"O'zapft is!" (Bavarian for “Tapped it is!”)
With this exclamation, the mayor of Munich opens each year the Oktoberfest – giving the go-ahead to around six million visitors who come every year to celebrate Bavarian tradition and Munich's beer culture. The city's urban operating regulations state that only beer from traditional Munich breweries is allowed to be served on the premises of the famous festival. More specifically: a specially brewed festival beer with a wort gravity of at least 13.5 percent.
But let's start at the beginning: the history of the Oktoberfest began with the wedding of Crown Prince Ludwig of Bavaria to Princess Therese of Saxony-Hildburghausen on October 17 of the year 1810. A horse race was held in honor of the newlyweds - at that time, just outside the city. The groom would later become renowned, as King Ludwig I, for rearranging Munich, while the bride became the eponym of the festival's premises, called today “Theresienwiese” (Therese's Meadow). The Oktoberfest has been held there ever since – earning in Munich the lovingly Bavarian nickname "Wiesn". In due time the city grew - today the Theresienwiese is located amidst the hurly-burly of city life, between Bavariaring and Theresienhöhe.
Already the very first Oktoberfest entertained its visitors with attractions around the horse race, including all sorts of booths offering food and beverages. In the 1880s though, the Royal Bavarian funfair transformed more and more into a beer festival. Naturally, beer had already been flowing before that: the earliest visual proof of our Augustiner-Bier being served at the Oktoberfest dates back to 1867. We served our, nowadays classic, "Wiesn-Edelstoff" for the first time in 1953. This then new, lighter festival beer was so popular that it gradually replaced the at the time customary “Märzenbier”, (special kind of Bavarian lager beer). Of course, in the meantime we also introduced our "Augustiner Oktoberfestbier", a special brew that exists only during the Wiesn.
By the end of the 19th century, more and more showmen and carousel owners were entertaining the people, who also were taking seats in ever larger tents in order to enjoy their beer. The first, from today's perspective, characteristically large beer hall was built up in 1895. The Augustiner Brauerei built a festival hall in the style of a castle in 1903. While building a new tent in 1926 – 80 meters long and 40 meters wide with room for 3,000 guests – our brewery established the “Augustiner-Turm” (Augustiner Tower), a widely visible Oktoberfest-landmark. Even today's hall, the “Augustiner Festhalle”, was built following that model. On the occasion of the 200th anniversary of the Oktoberfest, we rebuilt the Augustiner-Turm itself as well. A storage for wooden barrels is located on the first floor of the tower and a lift transports the 200-liter barrels – called “Hirschen” – directly down to the bar counter of the hall.
Munich celebrated the 200th Oktoberfest anniversary in 2010 with the "Historische Wiesn" (Historical Oktoberfest) - true in style to the past with horse races, old rides and booths. Since then, the cozy "Oide Wiesn" (Old Oktoberfest), which is organized by the association “Festring München e.V.”, regularly takes place adjacent to the Oktoberfest with its modern rides. In the reminiscent “Festzelt Tradition” ("Festival Tent Tradition”), guests drink their beer from “Keferloher Tonkrügen” (local type of earthen beer mugs also known as "steins") that used to be popular in the past.
Augustiner has one ironclad rule about the Wiesn, nowadays like in the past: our Augustiner Oktoberfestbier is served from wooden barrels only. Therefore Augustiner Brauerei is the last remaining brewery at the world's biggest funfair to exclusively roll out wooden barrels to its Wiesn-counters, where they are freshly “o'zapft” (tapped).