For the religiously inclined September is a month filled with important celebrations and festivals. The first of September is Guru Granth Sahib, a day of devotion for Sikhs where they celebrate their sacred scripture at the Golden Temple at Amritsar. In September, Muslims and Jews both celebrate the New Year in their own respective religious calendars. It is also the month when Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the year, The Day of Atonement falls for Jews. Hindus spend 9 days celebrating Navaratri, the female expression of the divine and even Pagans get in on the action, celebrating the Autumn Equinox at ancient sites like Stonehenge.
However, as important as all those days are, for the Beer Drinker, September means only one thing. In September beer drinkers gather to worship at different sort of alter. An alter that exists for both spiritual and literal support. An alter where genuflection is often involuntary and where incantations are harmonised with glugging, clinking and enthusiastic back-slapping. In the religion of the Munich Beer Drinker, the Hops, the Water and the Barley come together in a holy trinity of fermented perfection. For the Beer Drinker, this is their pilgrimage, their Mecca and the blackspot in their memory.
Oktoberfest is the celebration of Munich beers, when all other beers must accept their place in the grand scheme of things and relent to the power of the mighty Isar, who’s waters are one of only three ingredients in accordance with the Reinheitsgebot (literally means “purity order”), or the German Beer Purity Laws, as they are more commonly referred to. Laws for producing beer in Munich pre-date even the Reinhitsgebot, with strict Bavarian law in the production of beer existing since 1511 and other, less documented laws pre-dating even that.
The reason that Bavarians wanted to stick to those 3 simple ingredients was not just because it allowed them to make some seriously tasty beer but also because they wanted to reduce the competition for crops between brewers and bakers. If ever there was a country to make the most out of pragmatism it surely has to be the Germans.
Originally meant as a way to commemorate the royal wedding of Crown Prince Ludwig, later to become King Ludwig I to Princess Therese of Saxony-Hildburghausen on 12th October 1810, Oktoberfest was meant to be a one-off event that focused more on horse racing than on beer. The event was such a success that it continued the following year with an agricultural show added to exhibit the glory of Bavarian agriculture.
As the years passed carnival rides were added and then beer stalls, before the first beer tents made their appearance in 1896. Slowly but surely the horses disappeared and the focused realigned itself on beer, beer and more beer please. The pragmatism of Bavarian beer drinking meant that the festival was also moved to September to catch the few last rays of early Autumnal sunshine. However, whilst this might be the official take, we all know the real reason was that we just couldn’t wait any longer to get some beer down us.
No beers brewed outside of Munich get to be a part of Oktoberfest, with a particular focus on what has been labelled the “Big 6” breweries: “Hofbrau”, founded in 1589, Augustinerbrau, founded in 1328, Paulaner, founded in 1629, Lowenbrau, founded in 1324, Spatenbrau, founded in the mid-19th century and Hacker-Pschorr, an amalgamation of two separate breweries that were both founded in the early 19th century. All these guys have their lagers, their dunkels, their wheat beers, their Oktoberfest specials and a few other varieties that you can try during your tour of the tents.
Oktoberfest is seriously big stuff today. In 2017 an estimated 7.2 million people visited the festival, drinking a skull-numbing 6.9 million litres of beer. The few designated drivers who managed to make it along got through 169,200 litres of non-alcoholic drinks and are officially the only people who really have any idea about what goes on in those 14 massive tents.
According to a site that posts Oktoberfest statistics 57 units of calves were eaten, along with 116 units of oxen and just over half a million units of chicken. There were 140 thousand “pairs”? of pork sausages eaten and I’m not counting the fish because, let’s face it, fish are a waste of chewing when you’re drinking gallons of beer. There was no mention of pretzel consumption, I’m assuming because numbers don’t go higher than a squillion.
My favourite of the numbers to come out of Oktoberfest 2017 are not the 76 million Euros in revenue but the 111,000 foiled attempts at mug theft and the 2 French horns that were left in lost and found.
I think the thing I like most about Oktoberfest, along with the gallons of “Liquid Gold” on offer has to be the use of beer tokens to help facilitate the consumption of the glorious brew. Let’s face it, most people don’t want to have to count in fiddly numbers after they have consumed a few steins. We want our transaction to be as simple as possible and those thoughtful Bavarians have developed a system that does this and makes you feel like you’re at the funfair.
With visitors ranging from the USA, Australia, France, Great Britain, Ireland, the Netherlands, Austria, Sweden and Switzerland the festivities have already kicked off for this year, with an estimated 3.3 million people having made their way to the tents after just a few days.
There’s only so much you can write about beer before you have to go and drink some beer but before I do that I have found a few slots games that all have something in common with Oktoberfest:
First on the list is a game that comes fully lederhosened up. There are steins, there are buxom wenches and there is even a few very impressive moustaches on display to catch a hold of that foamy goodness. The game is set in a large Bavarian Beer hall and couldn’t be a more perfect slots accompaniment to the great beer festival.
Play the game for free here
Actually, I lied. Surely a game called “Oktoberfest” is in fact the best accompaniment to a festival called Oktoberfest? Like Bier Haus, everything you associate with drinking beer in Bavaria is here on display, albeit a slightly less polished version of it.
Play the game for free herePlay the game for free here
Welcome, to the part of the review where we begin to run out of directly beer themed games to recommend that can actually be played. “Gold King” might have nothing much to do with beer but I’ll tell you what is does have, a king. And what did the very first Oktoberfest have? Who has paying attention?
Play the game for free here
And now I have to confess that we really have sunk to the depths of tenuous association. All you need to know is that there is a wild carnival-like atmosphere at Oktoberfest and you’ll understand why this bold, brash slots game finds its way onto our list.
Play the game for free here
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