A visit to Munich, Germany in October means stepping back in time to the days of endless beer and almost non-stop parties. Welcome to ... Oktoberfest!
Celebrating Oktoberfest 2023
While Oktoberfest is celebrated far and wide, Munich beer is where it all begins this year back when it officialllky kicks off in Germany's beer capital on Saturday, September 16 for a two-week celebration ending on Monday, October 3, 2023.
Because the hot summer months are hard on beer brewing chemistry, a special beer called Märzen is always brewed in March with a higher alcohol content (usually 5-6%) to last through to October.
If you're looking to host an authentic Oktoberfest or beer tasting party, look in stores for special beer made in the Oktoberfest tradition like Samuel Adams Oktoberfest or Great Lakes Oktoberfest. For more authentic brands, try German imports such as Hofbräu, Paulaner or Beck's which also produce special Oktoberfest beer this time of year.
As they say in Germany, “Prost!” (Cheers!)
Just up ahead, find out more about food & party ideas to celebrate the most festive of German traditions (with recipes below) along with Oktoberfest fun facts and more on German-American Oktoberfest celebrations coast to coast...
DID YOU KNOW? Munich Oktoberfest trivia & fun facts:
Oktoberfest in Munich.
• The very first Oktoberfest dates back to 1810 at a wedding celebration for Crown Prince Luitpold I and Princess Theressa of Bavaria. A large meadow in Munich was the scene of the royal reception which included a horse race, music, dancing and singing together with beer, and lots of it.
• Today, Oktoberfest kicks off with a parade to the fairgrounds where the mayor awaits to open the first keg. When he exclaims, “O’zapft is!," (“It’s tapped!”), the party begins.
• The Dirndl is the traditional dress worn worn by "Bier Frolleinsseen" (bar maids) during Oktoberfest.
• Oktoberfest beer maid Anita Schwarz set a world record in 2008 when she carried 19 steins of beer to a table 130 feet away -- without spilling a single drop.
Oktoberfest 2023 celebrations in the US nationwide
Nothing goes better with beer than authentic German food.The easiest foods to serve at Oktoberfest are frankfurters, sauerkraut, German potato salad and, of course, soft pretzels.
But if you're feeling ambitious, more authentic homemade German flavors can be found in a heaping plate of weiner schnitzel, or a pork roast with red cabbage.
Besides providing a taste of old Germany, these recipes also endure as real crowd-pleasers at any party with an Oktoberfest theme.
This dish is probably the most German-sounding of all dishes although - surprise! - what it translates to is simply: breaded veal cutlets. The trick to a good weiner schnitzel is pounding out the veal until it is almost paper thin.
Four 5-ounce veal cutlets, pounded 1/8" inch thick
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup flour
2 cups plain dried breadcrumbs
1 lemon, cut into wedges
1/2 cup chopped parsley
1. In a small bowl, whisk the eggs until frothy. Transfer to a large baking dish. Place flour into a large shallow dish. Place breadcrumbs into a third shallow dish and mix with salt and pepper.
2. Begin breading the veal cutlets by first dredging them through the flour, then dipping each into the egg mixture. Finally, dredge each veal cutlet through the breadcrumbs until each all of them are thoroughly coated.
3. In a large skillet, heat the oil and fry each cutlet until both sides are golden brown. Drain on paper towels.
4. Heat oven to 300 degrees F to keep cutlets crisp and warm before serving.
Sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve with lemon wedges.
Schweinebraten (German roast pork)
4-6 lb. pork butt or shoulder
2 tablespoons caraway seeds
1 tablespoon salt
2 teaspoons pepper
1 tablespoon oil
3 onions, chopped
3 carrots, chopped
1 cup beer
1. Rub the pork all over with the oil, caraway, salt, pepper and let marinate for at least a few hours.
2. Preheat oven to 350°F. Place the onions and carrots in the bottom of the roasting pan. Add the beer.
3. Place the roast, fat side down, in the roasting pan on top of the vegetables. Cover the pan with foil, place in the oven and roast for 1 hour.
4. Remove the foil from the pan and turn the roast fat side up. Cut crosshatches in the fat in a diamond pattern and place the roast, uncovered, back in the oven. Roast for another 2 to 3 hours or until the roast is well browned and the fat is crispy. A meat thermometer inserted into the center of the roast should read 165°F.
5. Remove the roast and let it rest for about 20 minutes before carving
6. Meanwhile, strain the pan juices and remove the vegetables to serve with the roast. Add water or beer to the pan juices to make 2 cups. Bring the pan juices to a simmer in a saucepan over medium heat, and thicken with flour if desired.
7. Slice the roast thinly and serve with gravy.
Rotkraut (red cabbage)
This is a traditional and savory side dish with German roast pork.
2 pounds red cabbage
4 slices bacon
1 onion, finely chopped
2 apples, peeled and diced
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons vinegar
1 cup water
Salt to taste
1 bay leaf
2 tablespoons red wine
1. Wash the cabbage thoroughly. Remove white stem and cut cabbage into quarters and then into thin strips.
2. In a large pot, fry the bacon until the fat is rendered. Remove the bacon but leave the fat in the pot. Add the onions, apples, and sugar, and cook until the onions are tender. Add the cabbage and cover with vinegar.
3. Cover the pot, and cook for 10-15 minutes.
4. Add 1/2 cup of the water, salt, bay leaf, and cloves. Cover again and cook for another 30 minutes or until the cabbage is soft. Check to add the remaining water if necessary, if the liquid begins to cook away.
5. Add the red wine and cook for an additional 10 minutes.
Easy Apple Strudel
Here's the German dessert recipe that includes ready-made puff pastry for easier preparation. Apple strudel is best served warm and topped with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream!
2 large apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 cup raisins
1/4 cup sugar
4 tablespoons butter
Flour, for dusting
1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a medium bowl, coat the sliced apples with the lemon juice and toss with raisins, 1/4 cup sugar, and cut in 2 tablespoons butter by crumbling it with your fingers. Set aside.
Lightly dust a large work surface with flour. Lay the puff pastry on top and roll the puff pastry to 1/8-inch thickness.
Spread the apple and raisin mixture over the bottom half of the puff pastry square (leaving about 1-inch of space along the sides.)
Fold the top half of the puff pastry over and seal top and bottom edges together.
Brush the top with 2 tablespoons melted butter and sprinkle with cinnamon and and sugar
6. Use a sharp knife to make 3 diagonal slits across the top of the strudel for venting.
Place the strudel on the baking sheet and bake for 40 minutes, until the pastry is golden brown.
More about Oktoberfest around the Web
Oktoberfest - The official site featuring the latest news, photo galleries, interactive map of all 14 major tents, message boards (in German only), FAQ and lots of interesting historical facts and trivia.
Oktoberfest in Munich - The official Munich Tourist site, featuring information on this years' events complete with streaming video for those who can't make it in person.
Oktoberfest - The whole history of the fall festival complete with pictures,
event dates, details on major tents, plus related links to Munich celebrations and those around the world, from Wikipedia.
Best Oktoberfest Recipe - The best red cabbage, black forest cake, schnitzel, German potato salad and more top food recipes
as rated by visitors at allrecipes.com
Send Oktoberfest Cards - A nice selection of cards featuring beer, wurst and Ludwig von Beethoven. Animated flash cards are almost as much fun as the festivities in Munich.