Ain’t that the question? Year after year, it has been on my mind, and today, together, we are gonna finally figure out the damn answer.
I’m not sure what my German grandfather would say about this question. Actually, he’s dead, so probably not much. If he were alive, he was stubborn, and a man of few words, so, again, probably not much.
So, I did some digging around on these interwebs. Turns out Prince Ludvig (not the composer) got married to a nice gal, Teresa Longlastname, in early October 1810. He was a big showboat and wanted a big party, so he invited everybody (and I mean EVERYBODY) to party outside of the town gates. And a big party in those days, means people had to travel by foot or horseback, so therefore, you may as well stay for a while. So they partied for weeks on end, probably from the last week of September until the 12th of October.
The main feat of the event was, sadly, not beer. It was horse racing. Don’t you love Oktoberfest horse racing? No? Me neither, that tradition died ages ago. But I suppose it was a lot of fun if you rode your horse halfway across the country for a party. This big party was so great, they started doing it every year. They even named the grounds after the queen to be, Theresienwiese” or, now, just “Wiesn”.
Beer tents popped up and eventually evolved into beer buildings, beer gardens, and beer fields. As parties do, Oktoberfest eventually became a better event because of the beer.
The traditions have continued and changed over the years. Hammer-Nagel (this is the non-copyrighted name for your favorite German hammer and nail game), curiously enough, is a Minnesotan tradition with German roots. It’s played throughout the year but really shows up big at Oktoberfests.
If you were to travel to the real Oktoberfest in Germany today, you would see roller coasters and tents and lederhosen. If you were to travel to Roundhouse Brewery on September 19th, 20th, 21st, you may see two of those things.
So yeah! Come join us! Drink Der Zug to your hearts’ content, in a big ‘ol stein. Party in your lederhosen (although you won’t look as good as Chuck).
So did we get to the bottom of it? I guess so, but I think it is more important that you get to the bottom of your stein!
Zach is a local beer blogger, who keeps up with all Northern MN beers and breweries. When he is not writing for us, you can check him out at zacharoobrew.com, or find him homebrewing in his garage.