not a beer festival make in my mind (although I’d say it was a different beast in the past and much more sociable). And I don’t like drinking from a Seidel/Maß Krug either.

I went along this year, but mainly to check out what the fuss was all about. And yes, its basically full of young Australian Backpackers behaving badly. Very Badly!
The Canstatter Volksfest in Stuttgart is way better, and not a tourist in site.
Anyhow, hunt through my blog if you want to read about my adventures.

I have been loads of times as in a previous life was required to visit Munich regularly for business. The festival itself bring the best and the worst. As corporate hospitality goes, drinking beer, eating chicken, wearing lederhosen and singing is as good as it gets. However, large glasses and the excesses of the beer tourist make for a messy end to an evening.

I would definitely make another visit. Indeed, my son who turns 18 in January has it on his list of things to do as his rite (sp?) of passage.

That said, there are plenty places and beer festivals I would choose ahead of Octoberfest.


Despite knowing this (and i do think it’s true to some extent), It’s on my list of things to do and will stay there until I go.
Some would say visiting the Black Sheep & Theakstons breweries is for tourists – but if you’re in Masham, you’d go. Why? Cos we love beer.

It’s not a beer festival in the sense we in Britain know them. Perhaps that causes the confusion for so many beer geeks. It’s not meant to be about obsessing about different beers, it’s meant to be good times and a cultural event.

Indeed, Beer Nut. I’m happy to swop beer choice for more fun at a festival. But Oktoberfest doesn’t really sound like my idea of fun. I’d go for the experience, and the history, and because I like Munich, but I’m not sure I’d enjoy the experience much.

My favourite account of the O-fest is in Irvine Welsh’s novel “Glue”. Read it. Very funny, and I suspect quite accurate. I think I’d have a good time if I went with the right pals.

The thing about beer geeks is that essentially they’re geeks who just happen to have chosen beer as their obsession, as opposed to something else. They’re bound not to like a highly-charged social event like the O-fest. They’d be worried about getting their dinner money stolen in the melee.

Quick: call the Euphemism Repair Squad! That “highly-charged social event” is looking severely unstable.

One can experience events with a similarly charged social character at kicking-out time in most any city centre in the British Isles of a Saturday night.

Yes, and it’s often quite good fun there, too. I walked through South Shields town centre at midnight two weekends ago. Brought back lots of memories. Good ones, mainly. Just because I don’t like something now, doesn’t mean I didn’t like it then!

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