October 2, 2018

Bavarian Beer Bacchanalia

In the category of ‘Any Excuse For A Party’ – Oktoberfest is one of the biggies.

It began in 1810 as a celebration of the wedding of Kronprinz Ludwig and Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen of Bavaria. According to the Infallible Wikipedia:

Traditional Bavarian dancers celebrate Oktoberfest

“The citizens of Munich were invited to attend the festivities held on the fields in front of the city gates to celebrate the royal event. The fields were named Theresienwiese (‘Theresa’s Meadow’) in honour of the Crown Princess, and have kept that name ever since, although the locals have since abbreviated the name simply to the ‘Wiesn’. Horse races, in the tradition of the 15th-century Scharlachrennen (Scarlet Race at Karlstor), were held on 18 October to honor the newlyweds.”

Apparently the citizens of Munich had such a good time that everyone thought it was a splendid idea to do it again the next year… and the next… and pretty much every year for the next 208 years. Also from the Infallible Wikipedia:


“Oktoberfest is the world’s largest Volksfest (beer festival and travelling funfair). Held annually in Munich, Bavaria, Germany, it is a 16- to 18-day folk festival running from mid or late September to the first weekend in October, with more than six million people from around the world attending the event every year. (snip) The Oktoberfest is an important part of Bavarian culture, having been held since the year 1810. Other cities across the world also hold Oktoberfest celebrations that are modeled after the original Munich event.”

For many years the festival was held during the first half of October but was moved to the last two weeks of September and culminates the first weekend of October. But there is one caveat: if the first weekend ends on either the first or second, then the festival runs until the third.

The beer served at the Munich festival must conform to a standard known as Reinheitsgebot, and it must be brewed within the city limits of Munich in order to be served at the Munich Oktoberfest. The only breweries which can participate are:

  • Augustiner-Bräu
  • Hacker-Pschorr-Bräu
  • Löwenbräu
  • Paulaner
  • Spatenbräu
  • Staatliches Hofbräu-München

For more information and minutiae than you could ever hope to know, be sure to visit the Wikipedia page linked below.

This past weekend, while in Reno visiting our daughter and her boyfriend, the hubby and I agreed to attend a Lake Tahoe version of Oktoberfest. Held in Tahoe City,  the event featured beer, of course, as well as food and entertainment. There were about a half dozen breweries present. Since I’m not a beer drinker, I was happy to see Barefoot Wines have a booth. We enjoyed a lovely day along the shores of the lake although it was windy.

There was a live band – the Beer Gardeners – who played 60’s and 70’s music. There were also contests including a wiener toss. The game was exactly like a raw egg toss where partners stand across from each other and toss eggs to each other until the egg drops and breaks and the pair is eliminated from the game.

The competition was fierce at Tahoe City Oktoberfest celebration.

But instead of eggs, they toss their wiener back and forth. About 12 pairs of wiener tossers participated and each time a wiener was successfully caught, the participants would take a step further apart. The game was won when only one pair was left who hadn’t dropped their wiener. Yes, I’ve just used the word wiener five times. Yes I took photos.

wiener toss
The Weiner winners!

But the main reason for the event was to drink beer. As the internet might tell you “Beer Is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.” Contrary to popular belief Ben Franklin never said that. It was probably just a marketing ploy for Oktoberfest and another excuse to have a beer.

No beer for the author… but the wine and giant pretzel were delicious!

Such a fun time!

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