The biddies pivot to beer as they take a look at the history behind the world’s preeminent beer festival. Kara takes a detour into the affairs of Crown Prince Ludwig while Calla attempts to stay on task with a run-down of the type of beer and the traditional Munich breweries featured at Oktoberfest.


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Everything You Need to Know About Oktoberfest – Time

History of Oktoberfest – Meunchen

Why Does Oktoberfest Start in September? – Reader’s Digest

Kingdoms of Germany, Bavaria – History Files

10 Oktoberfest Traditions (

The Oktoberfest beer – Oktoberfest

The Ultimate Guide to Munich Breweries & Oktoberfest Beer (

Study Notes for Oktoberfest:

*Please note some of these lines might be directly taken from sources noted above.


  • September 17-October 3
  • It normally runs for 16 days with the last day being the first Sunday in October. However, if that 16 days falls before Oct. 3, it will last 17 or 18 days.


  • Annual celebration of the wedding of Bavaria’s Crown Prince Ludwig to Princess Therese of Saxony-Hildburghausen on October 12, 1810
  • The celebration then became an annual event.


  • Took place in Bavaria
    • Around 500 AD, Bavarii confederation is formed, made up of a number of tribes/peoples in what would later become Bohemia (Czech Republic), but within a few decades had moved south to territory which later formed Bavaria (Germany) and parts of Austria
    • Duchy of Bavaria emerges in 889 as a fragment of the Frankish empire
    • Becomes Kingdom of Bavaria in 1805 when French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte attempts ot make stronger states with larger territories out of an archaic mass of tiny states in the German territories – Kingdom of Bavaria under elector Maximilian I Joseph becomes one of the most powerful kingdoms, second to kingdom of Prussia
    • Ludwig, the son of Maximilian I, marries Therese of Saxony-Hildburghausen in 1810. Ascends the throne in 1825, ruled until 1848 when he abdicated the throne in favor of his eldest son Maximilian II, continued to be influential, big patron of the arts, commissioned many neoclasical buildings particularly in Munich
      • Wikipedia: “Ludwig’s rule was strongly affected by his enthusiasm for the arts and women and by his overreaching royal assertiv
      • eness.”Became part of Germany officially in 1918. Wittelsbachs remain a royal family but are not dukes as opposed to princes/princesses
  • 1810: Starting signal: The first Oktoberfest is opened with a big horse race. The occasion is the wedding of Bavarian King Ludwig I and Princess Therese of Saxony-Hildburghausen. The venue is a meadow (at that time) on the outskirts of the city, which is henceforth called “Theresienwiese” in honor of the bride.
    • Therese was a daughter of Frederick, Duke of Saxe-Altenburg, and Duchess Charlotte Georgine of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, eldest daughter of Charles II, Grand Duke of Mecklenburg-Strelitz. In 1809, she was on the list of possible brides for Napoleon, but on 12 October 1810 married the Bavarian crown prince Ludwig.
    • The wedding was celebrated for 5 days (a few starting dates listed, but most seem to land on Oct 12 as the date of the wedding, Oct 17 for date of the horse race
    • Putting up decorations in Max-Joseph Square took 6 weeks, lights were put on everything (I assume lanterns?)
    • 6000 people, members of the national guard and their families were welcomed to dine within 4 venues, everyone else was outside
    • 32065 buns, 3992 pounds swiss cheese, 400 kilos mutton, 8120 cervelat sausages and 13300 pairs of smoked sausage served for free (doubts about numbers)
    • Fact that the celebration was geared towards the people of the nation and not a religious group was novel at the time
  • 1811: The tradition begins: The Bavarian Agricultural Association decides to continue holding the festival – after all, a practical opportunity to showcase farming achievements.
  • 1818: The fun begins: The first merry-go-round and two swings are set up. From then on, there are more and more rides every year – today, more than a hundred rides offer fun to the visitors.


  • Munich, Germany – where the first Oktoberfest was held


  • Traditional Bavarian music, dirndls and lederhosen and lots of beer
  • BEER TENTS: Free to enter
    • Fourteen large tents in total packed with picnic tables and benches
    • Very community table type of feel
  • OUTFITS: Men wear lederhosen and women wear dirndls
    • When you tie your bow on the apron you tie it in a way to signify your relationship status – left means single, right means taken
  • THE BEER: All beers at Oktoberfest come from six Munich breweries: Hacker Pschorr, Hofbrau, Paulaner, Spaten, Lowenbrau and Augustiner
    • Traditionally served in one-liter krugs (steins)
    • Except for Weissbier (wheat beer) which typically comes in tall, fluted half liter glasses
  • THE FUN FAIR: Roller coasters, log flumes, ferris wheel
  • THE CHICKEN DANCE: Been a festival tradition for two decades
  • THE MUSIC: Popular drinking songs include the Ein Prosit, John Denver’s Country Roads and Asereje – the Ketchup song – which tells a story in Spanish that centers on the Sugar Hill Gang’s 1970 rap hit “Rapper’s Delight


  • Early on the beer likely served was a darker longer along the lines of current Munich Dunkels
  • In 1872 one of the approved Oktoberfest breweries ran out of the dark lager while serving attendees so they brought in a stronger Vienna style lager
  • After the first world war, the color of the beer fluctuated to the more coppery color and the alcohol content fluctated between 4-9%
  • All beer is of the Marzen variety, a low fermentation beer that can contain up to 6% alcohol and is actually stronger and darker than the traditional beer of Oktoberfest original
  • Name Marzen translates to March which was the month it used to be produced in
    • Cooler March temperatures allowed for the preservation of beer during the creation process before modern refrigeration techniques
    • Beer would be laid down in caves to ferment over the course of the summer
    • Slightly higher hop content allows for further preservation so that it could make it to the months of September and October without spoiling
    • An amber lager with a coppery color, a full bodied maltiness and hints of spice and dryness
  • Rules of Oktoberfest stipulate that only beer products from breweries in Munich can be served
  • They also most conform to the Purity Law or Reihetsgebot
    • Issued in Ingolstadt in 1516 had three aims: to protect drinkers from hhg prices; to ban the use of wheat in beer so more bread could be made, and to stop unscrupulous brewers from adding dubious toxic and even hallucinogenic ingredients to the beer
      • Rosemary, caraway, henbane, thorn apple, wood shavings, roots, soot, pitch
    • Original law limited ingredients to just barley, hops, water
    • Yeast has been allowed into it now but was missed originally because they didn’t understand the exact role of yeast in alcoholic fermentation at the time
  • LOWENBRAU: opened in 1690
    • Been participating since the very beginning in 1810
    • Lowenbrau means lion brew in German
  • SPATEN: One of the oldest German breweries still in operation today
    • Been brewing beer in Munich since 1397
    • Originally run by monks but over the past two centuries it’s been managed by the Sedlymyer family
    • First Marzen was introduced in 1841
  • HOFBRAU: founded in 1589 by Wilhelm V, Duke of Bavaria
    • To this day it is still run by the Bavarian government 
    • Beers brewed have been subject to royal whims
      • For instance Maximilian I, son and heir of Wilhelm V, didn’t like dark beers so he forbade every other brewery in the area from producing wheat beers so that Hofbrau could monopolize its production and perfect the recipe
    • Largest tent at the whole festival
  • AUGUSTINER: Founded in the old Augstiner monastery in 1328
    • Oldest Munich brewery still in operation today
    • Only Munich brewery left that still stores beer using wooden barrels
    • This makes them one of the favorites to visit because they are only brewery who will pour beer directly from a wooden barrel at the festival
    • Hacker beer tradition dates back to 1417 but today Hacker-Pschorr is the result of a merger in the 1970s of two Munich breweries
    • The Hackers and the Pschorrs exchanged ownership of the brewery several times in the late 18th century
    • Joseph Pschorr – specially commissioned by the Crown Prince of Bavaria in 1810 to create an original beer for his wedding and this is where Oktoberfest was born
  • PAULANER:  the youngest of the Munich breweries at Oktoberfest dating back to 1634
    • Brewed in the tradition of the Paulaner Monks whose loophole for fasting during lent is responsible for tradition of Starkbier or strong beer