How Americans Celebrate Oktoberfest

Oktoberfest dates back to what was essentially a massive wedding reception. In 1810, Prince Ludwig of the German state of Bavaria invited the entire population of Munich to rejoice in his marriage to Princess Therese. The focus of the day was a horse race, and, by all accounts, the 40,000 individuals in attendance also drank large amounts of beer. The revelers committed to do it again the next year, and a tradition was made. It was more than a century later that communities in the US caught on, but now the festivities grow more inventive every year. Here are five US Oktoberfest events worth checking out.

Oktoberfest-Zinzinnati, Cincinnati:
This undisputed king of American Oktoberfests was originally held in 1976. Now, it draws half a million individuals annually and has the odd distinction of threatening two of its own world records every year: the largest chicken dance ever and the largest kazoo band. The dance is often led by real-life rock stars. One drawback is that while the German version runs for more than 2 weeks, Cincinnati packs it into 2 days. The party is in the historic Fountain Square district in downtown Cincinnati. Aside from ample beer tents, the fest includes live German music on 7 stages and more than 30 food vendors.

Oktoberfest, La Crosse, Wisconsin
Wisconsinites are no strangers to German influence. The state is among those with the highest proportion of German Americans in the US. The Oktoberfest lineage in La Crosse, WI, dates back to 1961, and while it’s grown, the fest has preserved a laid-back vibe. The fest kicks off with the Festmaster Ball, in which the final member of the Oktoberfest Royal Family is announced. Other events include multiple parades, a craft beer night, heritage night (celebrating La Crosse’s Teutonic roots), a photo contest (no theme) and the Miss La Crosse/Oktoberfest beauty pageant.

Oktoberfest by the Bay, San Francisco
You may not have guessed it, but the Bay Area of California is home to 17 German clubs, all of which are represented at Oktoberfest by the Bay. Headlining the packed oompah music bill, is the 21-piece Chico Bavarian Band, a Blaskapelle (traditional Bavarian brass band). Another draw: fall weather in San Francisco is typically sublime, with sunny days in the 70s and pleasantly cool nights.

Hofbräuhaus, Las Vegas
Hofbräuhaus in Las Vegas kicked off Oktoberfest Sept. 17, and drives the party clear through to Halloween. The Vegas Hofbräuhaus is a reproduction of the world-famous Munich beer hall and to live up to that standard, starts every Oktoberfest weekend with a celebrity keg tapping. Siegfried & Roy are among the many stars who have done the honors in the past. Vintage Bavarian dress, music and high spirits are dominant throughout. Other properties hosting “fest events” include the Golden Nugget, Gordon Biersch Brewery and O’Sheas Casino because, you know, Ireland and Germany are both in Europe.

Oktoberfest, Mt. Angel, OR
This little community located 40 miles south of Portland, OR, with architecture, farmland and countryside starkly reminiscent of Bavaria, was settled by German pioneers in the 1800s. The town’s Oktoberfest, which started in 1966 as a harvest festival, is now the biggest festival in the Northwest, attracting more than 350,000 people for 4 days of live music, free “Kindergarten” rides and shows, street dancing, arts and crafts, traditional biergarten (and weingarten) and more than 50 food chalets.

Be sure to check in your local area as more Oktoberfest celebrations come about every year! Go forth and wear lederhosen, dance oompah, eat bratwurst and, yes, down a few beers. But keep it reasonable: There’s no Novemberfest, so if you forget all the fun you had you’ll have to wait an entire year to relive it.

The History of Oktoberfest

Oktoberfest has been around for over two hundred years! Over time, it has changed in many ways from the first event in 1810 and the complete focus of the festival has shifted during these last few centuries. Read below if you are curious to know how it all started!

The First Oktoberfest

The first Oktoberfest began in Munich on October 12, 1810 in celebration of the royal wedding between Crown Prince Ludwig (later King Ludwig I) and Princess Therese of Saxony-Hildburghausen. The celebrations were held on the fields outside of the city’s gates and lasted for five days. On the last day, horse battles were held to conclude the occasion. While there was food, beer and wine, this first Oktoberfest was only vaguely similar to the Oktoberfest we now celebrate. Today, this festival is synonymous with “beer fest,” but back in 1811 it was the horse battles that compelled the government to make it an annual event.

How Oktoberfest Progressed

Every festival needs activities. The horse races covered only one day of the event, so other attractions were included over time. In 1811, Oktoberfest got its own agricultural show that still runs today. Other attractions included bowling, swings, parades, tree climbing and carnival rides that gained popularity around the 1820s. Small beer stands gradually grew and by the late 1800s turned into beer tents selling beer from well-known breweries. Fascinatingly, horse races got the whole Oktoberfest phenomenon burned out and were no longer apart of the festival.  

While the first Oktoberfest took place in October, the dates were eventually moved back to appreciate longer and hotter September days. A modern Oktoberfest (or Die Wies’n as locals call it) is typically a sixteen-day event that runs from late September through the first weekend in October.

Oktoberfest Now

From what was originally a party for the citizens of Munich, Oktoberfest expanded to host all of Bavaria, and has now become an international event. It is still held in the same location as its origin in 1810, only now it is much closer to the center of Munich.

Germany and Bavaria are well-known for their world-renowned breweries and by the late 1800s beer became a huge part of the Oktoberfest celebration. Over one million gallons of beer are consumed each year at Oktoberfest. Many Oktoberfest traditions still include, or revolve around, beer. Each festival still begins with the tapping of the first keg by the Mayor of Munich.

Beers served in the tents at Oktoberfest always come from the six Munich breweries: Löwenbräu, Paulaner, Hacker-Pschorr, Hofbräu, Augustiner and Spaten. These breweries prepare a special Oktoberfest brew that is slightly sweeter and higher in alcohol content than their normal beer. This causes some inexperienced attendees to miscalculate their drinking capacity and turn into what Germans kindly call “beer corpses” (Bierleichen).

Oktoberfest Beer

The Oktoberfest Beer has also changed over time. Dunkel was the first beer served, then Marzan, and now Festbier. It may surprise many people, especially here in United States, that what we overwhelmingly consider the style of Oktoberfest, Marzan, is not what is served at Oktoberfest. This is actually a common misconception because Marzan was known as the original beer served at Oktoberfest.

Festbier, sometimes called Wiesn, Festbiere or Oktoberfestbier, a name that can only be used by Breweries in Munich, have taken the place of Marzan in the beer tents dotting the Theresienwiese (Therese’s meadow) in Munich during the Oktoberfest celebration. It is a relatively young, and mostly unknown, style here in the United States.

Oktoberfest Around the Universe

Even though it was originally a German festival, Oktoberfest has exploded in popularity and become part of many different countries annual traditions. It’s not only chosen by the Germans who live abroad or people with German roots but folks of all nationalities and ages are embracing the Oktoberfest tradition and the opportunity to immerse themselves in German culture. In the U.S., Oktoberfest events are held on many levels from private family parties to county and statewide festivals.

What Are Hops?

There are four simple ingredients that are vital to beer: malted barley, yeast, water, and hops. The first three ingredients listed are vital to creating alcohol. Hops are required for beer but not for malt alcohol/liquors. Throughout brewing history, brewers have looked for ways to bitter/flavor their sweet beers. Usually, using plants, roots, herbs, or a combination known as later known as Gruit.

Hop plants are rising vines (more accurately, bines: vines without tendrils). The plant part used in brewing beer is the hop flower; a gentle, pale green, papery cone, full of unpreserved resins. They give a beer tartness when used early in the brewing process, and its aroma when added at the end. As a bonus, hops preserve and prolong the life of beer.

In the hands of American microbrewers, hops have shifted from their position as the supportive actor in the beer ensemble, to the featuring role.

West Coast microbrewers paved the way for creating beers where the character of hops (tart, piney, grassy, floral, or fruity) took center stage. Beer admirers took satisfaction in looking for the brews with higher and higher international bittering units (IBUs); the measure of the concentration of hop compounds in beer.

High-hopped beers are not for everyone. For the hop seekers out there, there is a spectacular array of hop varieties with new ones being developed all the time!

Today, American brewers have increased the hopping levels of their IPAs to such an extent that a new beer style has emerged: so-called double or “imperial” IPA. These popular beers present even more hop power with alcohol volume to match.

There is a new style of beer that fits the descriptors even more than Imperial or Double IPA. That would be the New England/North East Style IPA. It is the definition of a hop showcase, with malts there to help balance the extreme juicy, citrus, tropical fruit notes.


What is a Pilsner?

When you go to a bar you’re always going to find plenty of different drafts to try. One beer that isn’t immediately gravitated to, but has inspired some of the world’s most well-known beers is the Pilsner. The Pilsner is the inspiration for all Pale Lagers made around the world, which includes Budweiser and Bud Light.

Pilsner is a type of pale lager that takes its name from Pilsen which is now located in the Czech Republic. The first pilsner came from a brewery called Citizen’s Brewery which is now known as Pilsner Urquell, which is still in production today.

Pilsner beers are medium to medium-full bodied and are characterized by high carbonation. Alcohol strength in these beers typically ranges from 4-5.5% ABV. Pilsners come in different styles based on what part of the world they are made in. Czech-style Pilsners use only Saazer hops vs “Noble” hops, which are the predominate flavor in other styles of Pilsner. These hops bring around an earthy and grassy flavor. All Pilsners, though, have a thick white head at the top of the glass, right above the golden liquid of a Pilsner.

Pilsner is a lager style of beer but has added hops. Josef Groll, who was from Bavaria brought Bavarian techniques to his brewing style, but the original beer was created in Pilsen. The first pale lager really focused on the creation of Pale Malts, having hop flavor become an afterthought while trying to balance the beer’s sweetness with the tastes of consumers.

For a Pilsner you should use a Pilsner glass (also known as a Pokal) this is a tall, slender and tapered 12-ounce glass. It allows for the beer to show off its light color but promotes the foam retention of the beer.

So if you’re looking for a light lager without a strong or bitter finish, try a Pilsner.

How to Pour the Perfect Pint

How to Pour the Perfect Pint

When pouring a draught beer there are several steps to follow to ensure a proper pint. Luckily, we’ve come up with this handy guide to help with your pouring needs.

First and foremost, make sure you have the correct glass for your pour. You can check out our handy guide if you need help.

Second, hold the glass at a 45-degree angle about one inch below the tap faucet. Now you’re going to want to open the tap fully and let the beer flow. Opening the tap partially will lead to excessive foam.

Third, let the beer flow down the side of the glass (still in the 45-degree angle) but don’t let the faucet touch the glass. Now’s the tricky part – tip the glass upright and pour down the center of the glass to create the perfect collar.

Once full, shut the tap off completely. If for some reason there is too much foam for your taste, allow the head to dissipate then pour again.

You’re only moments away from enjoying that cold beer, so take your time, follow our guide, and you’ll be sipping on a perfect pint.

How to Use Our Beer Finder

Looking to find a particular beer that you tried while out one night? Want to know what bars stock your favorite brew on draft? Looking to find out who is an M&M bar? Well never fear, Mclaughlin & Moran’s Beer Finder is here!

Our web site beer finder is your guide to where to get your favorite brews. Let’s say that you’re out one night and you try a beer that you absolutely love and want to find it again. Search the brewery and the beer’s name and voila – you’re sipping in no time.

What if you’re looking for your favorite beer and want to know what bars in the area carry it? No problem. Choose the brewery and beer again and type in your zip code. Within seconds there will be a list of all the local places that you can drink your favorite.

What if you’re a huge fan of McLaughlin & Moran and want to see what bars we distribute to? You can do that, too! All you have to do is search a zip code and what type of establishment you want to drink it at. Then there’s your list.

The options for our Beer Finder are endless. We’ve provided a searchable and unique database so that no matter what you’re looking for, you can always find it.


Beer and Food Pairings For Your Next Summer Party

As the days get longer and the sun shines brighter, you might be thinking about having a party. If beer and fantastic food are a priority for your party, we can tell you how you can throw a shindig you won’t forget! When drinking beer, food pairings are key. With many multifaceted flavors and extreme differences in flavors of beer (such as bready, caramel, molasses, hoppy, and citrusy) some pair much better with food than wine.

The two secrets to pairing a beer with what you’re eating are either accenting the food flavor or balancing it. Keep in mind that every taster has a unique palate. The strength of an IPA might pair perfectly with a spicy dish for those looking for some added intensity, but others might prefer an ale with a balancing malt character to keep the inferno at bay. It’s all about finding the harmonies that complement each other and staying away from any overpowering flavors. It can be difficult to find the perfect match, but perfection should not be the goal. Creativity and enabling others to open their minds by tantalizing their taste buds is your benchmark. If you take that approach, then your friends will undoubtedly enjoy themselves and discover something new.

If uncertain about pairings, go with a Belgian beer. These gregarious delicacies come in a variety of styles, but most share a yeasty, sweet, and spicy character that pairs with just about anything. They are far from overbearing, which makes them an excellent choice for even the most delicate of foods.

Remember, it’s the perfect time of year to be outdoors. This is your excuse to have a BBQ that your friends and neighbors won’t forget! Crank up the tunes, let the summer days go on, and have no fear of eating enormous amounts chased with a few frosty brews.

Summer Beer Pairings

Is there a better match than scorching days and cold beers? Here, we’ve grouped up our favorite summer foods along with what beer best suits the moment. The spring and summer of 2017 will be one of the countless turning points in the growth of beer gaining its rightful place at the table. Whether you are dining out, joining a pairing event or just cooking dinner in your household, watch for these new things to inhale new life into your pairing appreciation. Even the worst things about summer are better with a good beer (like mowing the lawn).

The two keys to pairing a beer with food are either accentuating a food flavor or balancing it. Keep in mind that every taster has a unique palate. The severity of an IPA might pair flawlessly with a spicy dish for those looking for some added intensity, but others might prefer an ale with a balancing malt character to keep the inferno at bay. It’s all about finding harmonies to complement each other and staying away from any overpowering flavors.

Eating a fish taco at the beach? Your best match is a Mexican lager in a tallboy, doctored up with a squeeze of lime and a drop of hot sauce. YUM!

Relaxing on the front porch with a hot dog on a warm day? You need a light, crisp German Kolsch in your hand. It’s super-refreshing, easy-to-drink and low-alcohol.

Hamburgers from the grill at your neighbor’s cookout? You will want a full-bodied lager if it’s a warm day; if it’s a cool night a brown ale.  

Cherry pie from a roadside restaurant? You will want a Stout. The darker the better. Trust us on this one.

Cheese and crackers at a picnic? You will want something indulgent and Belgian, like a fruity Saison or a lush Blonde Ale.  

Grilled sausage mid-afternoon at a soccer game? You will need something malty and Germanic, served in a mug large enough to make your wrist ache. 
Beer and great food is the perfect reward for an honest day’s work and the ultimate companion to celebrate life’s simple pleasures. Beer is a fantastic way to unwind after a long, blazing day. Stop and grab your favorite beer to make your summer days perfect. What is going to be your summer go-to beer?

Proper Glassware for Beer

If you’re the type who grabs a pint glass no matter what style of beer you’re pouring into it, allow us to enlighten you. In Belgium, especially, there is often a different style of glass for each beer, and it’s not just about getting beer fans to purchase more merch. You’ve probably heard the phrase “head is good,” and there’s a deeper meaning to that snicker-worthy saying. As soon as beer hits the glass, its color, aroma and taste changes. The head acts as a sort of net for the volatiles in the beer that lead to aromas such as hop oils yeast fermentation by-products like esters, spices or other notes you may notice. Different styles have different head retention, so accordingly, different glasses will lead to the most optimal experience of your beer.

Here are ten proper vessels for your favorite beers:

#1 If you are drinking a Belgian IPA, Dubbel, Triple, or Belgian Strong Dark Ale you will want a Goblet.

This wide-mouthed glass is intended to help a beer maintain head, and lets the drinker take deep sips. Goblets are more gentle, with an extended stem, while chalices are heavier and have thicker walls. Some are scored inside to maintain a certain level of head at the top.

#2 If you are drinking an American Lager, Bock, Pilsner, or Blonde Ale you will want a Pilsner glass.

This tall glass showcases carbonation and color, but helps the beer hold its head and enhances its volatiles. It’s the accurate choice for paler Lagers with a lot of carbonation, and unlike a Weizen, a correct Pilsner glass has no curvature.

#3 If you are drinking a Belgian Dark Ale, Double/Imperial Stout, Double/Imperial IPA, India Pale Ale, or Saison you will want a snifter.

More generally associated with brandy, a Snifter glass is a respectable choice for capturing and enhancing aromas and volatiles, making it a solid choice for stronger varieties. Snifter glasses keep all the aroma in, and for big sweet beers it certainly works. You can also swirl these glasses around to release aromas.

#4 If you are drinking a Saison, Scotch Ale, Belgian Pale Ale, Belgian Strong Ale, or Double/Imperial Stout you will want a tulip glass.

With this curved shape, you get to have a great foamy head while volatiles are captured and heightened. Tulip glasses make aromas so much brighter. If the head is key for a beer, this is a respectable glass to go with. Tulips are preferred for strong brews or high-gravity beers like triples and quads.

#5 If you are drinking a Weizenbock, Wheat Ale, Kristalweizen, or Dunkelweizen you will want a Weizen Glass.

This glass shape, extended and flared at the top, is intended for head and volume. It also helps maintain the beer’s aroma. This variety demonstrates the color and head of wheat beers well, while trapping the sediment often found in them at the narrow bottom of the glass.

#6 If you are drinking an American Pale Ale, Oatmeal Stout, Scottish Ale, Irish Dry Stout, or English Bitter you will want a mug.

This acquainted handled glass makes for laidback drinking and allows for plenty of volume, and helps to keep your beer stay chilled longer because your hand isn’t directly on the glass. A tankard mug has a thick bottom and straight sides, and the stouter krug mug is curved with a dimpled surface.

#7 If you are drinking Biere Brut, Biere de Champagne, Vienna Lager, Lambic, or Flanders Red Ale you will want a flute.

Just as with champagne, a flute glass improves and showcases carbonation in a beer. It also allows for the faster release of volatiles, resulting in a more intense aroma.

#8 If you are drinking a Rye Beer, Lambic, Gueuze, Bock, or Gose you will want a stange.

This tall, slender, up-and-down glass is a traditional German style that allows for a tighter concentration of volatiles. This is a respectable style for more delicate varieties. Do not have one of these nearby? Sub in a Tom Collins glass.

#9 If you are drinking a Double/Imperial IPA, Double/Imperial Stout, India Pale Ale, Brown Ale, or Porter you will want a pint glass.

This glass is known as the standard pub shaker. It makes for easy storage and drinking. A shaker, or American pint glass, is tapered with traditional sides, and a nonic or British Pint has a curved notch about two inches from the rim that makes for easier gripping. An imperial or Irish pint is tapered and curved from the middle up, and usually used for porters and Irish stouts.

#10 If you are drinking a Belgian Dark Ale, Belgian IPA, Saison, Belgian Pale Ale, or American Black Ale you will want an oversized wine glass.

Yes, a wine glass – a big one. A 22-ounce wine glass is great for serving Belgian Ales, the Beer Advocate writes. It can also make do where you might use a tulip or goblet, if you don’t have one on hand.


Food and Beer Pairings

First, there is no wrong beer for what you are eating if that is what you enjoy! The information we are providing you with is a wonderful go-to for what will enhance your dining experience. For centuries, if you asked a restaurant server in any mid-range to ritzy American eatery what drink to pair with a certain dish, they’d bring over the Sommelier and a wine bottle negotiation would ensue. But in the last five years, there’s been a paradigm shift: beer has made it onto the drink menu as more than just an addition. Beverage directors, chefs, and even wine lovers have learned that beer has an astonishing capacity to pair with all kinds of foods. Thus, Beer Sommeliers have burst up in cities across the country, especially Los Angeles, Chicago, New York, and Portland Oregon. Beer-and-food tasting events have multiplied exponentially – the monthly lists at are massive. Today, asking for a beer no longer means you’re simply afraid of wine. There is positively more room for flavor variety. Winemakers, after all, have one ingredient to play with: grapes. Two, if you count wood-barrel–aging. Beermakers, on the other hand, can experiment. Beer is as versatile as it is diverse, providing both complementary and contrasting experiences when paired with food. The following menu will help you to explore these and increase your enjoyment of beer & food pairing.

Perfect food matches and related recipes are below:


Pair with burgers; buffalo wings; Asian food; Mexican food; spicy food; nutty food; fried food; pizza; steaks; Cheddar, Parmesan, or Romano cheeses.

Bock Beer:

Pair with Gruyère, Emmental, and Swiss cheeses; Cajun food; jerk chicken; beef; sausage; seared foods.

Fruit Beer/Lambic:

Pair with mascarpone cheese; light white meat; foods driven by herbs and spices; duck and pork dishes with sweet components (avoid very tart lambics); pickled dishes (great with tart lambics); salads with fruity dressings; fruity desserts.


Pair with shellfish; light seafood; sushi; grilled pork and chicken; not-too-heavy pasta dishes (without cream or meat sauces); Southeast Asian food; Latin food; Mexican food; spicy food.


Pair with American cheese; Muenster, Havarti, and Monterey Jack cheeses; salads; light seafood; salmon; tuna; trout; asparagus; Asian food; Mexican food; spicy food.


Pair with smoked foods; barbecue; sausage; rich stews; meats; bacon; chili; braised dishes.


Pair with roasted foods; smoked foods; barbecued/grilled foods; salty foods; oysters; rich stews; braised dishes; chocolate; desserts (ideally the beer is sweeter than the dish).

Wheat Beer/Hefeweizen:

Pair with light soups and salads; vegetarian dishes; sushi; Gruyère cheese and Feta/goat’s cheese; sweet and fruity Asian dishes; citrus-flavored dishes, including dessert and salad dressings.
Remember, respectable craft-brewed beer can be much more stimulating than wine — it’s cool, refreshing and, depending on the style, can be much richer, more complex and more flavorful than wine. Plus, if you have an average person’s budget and capacity, you’ll find that tasting several different beers during a meal is preferable to tasting several different wines.