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A Pint of History: Summit Oktoberfest

How Awesome Is Oktoberfest? The Most Awesome

Do you like to party?
Oktoberfest, held in Bavaria for two-plus weeks nearly every September and October since 1810, is the world’s most famous beer party. First held to honor the marriage of Prince Ludwig and Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen, it takes place at Munich’s Theresienwiese festival grounds and features parades, sausage, pretzels, polka, costumes of traditional German dress, and a metric equivalent of, like, an ocean or two of beer.

Do you like to drink beer?
Summit Oktoberfest, brewed every fall since 2001, is our brewery’s most popular seasonal beer and Minnesota’s closest thing to Munich. Crafted, poured and drank from das boot in honor of Germany’s most excellent beer festival, our Märzen-style Oktoberfest is brewed consistently year in and year out with a complex malt bill featuring Moravian 37 barley, Munich malt and more. Also featuring a hop charge of Northern Brewer, Tettnanger and Saaz hops, Summit Oktoberfest is finished with a genuine Czech Lager yeast to offer up rich toffee malt flavors and a clean hop finish that’s as crisp as the crunchy, colorful leaves that your dang neighbor’s tree will soon drop all over your lawn. It’s also over 6.5% ABV, making it every bit as fun as a fast-playing polka band in the middle of Munich’s town square.

Whether we’re talking about our beer or that big sixteen-day Bavarian blowout, the same can be said for each: Oktoberfest is better than sixteen Christmases put together. And though the 17-year history behind our beer isn’t quite as impressive as the German festival’s 200-plus-year run, the tradition behind Summit Oktoberfest is plenty rich.

Summit Lore
First introduced in September 2001 with a big ol’ whoopin’ tent party in our brewery’s parking lot, our initial Oktoberfest beer tipped the scales at nearly 8% ABV. Flavorful and ridiculously drinkable, its strong-as-heck ABV snuck up on a few unsuspecting beer lovers.

According to Mikey Lundell, Summit’s longest-tenured brewer, things got a little wild with the polka band and bagpipes and all that, and according to legend, a fistfight broke out when one woman took issue with her husband’s wandering eye. “She got a few good knocks in,” says Mikey, but the fight, fortunately, was broken up before things escalated further.

More Drinkable Every Year
Since that first year, while Summit Oktoberfest has retained the same ingredients, color and overall characteristics, its ABV has been gradually toned down a bit, landing safely in the range of 6.5 to 6.7% most years. Keeping the ABV in this neighborhood means the beer’s a bit more enjoyable because, well, you can drink a bit more without worrying about misbehaving. And one beer is never enough, you know? It’s not like you’d travel to Bavaria and drink just one beer, would you?

Travel Tips from Brewer Mikey
On that note, if you are planning a trip to Oktoberfest, our resident festival expert Brewer Mikey has a few tips. (And they’re good ones, seeing as he’s gone to the party each of the past three years.)

  • Centered in Wiesn, a colloquial name for the fairgrounds, the party extends in all directions and gets crowded. Should you want a table for food or drink on a weekend, you’ll need reservations. Weekdays are much less busy.

    Brewer, Mike Lundell
  • Forget cars and ride the trains. Mike’s traveled from Bavaria to Austria to Nuremberg to Cologne to Dusseldorf and back to Munich on the trains, and he loves them. “You can order food and beer at the station, and then just get on the train with your beer. Train beers! Traveling at 180 mph!”
  • If you go to Dusseldorf, don’t forget to bring back altbiers for your friends. They will be mad if you forget.
  • Drink Augustiner beer in Munich. Established in a monastery nearly 700 years ago, it’s Munich’s oldest independent brewery.
  • Eat lots of chicken and fish. And eat currywurst with Helles beer. And eat schweinhaxe, too, which is a roasted pork shoulder. Eat whatever you can whenever you can, and stay hydrated. Only the strong survive Oktoberfest.
  • Learn German phrases like “Excuse me, is this seat free?”
    • That’s “Bitte entschuldigen Sie! Ist der Platz frei?”
    • Says Mike: “It’s always great to practice German when you’re drunk because you don’t care if you sound like a $%&@.”
    • “There are no boundaries with strangers, there’s no shyness. Unlike in Minnesota where strangers don’t want to sit next to each other, in Germany you just go up to someone and ask if the seat next to them is available, take it, and then you chat!”
  • Make sure to come home and drink plenty of Summit Oktoberfest.
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