It’s that time of year again, when men and women proudly and unapologetically don lederhosen and dirndls,* wander about, giant beer stein in hand, and joyously shout “prost!” to all who pass. Yes, friends, it’s Oktoberfest, despite it being only September (more about that later). From the first cry of “O’zapft is!”—meaning “it is tapped”—until the last stein is drained, Munich will come alive with music and merriment and massive crowds, hosting some six million extra people. Since crowds that size are awful and Munich is far away, and who has all that vacation time anyway, Man Crates is proud to present our “Oktoberfest at Home” Guide, with tips and tricks to feeling wunderbar while remaining stateside during the world’s largest Volksfest.
Oktober in September?
Following calendars can be confusing—sequential dates, what?—but they are made all the more confounding when something that seems like it should occur in one month, because its name suggests it would, in reality occurs in another month altogether. Clearly, following rules is not a German thing. So why is Oktoberfest in September? The festivities originally began in 1810 to celebrate the marriage of Bavarian Crown Prince Ludwig to Princess Therese von Sachsen-Hildburghausen, starting October 12 and ending on the 17th. The festival was eventually extended and moved into September when the nights were warmer, letting celebrants stay out and enjoy the festivities longer. Well done, Oktoberfest. This tradition has carried on through today, and the last Oktoberfest weekend is in October, so perhaps it’s not entirely a misnomer after all.
Zuerst Things Zuerst
That means “first things first” for the non-Germans in the house. That also means getting a massive beer stein, a requirement for anyone wishing to celebrate in style and, well, appropriately. Our Personalized Oktoberfest Stein will keep things cool and eliminate the risk of beer—or stein—swiping. It’s also one of the best beer gifts, even for those who may not want to celebrate Oktoberfest (as if those people existed).
Benjamin Franklin said, “Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.” Franklin left this mortal coil prior to the first Oktoberfest, which may have been for the best, given his passion for drink. Save some for the rest of the crowd, Ben. But it’s a safe bet he would’ve had a great time. He also would’ve agreed that an empty Oktoberfest beer stein is a sad Oktoberfest beer stein, so, in honor of Ben, let’s keep that stein full. A Home Brewed Kit will help in that endeavor, as well as make the festivities even more personal than just a personalized stein (in this case the beer will be swiped, but that’s how it should be—sharing is caring). Plus, some of the best gifts for men are those that require a little work and ingenuity. A home brew kit promises a delicious payoff for a hard day at work.
Traditionalists may want to look to the Munich big six, the city’s major breweries in the haus at Oktoberfest—Augustiner, Hacker-Pschorr, Löwenbräu, Paulaner, Spaten and Hofbräuhaus—to keep things hop-ping at any at-home celebration.
There Will Be Brats
Or, at the very least, sausage. No true Oktoberfest celebration is complete without a sufficient amount of meat. Heck, no true day is complete without meat, but let’s stay focused. This beer-simmered bratwurst recipe is worth the time. Make it. Eat it.
What to use
6 cups light German ale
1 tbsp. caraway seeds
1 tbsp. coriander seeds
1 tbsp. mustard seeds
2 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. pepper
3 roughly chopped unpeeled onions
2 whole garlic cloves, smashed
1 piece of ginger 2 inches long, peeled and chopped
3 lbs. precooked bratwurst, pricked with a fork
2 tbsp. canola oil
How to use it
Preheat grill on high heat. Combine all ingredients except the brats in a large stockpot. Then add the bratwurst, place the pot on the grill grates and bring to a simmer. Simmer for approximately 5 minutes until the brats are half-cooked. Remove from the grill and let sit for 30 minutes, then transfer the brats to a platter. Strain the liquid into a bowl but toss the solids. Brush the brats with the canola oil and grill until crisp, brown and cooked through.
The Personalized Oktoberfest Crate has Inglehoffer Stone Ground Mustard, which will complement the brats nicely. It may also compliment them: “Brats, you are so lovely and warm and delightful! Let us unite and be one!”
Not in My House!
Not everybody wants to celebrate Oktoberfest at home. And to be truly traditional, it should be celebrated in a crowd. Not necessarily a crowd of six million, but a couple hundred, or hundred thousand in some cases, isn’t bad. Many cities have serious Oktoberfest celebrations and most will at least have a German bar to clink and drink. Cincinnati’s Oktoberfest-Zinzinnati may be the heir apparent to Munich’s party—it draws approximately half a million each year and holds the record for both the largest chicken dance and largest kazoo band, either of which is reason enough to move to Cincinnati. San Francisco’s Oktoberfest by the Bay boasts “sizzling oompah music” and the glorious views of the bay—what’s not to like about that? A quick search will reveal what other cities do right by Oktoberfest as well as the location of any German bars also keeping spirits high.
It’s Not Just About Beer. No, Really.
Well it is, but it’s also about being smart. Munich knows public transportation is where it’s at when it comes to getting around during Oktoberfest. Anyone celebrating should follow that lead, and when that’s not possible, every city has taxis, Uber and Lyft. Keeping things on the homestead eliminates all worry, and Man Crates makes hosting the party easy with the best beer gifts.
*This is not to suggest that lederhosen or dirndl would ever be unacceptable garb—we support wearing them any time of the year.