The 176th Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany, began on September 19 and continues to October 4. By the time it’s over, almost two million gallons of beer will have been consumed by over six million visitors.
Can’t make it to Munich this year—or to any of the myriad Oktoberfest celebrations held in cities all over the world? Why not throw a similar Oktoberfest at home? We all have space for that many guests. To do it correctly, though, one must follow the rules and customs.
The Beer: The only ‘official’ beers served at the Munich Oktoberfest come from these six Munich breweries: Paulaner, Hacker-Pschorr, Augustiner, Spaten-Franziskaner, Löwenbräu and Hofbräu. With the exception of Augustiner, all are available in the U.S.
The German toast is “Prost!,” and it’s customary to clink your glasses together — usually as forcefully as possible as the real German Maas glass is thick-walled enough to withstand such an impact. Don’t try this with ordinary glasses. Another toast before drinking is “Oans, zwoa, g’suffa!”—”One, two, drink!”
Opening Ceremonies: When the Lord Mayor of Munich taps the first keg at the beginning of Oktoberfest, he exclaims, “O zapft is!”—which means, “It’s tapped!” If you plan on having a keg at home, you can certainly appoint someone Lord Mayor and have him or her officiate at the opening of the first bottle of beer—or maybe at the opening of each bottle of beer all day and night.
The Signature Sway: Besides loudly singing along to your favorite songs and dancing (on the floor, on the table or even under the table), a favorite Oktoberfest custom is Schunkeln. This involves everybody locking arms with their neighbor and swaying from side to side at the table in time to the music.
The Attire: And don’t forget to dress properly. Women wear the sexy, country-style “Dirndl.” This consists of a bodice, blouse, full skirt and apron. A plunging neckline is mandatory. Men ussally wear traditional leather trousers, a shirt, suspenders and leather Haferl shoes that lace at the sides.
The Fare: Traditional Oktoberfest Recipes
From Spoonfuls of Germany by Nadia Hassani (Hippocrene Books, 2004).
1 ounce fresh (cake) yeast or 2 (Â¼ ounce each) envelopes active dry yeast
1 teaspoon salt
Â½ cup plus â…“ cup lukewarm water
2-Â½ cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
coarse (kosher) salt for sprinkling
Dissolve the yeast and the salt in the lukewarm water. Gradually add the flour and work into a firm dough. Knead thoroughly for several minutes, using the kneading attachment of an electric mixer or your hands, until the dough easily detaches from the bottom of the bowl. Shape into a ball, cover with a clean damp dishtowel and let stand for 2 hours at room temperature.
Briefly knead the dough again and shape it into a long roll. Cut it into 10 equal pieces and roll each piece into a rope about 12 inches long. The ropes should be thin on both ends and thick in the center. Twist each rope into the typical pretzel shape and press the joints together to make them stick. Place the pretzels on a greased 17-Â½ x 14-inch baking sheet, cover with the dishtowel and let stand for 15 minutes.
Dissolve the baking soda in 4 to 5 quarts of water and bring to a boil in a large pot. Reduce the heat. Drop one pretzel at a time into the water and cook for 30 seconds or until the pretzel rises to the surface. Take it out immediately with a slotted spoon and drain.
Return the pretzels to the baking sheet and sprinkle with coarse salt. If the salt does not stick, brush the pretzels with baking soda water.
Place the pretzels on the middle rack in a cold oven and set the oven to 425 degrees F. Bake for 20 minutes or until brown and crisp. Serve at once.
From Spoonfuls of Germany by Nadia Hassani (Hippocrene Books, 2004) .
Â¾ cup all-purpose flour
â…” cup soda water
Pinch of salt
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 Â½ quarts beef broth
Combine the flour with the soda water, salt and eggs and mix well until smooth.
Lightly coat a nonstick skillet with oil and cook thin, crisp pancakes. Cut them into small strips or roll them up tightly and thinly slice them.
Reheat the beef broth thoroughly. Add the warm pancakes and serve immediately.
1 package active dry yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
1 to 1Â½ teaspoons salt
3 cups flour
1 tablespoon shortening
1 cup warm water
6 slices bacon, cut-up
2 medium onions, sliced
Â¼ teaspoon cumin
Â½ teaspoon salt
1 egg yolk
1 cup sour cream
Mix together yeast, sugar, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 cup flour. Blend in shortening and warm water. Beat for 2 minutes. Add enough flour to make a soft dough (between 2-3 cups). Knead dough until smooth and elastic (this should take about 5 minutes). Place dough in a lightly greased bowl. Cover and let dough rise in a warm place for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, fry bacon until crisp. Remove from pan and drain on absorbent paper. Add onions to bacon drippings in pan; cook slowly over moderate heat until softened, do not let not brown.
Pat dough onto a lightly greased 12-inch baking sheet. Press up edges to make a slight rim. Sprinkle onion, bacon, cumin, remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, and pepper over dough. Bake at 400°F for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, blend egg yolk and sour cream. Pour over partially baked pie. Return pie to oven and bake until golden brown, about 10 minutes. Serve warm.