Heading to Munich for the Big (beer) Dance? Here are the crucial nuggets you need to know.
By Patrick Annesty
1. At any beer-a-thon, hydration is critical. But in Munich, you pay for what you consume, including water. Sparkling mineral water—what the locals drink—costs about €2.50 and is served at room temperature. Ordering tap water is considered uncouth, though it’s potable.
2. When you buy a beer, you’ll pay a pfand, or refundable deposit, which acts as insurance should you crack your stein with a spirited “Prost!” But paying it doesn’t entitle you to keep the glass: Security checks bags as you exit tents, and taking a glass constitutes theft.
3. After a day of revelry with thousands of strangers, you stumble back to your hotel for a much-needed shower. Once under the water, you can’t find the soap, just a bottle labeled “duschgel.” In Germany, dusche simply means shower—go ahead and lather up.
4. The American dependence on credit cards doesn’t extend overseas; most tents operate solely on cash. Liters cost up to €9; meals, about €10. Expect to spend at least €50 a day or more depending on your habits and transportation to and from the fest, so bring plenty of euros.
5. German menu pricing automatically factors in taxes and a small gratuity; most servers take home 10 percent of their sales. However, a small tip, known as trinkgeld, or drinking money, ensures prompt service for future rounds. Generally, round up and throw in a couple extra euros.
6. Tents can hold up to 10,000 people. You may be tempted to get a better vantage point, to find your friends or capture the moment with a photo. Standing or dancing on benches is fairly common, but climbing onto the table will get you tossed.
7. There are 14 main tents at Oktoberfest, each with its own vibe. Do your research beforehand and arrive early. If you didn’t make tent reservations in advance, find a bench with some space and politely ask to sit. As long as you’re courteous, you’ll make new friends.
8. You’re a guest sharing in a 200-plus-year-old tradition, so act appropriately. Oktoberfest beers can contain up to 6.5% ABV, so each liter counts for about three standard 12-ounce lagers. Don’t end up a bierleichen (“beer corpse”), what Germans call someone who imbibes too much.