Let’s be real: if you’re attending Oktoberfest, you need to be ready to drink.
In fact, 6 million litres of beer are guzzled down each year at Oktoberfest. That’s a LOT of beer. And while there are plenty of fun activities to try at Oktoberfest, there’s no doubt that drinking is at the top of the list. Thanks to Bavarian Purity Laws (which dictate Bavarian beer may only consist of water, malt, hops and barley), the beer here is some of the tastiest in the world, and there’s no better backdrop to sip it than the world-famous Oktoberfest.
That said though, understanding the beers/drinks at Oktoberfest can be overwhelming for a first timer. I remember my first time attending, I mistakenly had 5 litres in a day (yes, you read that. FIVE) without realizing the alcohol content levels or even that there were different beers available. Yes, it was embarrassing.
SO, if you’re headed to Oktoberfest for the first time, here is an Oktoberfest drinks guide to help you understand the different types of drinks, beers, breweries and more you can expect at the festival.
IMPORTANT NOTE: I’d highly advise against pre-drinking for Oktoberfest. Yes, drinks are expensive, but even after one, you’ll feel sufficiently tipsy and will prooobably order another. So on and so forth. It’s a slippery slope. Pre-drinking will very likely destroy you and you’ll be in bed by 2pm! Remember to treat drinking at Oktoberfest like a marathon rather than a sprint.
Some basic Oktoberfest Beer Facts
The beer served at Oktoberfest is special.
While all Bavarian beer is delicious, the festival’s special ‘Oktoberfest beer’ offers a unique experience you won’t get any other time of year. What is Oktoberfest beer, you ask? Well, during the festival, each of Munich’s ‘big 6’ breweries serves up a special beer that has been brewed specifically for the occasion. The result? A deadly combination of deliciously drinkable beers and a stronger alcoholic content. On that note, it’s important that you remember the following…
Oktoberfest beer is stronger than regular beer.
Oktoberfest beers all clock in around 6% alcohol content, so beware! And yes, while they ARE stronger than regular beers in terms of guaranteed buzz, they also happen to be deceptively smooth and drinkable, so pace yourself accordingly.
Different tents serve different beers.
As I alluded to before, there are six breweries in Munich known as “the Big Six” that dominate the local beer scene (and therefore the Oktoberfest drinks scene as well). Everyone has their favourite, but of course you should try them all for yourself to see 😉 The friendly rivalry between these breweries of course means that you can’t just walk into a tent and order all of them to try… Each tent will usually serve beer from only one brewery, so choose carefully!
Here is a list of tents where you can find each ‘Big Six’ beer around Oktoberfest:
Augustiner: Augustiner-Festhalle, Fischer-Vroni
Paulaner: Armbrustschützenzelt, Winzerer Fähndl, Käfer’s Wies’n Schänke
Spaten-Franziskaner: Marstall, Schottenhamel, Ochsenbraterei/Spatenbräu-Festhalle
Löwenbräu: Schützen-Festzelt, Löwenbräu-Festhalle
Hacker-Pschorr: Hacker-Festzelt, Pschorr-Bräurosl
Hofbräu: Hofbräu Festzelt
Don’t expect a lot of choice and selection.
Bavarians know their beer, and they like to keep things simple. When you walk into a tent, your choices in terms of beer are usually limited to the following types:
Helles: Light beer, the most common one
Dunkel: Dark beer
Radler: Half helles, half fizzy lemon soda (think Sprite). Super refreshing and delicious. Often used to avoid getting drunk too quickly
Alcohol-free: Pretty self-explanatory.
Hefeweizen: Wheat beer, available at some tents
Oktoberfest Drinks FAQ: What if I Don’t Like Beer?
While beer is (of course) a quintessential part of Oktoberfest, it’s possible to not like beer and still have a great time. After all, there are Oktoberfest drinks besides beer to enjoy 😉 Here are a few options for you.
Visit the Wine Tent (Weinzelt).
The best wine selection you will find at Oktoberfest. It’s not cheap, but you can get 250mL glasses of wine from 12€ – 15€, or bottles from 38€ upwards. Note: the vibe and crowd here are very different from the rest of the festival. Do not spend all your time here if you intend on having a ‘classic Oktoberfest experience’.
Head into some of the smaller tents/stalls.
You’ll find a few stalls that sell schnapps and other spirits around the festival grounds. Schiebl’s Kaffeehaferl for example is a small tent with a 100 person capacity that serves wines, spirits and is known for their Irish Coffee.
Try sipping on radlers.
Radlers are half beer, half fizzy lemon soda combos that are refreshingly delicious and palatable. The soda really helps lighten up the beer flavour, and is often quite well-liked by even the most beer-averse drinkers.
… Or just try some of the beer.
While you’re in Munich, just try one. I used to not like beer that much but found that the stuff here in Bavaria is just way better than what we have at home. Who knows? It might convert you!
Oktoberfest Drinks FAQ: What if I don’t drink alcohol?
While Oktoberfest is (at the end of the day) just a massive party, there are still some options for those who prefer to not drink alcohol. Here are a few:
Drink alcohol-free beer.
This will be available at every tent.
Enjoy some soft drinks.
Every tent will also have soft drinks like soda, water and juice. Popular choices in Bavaria include Spezi (a half Coke half Fanta mix) and Apfelshorle, a fizzy apple drink that at least somewhat resembles the colour of beer 😉
Sing, dance, and enjoy the experience with an open mind.
I have to reason with you: if you’re not a laid back person, attending Oktoberfest sober will not be your cup of tea. People will be very very drunk and belligerent, the tents will likely smell and the crowds will sometimes feel suffocating. If, however, you go in with these expectations already in mind, and are happy to enjoy the festival as a fun experience, then you will have a great time! Plus, there are plenty of other activities and foods to try, so you’ll be kept busy.
So, are you ready to get your drink on? I hope you enjoyed this Oktoberfest Drinks guide! Any further questions? Let me know in the comments!
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