Back in October 1810 Crown Prince Ludwig married Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen and the people of Munich had a party.
It was such a great party that they decided to do it again the following year – the party, not the wedding – and the Oktoberfest was born.
Okay, there was a lot more to it than that, but you get the gist. If you want to know more, you can look it up.
The festival has changed a lot over the years. Horse racing, parades, fairgrounds and beer tents were added. It became popular, it became very popular, it became famous, it became infamous.
It became mass-marketed.
And every year identikit versions tour around the country pouring a mass-produced beer that can’t even legally be called an Oktoberfest Beer (the term is trademarked and restricted to the six breweries within the city walls of Munich that conform to the Reinheitsgebot), shipped in by tanker for the occasion and served in scratched, chipped plastic tankards for a price that’d make an MP rethink the legitimacy of their expenses claims.
Oktoberfest is no longer about celebrating tradition, it’s no longer about celebrating the harvest, it’s no longer even about celebrating the beer.
It’s become a caricature of itself. It’s become about drinking as much as you can out of as large a glass as you can. It’s cultural appropriation as an excuse to get drunk to the point of vomiting while wearing traditional garments as fancy dress.
And to be quite honest, we’re sick of it.
Every year the local breweries get asked why we don’t put on our own independent version. And every year we wonder why we don’t and fully intend to do something for the following year. And then every year we forget it about it until it’s too late.
But this year we’ve been asked about it in enough time to organise *something*. Not something huge. Not even something on the scale of the excellent We Are Lager Festival. But something pretty awesome nonetheless!
We’ve put the word out and the word has been heard. Breweries local and local-ish have offered up their wares, and their wares are good.
We can’t replicate an Oktoberfest, and there’s no way we’d want to try. It’s a celebration of the people and culture of Munich, not Manchester. But what we can do is celebrate the beer. We can look at why such a great thing came about, and stayed. The great beers. We can put on Märzensand Weisens, Helles and Bocks, Rauch lagers and, because we like them, some Pils.
We can raise a toast to the brewermeisters deserving of the name, the people who not only invented these styles, but kept them alive and independent when many others have disappeared or been bought up. And we can do that with beers brewed by a new wave of independents.
We can do this with OktoberFaust, putting the Prost back before the Profit.