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Oktoberfest: The World's Largest Beer Celebration

August 24, 2018
How much do you know about this German festival? Put your knowledge to the test.

Inspired by the original Oktoberfest in Bavaria, Germany, there’s no better place in Virginia to experience the untranslatable Gemütlichkeit at the Busch Gardens Bier Fest in Oktoberfest village.

What Is Oktoberfest?

Oktoberfest is the world’s largest beer fest celebrating good beer and good cheer. It started back in 1810, when Crown Price Ludwig I invited the public to celebrate his marriage to Princess Therese. What’s become one of the largest celebrations in the world was also the inspiration for Oktoberfest village, at Busch Gardens Williamsburg, with its community hall, food and festivities, including our annual beer festival.

Guests raising a glass of beer to toast at Bier Fest

What beer is served at Oktoberfest?

At the original Oktoberfest, only Munich breweries are allowed to sell in beer tents. For centuries, these famed breweries have been held to Germany’s legendary Bavarian Purity Requirements from 1516, which mandate that only water, barley and hops may be used to brew beer. Yeast was added later when it was discovered.

The breweries traditionally serve lager beer, including märzen, a malty flavored Bavarian lager. Other German beer styles include helles, dunkel, bocks, wheat ales, like hefeweizen, and more. Raise a pint of Hofbräu (established 1589) or Warsteiner (1753) at this year’s Bier Fest, where you’ll find a wide variety of beers and styles.

Beer being poured at Bier Fest

So really, what’s Gemütlichkeit?

Just because there’s no English word for gemütlichkeit doesn’t mean you can’t experience it. Gemüt means “mind,” so gemütlichkeit is more of a state of mind. Think of it as a friendly, cheerful peace-of-mind at a cozy place. Like with a freshly tapped German beer at Bier Fest, perhaps. Ahhh… Now you’re talking our language.

Ambassadors dressed in traditional Oktoberfest garb

What's a Firkin Keg?

A firkin is an English unit of measure, one quarter of a barrel. A firkin keg is used to create cask ale, or real ales in the UK, unfiltered beer containing live yeast that’s conditioned and served in its keg. It uses gravity instead of carbon dioxide to push the beer out. The result is a softer, less carbonated beer. It’s typically served warmer than regular beer to allow the aromas and taste nuances better.

During Bier Fest, we’ll be tapping the firkin keg every Friday at noon. Now that’s how you start the weekend.

Tapping of the Firkin Keg at Busch Gardens Bier Fest

Not a fan of beer? What other adult beverages are at Oktoberfest for non-beer drinkers?

Germans love their beer, but they also love wine. Oktoberfest, in Germany, serves over 15 varieties of wine, sparkling wine and champagne. At Bier Fest, we’ll be serving ciders for non-beer drinkers to share in the celebration.

Beer maiden serving drinks at Busch Gardens Bier Fest

What's the best Oktoberfest food?

We’re serving up some traditional German food at Bier Fest. Several types of schnitzels, landjäeger (smoked and dried sausages), bratwurst and our take on riesenbrezels (giant pretzels) with bacon salt. Because everything’s better with bacon. Even salt.

Traditional German food served during Bier Fest

How do you say "Cheers" in German?

If you’re going to speak Oktoberfest, the first word to learn is “Prost!” which means “Cheers!” You’ll also hear people say “Zum Wohl,” which means “to your health.” We’ll drink to that.

Group of guests raising a glass of beer to cheers at Bier Fest