Those words signalled the start of the 178th Oktoberfest, the biggest beer festival in the world, the biggest fair in the world and perhaps the most famous party in the world.

This year was the 201st anniversary of an event which began as an elaborate wedding commemoration for Crown Prince Ludwig (later King Ludwig I) and Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen (who had narrowly avoided marrying Napoleon) in 1810.  It proved so popular that it quickly became an annual affair, cancelled only because of major wars, and/or outbreaks of pestilence. 
The estimated 6.9 million visitors in 2011 drank a record 7.5 million litres of beer over the 17-day event.  To put that in context and to demonstrate the huge growth in Oktoberfest’s popularity, in 1910 – the 100th anniversary – revellers quaffed a comparatively paltry 120,000 litres.  In addition to hundreds of thousands of sausages, pork knuckles and roast chicken, the partygoers also chomped through 118 oxen and 53 calves this year. 

A total of 4,750 items were handed into lost and found including 1,045 passports, 520 wallets, 390 mobile phones, a live 8-centimetre grasshopper, one large Viking helmet, a set of plane tickets, a large number of wedding rings, two crutches, a walking frame, a set of dentures and 48 children. [1] Worryingly, the organizers were reportedly pleased that there were “only” 58 brawls in which drinkers used their one-litre beer mugs as weapons.  This is apparently down on last year.

Despite the festival’s long history, it is now a very modern event.  Beer prices have broken the nine Euro mark ($15 for a litre), [2] all the tents are completely non-smoking and Oktoberfest now has a number of i-Phone apps.  One of the most popular – – promises to answer critical questions such as “Is the beer tent still open?”, “How full will it be next Saturday?” and “ How drunken am I after two Mass?” [3]

The ‘drunkenness check’ function allows you to “count the beers you have already drunken and show it to your friends on Facebook!  The app will calculate consistent with your weight and height how much blood alcohol you have and on which time you are going to be sober again.” [4]

Whoever wrote the Oktoberfest Dictionary also seemed to struggle a bit with the English language part.  The lexicographer refers the rather unappetising dishes called “Sucking Pig” and “Fish on a Shaft”.  Partygoers might also wonder why the dictionary includes words for chaos, spanking, an offended person, being put in jail, a crook or rascal, “a sexual state of emergency”, urinating outside, “luxuriantly breasts” and at least five words for drunk. [5]

However, the dictionary does confirm that beer is available in one-litre, three-quarter litre, half-litre and even one-quarter litre glasses at the festival.  However, it considers three-quarter pints the preserve of older people without much money while a quarter litre glass (Quartl) is “considered absurd and ludicrous at the Oktoberfest.”

To honour the spirit of Oktoberfest, Malthouse will be holding the Second Annual Malthouse Octoberfest on Saturday 22 October 2011 from 6:30pm.  In addition to the usual extensive range of beers, Hofbrau Oktoberfest (6.3%) will be pouring.  Here is what the brewery has to say:

 “For this occasion, Hofbrau brews a rich, full-bodied beer which goes down ideally with traditional Bavarian cuisine.  With its deliciously bitter taste and alcoholic content of 6.3% volume, Hofbrau Oktoberfestbier is as special as the Beer Festival itself.”

Malthouse remains unconvinced that Kiwis are really into authentic Bavarian delicacies such as Haxn (pork knuckle), Kasspatzn (cheese noodles) or Obatzda (a fatty, spiced cheese-butter concoction), but there will be plenty of bratwursts and other goodies on the barbeque.

The staff may not know it yet but they are going to be in authentic Bavarian outfits for the event.  There is a rumour that the Handsome yet Softly Spoken Scottish Proprietor Colin Mallon is considering wearing the actual dress he models for the publicity poster, as seen on the window at the pub or on the Malthouse Facebook page (link below) .  However, we are hopefully the injunction will come through in time and he will simply wear very tight lederhosen. [6]

If Facebook is accurate, Lederhosen are slightly more than twice as popular as Phil Goff.  The Lederhosen page has 10,062 likes while Mr Goff has 4,536 (admittedly up from 19 at the same time last year.)  Thankfully, the group “I am morally opposed (but secretly attracted) to lederhosen” has fallen victim to Facebook’s seemingly random changes and no longer exists.

Malthouse Octoberfest 2011 – Oans-zwoa-drei-g’suffa (“One, two, three, drink!”)

[1] The children were all claimed before the fair ended.  Bizarrely, the crutches and dentures were not.
[2] This is actually a very clever money pun as the German currency was previously the Mark.  Water is seven Euros a litre (NZ$7) at Oktoberfest.
[3] Mass – the traditional one-litre beer glass, not the religious ceremony.
[4] It does however appear to be in German which may limit its utility for avid readers of this blog.
[5] And that is only A-G.  It gets much worse later on.
[6] Very much the lesser of two admittedly large evils.


Beer Writer
Real Beer New Zealand
Beer and Brewer Magazine


Oktoberfest App –
The Oktoberfest Dictionary –
Colin in “that dress” –
Lederhosen – Facebook Page –
Malthouse on Twitter –
Malthouse Facebook Group –
Real Beer – 
Beer and Brewer Magazine –