Dust off your dirndl. Let out your lederhosen. It's Oktoberfest time! Even though the fairgrounds in Munich are empty for the first time since WWII – fear not - we have everything you need to host a virtual version of the world's largest beer festival. And while there's nothing quite like being there in person, our experts promise these 10 ‘e-ktoberfest' tips will have you feeling true gemütlichkeit in no time.
Know your Oktoberfest history
What's more fun than a wedding? Oktoberfest got its start as a citywide celebration of the marriage of Crown Prince Ludwig to Princess Therese of Saxony-Hildburghausen on October 12, 1810. In fact, the fairgrounds still bear the bride's name, Theresienwiese or Theresa's fields.
There's an official #mood
If you'd been to an Oktoberfest celebration anywhere in the world you know gemütlichkeit (pronounced ɡəˈmo͞otlikˌkīt). Keep this uniquely German word and its meaning of being friendly, cozy and welcoming in mind as you make your plans.
We've got your back(ground)
By now your know the routine: your ‘fest friends will probably be joining you via Zoom. Make it feel like you're all together in one of the famed Oktoberfest tents, by sharing these backgrounds with your invite.
Tap into traditional beers
For this we went to fifth-generation brewer and AB InBev's Chief Brewmaster, Pete Kraemer. “The beers served at Oktoberfest are specifically made for the festival following exacting requirements,” he says. “The beers are typically more flavorful and bigger, with higher alcohol by volume (ABV). Only six Munich breweries are allowed to serve at the festival and we're proud that our Spaten and Löwenbräu brands have been part of the festival for more than a century.”
And if you're in a pinch? Have your guests responsibly enjoy any ‘märzen' style, Oktoberfest lager.
Get a handle on your glassware
Typically Oktoberfest beer is served in a heavy, one-liter mug with a handle, called a mass. “If you don't have one available, any size glass with a handle will do so you can properly ‘prosit' with your friends, even at a distance,” says AB InBev R&D Director Steffen Muench, who's attended more than a dozen Oktoberfests.
Dress the part…at least from the waist up
Don your traditional ‘tracht' (costume) – the dress, called a ‘dirndl' (be sure you know which side to tie the bow!) or leather trousers with suspenders, known as lederhosen. Don't have either? Try a feathered fedora to mimic the German alpine hat, a checkered shirt or flower crown. Even easier? String pretzels together into a necklace for your own DIY-take on the centuries-old snack synonymous with Oktoberfest.
Prep an authentic playlist
Fabienne Buholzer, a specialist at Spaten-Franziskaner Bräu and Hasseröder Brauerei in Germany, suggests starting with Bavarian brass band music and then moving on to some classic Oktoberfest hits like: “Ich war noch niemals in New York“ by Udo Jürgens, “Skandal im Sperrbezirk” by Spider Murphy Gang, Wolfgang Petry's “Wahnsinn“ and “Schatzi, schenk mir ein Foto“ by Micky Krause.
“No matter if you're into techno, hip hop or jazz, in an Oktoberfest tent all people dance and sing to these songs as if they would never listen to anything else!” she says.
Make a Munich-style menu
Send your guests a simple shopping list so you all can enjoy the same ‘fest favorites. Pete suggests you start with snacks like radishes and pretzels, then move on to sausages (liver and blood sausages are popular). Top the evening off with a juicy roast chicken – more than a half-million are eaten each year at Oktoberfest!
Relive the good old days in this rare and stunning look at what it takes to serve Spaten and Löwenbräu to millions of people at Oktoberfest.
Game night, anyone?
Up your Oktoberfest knowledge by learning about its history, beer, glasses and folklore on Hoppy. There's even a 13 question quiz to brew up some competition with your guests!
When in doubt…prosit!
Arguably the second-best part of Oktoberfest is the singing and toasts. While there are many, Steffen says there's really only one song for you and your guests to learn: Ein Prosit. Hear it once and we promise you'll be hoisting a glass in no time, saying “Zicke zacke, hoi hoi hoi!”
And remember, even though you and your guests might be at home, please drink responsibly when celebrating Oktoberfest! Hydrate between beers, opt for a no- or low-alcohol brew, pace yourself with one drink or less an hour, and never drink and drive.