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Travel + Culture

More From Munich

Oktoberfest is the world’s largest beer festival. More than 6 million people will attend this year’s, which started on Saturday and runs until October 10th. Writer Jesse York will be sending us reports all week.

With sunbeams sparkling through the golden lager in my stein, the aroma of spit-roasted chicken perfuming the air, and traditional German music parsing through the breaks in table conversation, I found the Oktoberfest that I had been searching for in the Augustiner tent.

Having been brewed in Munich since at least 1328 (yes, that’s nearly 700 years of brewing), Augustiner’s helles beer is a favorite among the people of Bavaria. One taste and it became clear why: it’s all about the malt, which lends the beer a bouquet of fresh baked bread that’s gently punctuated by noble hops. Of course, since it’s the locals’ preferred beer, it also has the festival’s preferred tent. When I got there early in the afternoon, I had planned on simply having a beer and grabbing some quick lunch. Instead, after being coerced by some friendly locals—the incredible beer and chicken helped, too—I stuck around spent a rowdy night drinking, eating, singing, and dancing until they closed the tent at 11.

Of course, a night of revelry like that generally results in a morning of misery, and it goes without saying that I was in pretty bad shape when I woke up today. The beer and the jet lag both caught up to me, so I opted to avoid the festival grounds for a while. Instead, I headed into the heart of Munich and was happy to find a large open market in the city’s old town, full of butchers, charcutiers, cheesemongers and fresh produce. I made my way over to a stand serving wurstsalat, a traditional “salad” of cured pork sausage slices, pickles, onions, and radishes.

The sausage salad did the trick, and pretty soon I was making my way over to the Franziskaner beer hall. On offer was a roast suckling pig that had been basted with the brewery’s classic dark wheat beer, but I had to (reluctantly) turn it down in favor of several specials making use of plump, seasonal chanterelle mushrooms. It was definitely the right choice; my order of a giant bread dumpling surrounded by creamed chanterelles was the perfect complement for Franziskaner’s signature weisse

Tomorrow it’s off to Prague for a quick sampling of Bohemian brews, before returning to Munich and, hopefully, that beer-basted pig.