I still remember my visit to the great Oktoberfest in Munich, the world’s biggest beer festival. Mysteriously it’s not held in October at all - or rather it doesn’t start in October but in September - kicking off this weekend.
Although there is a fair amount of drunkeness (mainly at night), during the day it’s very much a family affair with Müncheners of every age and ethnic background dressing up in the traditional dress of dirndl and lederhosen. The whole thing is incredibly joyous and good-humoured.
There’s plenty to drink (obviously) and eat too, not least the brilliant butter-slathered roast chicken they serve in the tents (some of which hold literally thousands of people) and one of the best potato salads I’ve ever eaten.
It struck me that if you can’t get to Munich this would be a fun way to entertain at home. You can easily buy Oktoberfest beers which tend to be brewed in the traditional Märzen style, so called because they were brewed in March but not released till September. They’re strong golden lagers with a sweet malt character - as opposed to the helles beers (light lagers) that are served in the tents.
You could serve a choice of both with a big platter of German-style cold meats and sausage and the fabled potato salad which you can find here. Finish with a Black Forest gateau (or the chocolate and cherry roulade in my food and beer book An Appetite for Ale) and a cherry beer and you’ll have treated your friends to a great evening.
Photo by Vanessa Courtier