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Beyond Oktoberfest: A guide to German beer and wine festivals

Beyond Oktoberfest: A guide to German beer and wine festivals
Photo: DPA
Everyone knows Oktoberfest, but Germany has plenty of other great beer and wine festivals. The website tells you where to get your drink on and lay your boozy head.

Thanks to the International juggernaut of a beer festival that is Oktoberfest, Germany is well known for its beers. However, Oktoberfest and Munich are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to drinking in Germany.

There are a whole host of festivals, beers, bars, vineyards and brewery tours where you can eat, drink and get merry with like-minded people from around the world waiting for you to try!

So, if knocking back beers and trying new things sounds like your thing, then read our guide and general tips below and get yourself booked on the next available flight to Germany this summer!

Beer and Wine Festivals

Germany is a nation dedicated to drinking and nowhere is this more apparent than in the country’s annual wine and beer festival circuit. Culminating in Munich’s Oktoberfest, there is some kind of beer or wine festival on virtually every weekend between now and October. Here’s our pick of the festivals:

1. Berlin Beer Festival 2010

Date: August 6-8

After Oktoberfest, the Berlin Beer Festival is one of the biggest German beer festivals around.

The festival boasts the longest beer garden in the world and has more than 2,000 different types of beer for you to taste from a total of 86 countries which should keep even the most hardened of drinkers amongst you happy!

However, if the lure of 2,000 different varieties isn’t enough, there’s also live music and regular shows throughout the weekend to keep you entertained.

Featuring beer, live music, sunshine and an expected million visitors from across the world, the Berlin Beer Festival really has it all!

Where to stay: If you’re looking for a quality hostel Berlin has several options available. The Generator Hostel Berlin and St Christopher’s Inn Berlin are both popular choices but fill up quickly. Baxpax Downtown Hostel Hotel is a good, cheap alternative.

2. Oktoberfest 2010

Date: September 18 – October 4

Oktoberfest is the daddy of all beer festivals with beer thirsty drinkers and curious travellers descending upon Munich from all over the globe year after year to ensure they take part in the world’s biggest celebration of beer.

This year’s festival is the 200th in its illustrious history and promises to be its biggest and best yet: 14 beer tents, thousand upon thousand of varieties of beer, live music and plenty of varieties of German sausage to help your body stem the steady flow of beer you’ll be throwing down your neck is enough to get anyone going.

With literally thousands of beers to choose from at Okotberfest, it’s hard to choose one beer to recommend, however the Löwenbräu and Paulaner always seem to go down well amongst the most popular with the beer guzzling locals and visitors.

Where to stay: Most Oktoberfest accommodation in Munich sold out long ago, however Munich hostels are still available including the Hotel Meininger which is offering a special discount on Oktoberfest accommodation this year.

3. Frankfurt Rheingau Wine Festival 2010

Date: September 1-10

This is a festival for those amongst you that prefer the more sophisticated taste of a good, full bodied wine to the wheaty taste of a lager.

Held this year in the week before Oktoberfest (1-10 September), the Frankfurt Frankfurt Rheingau Wine Festival is much more laid back than the beer festivals of Oktoberfest or Berlin but is no less enjoyable.

The emphasis is on the German produced wines of the Rheingau wine region and Reisling the tipple of choice but there will be over 600 wines in total to choose from, meaning there’s bound to be at least one that satisfies your taste buds!

Where to stay: Just 100 meters from the main train station in Frankfurt, Hotel Europa Frankfurt is our top rated Frankfurt hostel based on customer reviews and feedback.

Bars and Beer Halls

Sampling a bar or a traditional beer hall is one of those must do activities wherever you end up going in Germany.

As a nation of beer fanatics, it won’t come as any surprise that the nearest bar or beer hall is never far away, regardless of where you are but picking a good one is important. Here are three from across Germany we’d recommend that should help get you started:

1. Augustinerkeller


Augustinerkeller is a traditional German beer hall right in the centre of town. Here you can chat with locals and put the world to rights over a pint of Kellerbier- the beer produced in the beer hall’s on-site brewery.

During the long, hot summer days, most of the action takes place in the large beer garden where you can sit back and laze away the entire afternoon with an ice cold tankard beneath beautiful Linden trees.

Inside, the traditional beer hall with its large pine tables and timber frames is a warm and inviting place which gets particularly busy in the evenings when it gets a little too cool outside.

Where to stay: Augustinerkeller is situated right in the middle of town so make sure you get yourself booked into a hostel near the center of town. Wombats City Hostel is as good a bet as any.

2. Paulaner am Thielenplatz


Situated right in the heart of Hanover, Paulaner Am Thielenplatz is another typical German pub. Here you’ll find all the hallmarks of a Bavarian boozer like the long pine tables, heavy tankards and paneled walls, accompanied by murals of Bavarian peasants from yester-year and a strong food menu (the sausage platter is particularly good!).

There are five regular drafts on tap including Paulaner Pilsener and Paulaner Hefeweissbier. However, the pick of the Paulaner’s is the Salvator Doppelbock. This is a delightful beer full of flavour but at 7.5% ABV should be drunk with caution!

Where to stay: Those looking for a Hannover hostel will find there’s a wealth of cheap accommodation available. Motel One Hannover is as good an option as any being clean and comfortable and well located to public transport links making it easy to get in and out of town.

3. Zum Uerige


Zum Uerige is a brewpub with a growing reputation for stocking super strong beers which you can buy by the barrel load.

Inside, the vibe is cosy and atmospheric; the little booths and small side rooms are perfect for private catch ups while the more cavernous area towards the back of the pub is great for socializing with other drinkers.

There’s also an outdoor seating area across the street which in the height of summer, ends up being most of the street as beer thirsty shoppers drop in for a quick drink on their way home.

There are several good beers on tap to try but we’d recommend the altbier. This is a favourite amongst locals and has the added benefit of meaning you won’t have to leave your seat as the waiters regularly come around with trays of altbier- all you have to do is help yourself!

Where to stay: Offering rooms from just €17 per night, the Backpackers Hostel Düsseldorf represents great value for money and is a top location from which to explore the pubs and beyond.

Brewery Tours

For some of you at least, finding out a bit about how the beers you’re drinking might be of interest. Again, there are brewery tours all over Germany. Here are three of the best:

1. Erdinger Brewery


The Erdinger Brewery is the largest producer of wheat beers in the world, combining time honored traditional techniques with modern technology and equipment to produce more than one million bottles everyday.

The tour gives you the opportunity to see the brewing process in action all the way from hops and fermentation through to bottling.

After the tour you can enjoy one of the brewery’s beers in the beer garden, in the knowledge that it’s probably the freshest beer you’re ever going to drink!

Where to stay: From party hostels to family friendly low budget hotels there is no shortage of accommodation options in Munich. Check out the HostelBookers website for a full list of Munich hostels.

2. Monastery Brewery Andechs

Lake Ammersee in Bavaria

Located in the incredible setting of the Andechs Monastery on the mountain top above Lake Ammersee, this is a brewery tour, history lesson and scenic view all rolled in to one!

As you wonder around the beautiful monastery that has been a pilgrimage site and pioneer of beer production since the Middle Ages, you are given insights into the monastery’s rich history and the brewing process.

If all the talk about beer proves too much there’s always the on site brew pub, restaurant, butcher shop, farm, distillery and beautiful, beautiful views to keep you entertained.

Where to stay: Beyond the stunning vistas and the Andechs Monastery there isn’t much to see and do in around Lake Ammersee. Stay in Munich and hire yourself a car to get to the monastery.

3. Becks Brewery tour


While Munich and Bavaria grab all the headlines for being big beer producers, North Germany does its fair bit for the cause too.

Malt silos, fermentation tans and brewing rooms all feature as part of your brewery tour which also includes entry to the Beck’s beer museum where you can learn the history of Becks which the brewery has been producing on the riverbank site for almost 150 years.

Where to stay: For a fun and friendly, book yourself a room at the Townside Hostel Bremen.

Bathe in beer

If finding out how beer is produced and drinking it by the barrel load at Okotberfest or a traditional German beer hall isn’t enough, why don’t you try bathing in it?

No jokes, apparently soaking in a tub of beer has health benefits and beer spas have begun appearing in parts of Austria, Germany and the Czech Republic in the past few years.

People have been bathing in beer at Kummeroer Hof for more 13 years now and reported benefits include easing eczema and helping fungal conditions.

It sounds disgusting but the smell of the beer and the warm sticky sensation is actually strangely satisfying. Beer bathing is something that really has to be experienced to be fully appreciated and certainly takes the phrase ‘beers on tap’ to another level!

Where to stay: Kummeroer Hof is in the small town of Neuzelle. There’s not much in town aside from the spa so you may prefer to stay in nearby Frankfurt. Alternatively, you can book yourself a Berlin Hostel and make a day trip out of visiting the spa.