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History of Oktoberfest, from Munich to Louisville


Oktoberfest. The Christmas of beer. It’s in the air–the yodeling, the smell of Märzen beer flowing from the taps, the chorus of “where’d you get that lederhosen?”

Oktoberfest has always been mystifying to me. Why does Oktoberfest beer come out in August? Why is it spelled with a K! Why do we celebrate it in September? What is a lederhosen! 

So crack open an OFest and behold: Your Oktoberfest guide, from Munich in the 1800s all the way to our very own Louisville Kentucky.

How did Oktoberfest Start? 

1810, Munich Germany. Someone important, Bavarian King Ludwig I, got married to a princess whose name is impossible to spell. “Saxony-Hildburghausen”. It was such a big deal that the fine folk of Munich put on their best lederhosen, kicked the party off with a HORSE RACE, and drank lots of beer. Have you ever thrown a party so grand that it became an annual tradition? That’s what happened in Munich (it addition to wanting to boast agricultural achievements). 

What was happening in Louisville, KY during this time?

Nothing exciting. Lou was the largest city in Kentucky, and very industrial. The city had just passed a law banning pigs from roaming the city streets. 

Louisville needed some good ole’ stein-raising fun to boost morale. 

Oktoberfest Later Became a Festival…

In 1810, the first Oktoberfest was held in a barren field. Not too hype. However, in 1818, the first swings and ferris wheels were brought to the park! Almost as cool as us bringing Cornhole boards to our Oktoberfest celebration…

Oktoberfest USA!

During the fall of 1960, the folks of La Crosse, WI, were feeling unenthused. They wanted a colorful, lively, fall festival to boost morale before the oppressive Wisconsin winter. Two German-American dudes suggested something similar to Oktoberfest, and thus Oktoberfest USA was born! La Crosse’s Oktoberfest USA is the longest-stranding and largest Oktoberfest celebration in America. That is, until…

Steins on Main

A Downtown Louisville Oktoberfest

Alright, so it’s our inaugural Oktoberfest celebration, meaning we haven’t done it yet, but I expect nothing less than grand. The press release on Steins on Main is as follows;

Against the Grain is partnering with Louisville Ale Trail and Downtown Louisville Partnership to bring you this Louisville Oktoberfest celebration to benefit Coalition for the Homeless.

On the inspiration for Steins on Main, Ale Trail’s Michael Moeller said “We are continuously inspired by the vibrant beer culture in Louisville and our rich German heritage. When Against the Grain came to us with this opportunity to co-organize this new event, we knew it would be a great opportunity to follow our own mission: to engage and educate both tourists and residents about Louisville’s beer scene.”

Steins on Main will be free to the public and promises an afternoon filled with great cuisine, games, music, craft beer, and an abundance of festive cheer. Participating breweries include Against the Grain, Gallant Fox, Butchertown Brewing, Gravely, Monnik Beer Co., Hi-Wire, and the newly-opened Awry Brewing. These beers will provide a taste of both local craft mastery and the rich Oktoberfest tradition. Festivities kick off with a special happy hour from 2 pm to 3 pm, offering early attendees an exciting start to the day.

“While the entirety of the Oktoberfest event promises excitement and enjoyment, we’re excited to witness the community coming together in Downtown Louisville for a brand new event,” said Moeller. “And the added dimension of supporting a critical cause like the Coalition for the Homeless makes this celebration even more meaningful.”

You can learn more about Steins on Main here.

Not Just Here for Fun: Breweries Give Back!

We’ll have fun pouring beer for you on the 30th, but participating breweries are giving back to their community as well. Proceeds from vendor fees will be benefiting Coalition for the Homeless.

“Breweries, inherently, are community gathering places. They have a unique ability to bring people together, fostering connections and conversations. When breweries decide to harness this power of community for a good cause, like supporting the Coalition for the Homeless, it amplifies the positive impact. Breweries can create awareness, mobilize resources, and generate funds for crucial causes by integrating them into events or campaigns. By tying the enjoyment of craft beer to charitable causes, we can create an environment where patrons not only appreciate the beer but also the broader community ethos of the breweries.”

Thank you Michael Moeller!

BONUS: What is a lederhosen? “Lederhosen were and are traditionally made from leather material, making them easier to clean and to remove dirt dust and dirt after a hard day’s work. Lederhosen, therefore, were generally working-class apparel that carried specific cultural and social meanings in German-speaking cultures and countries.” https://www.oktoberfesthaus.com/blogs/okt/39278593-lederhosen-or-lederhose-the-origins-and-history#:~:text=Lederhosen%20were%20and%20are%20traditionally,German%2Dspeaking%20cultures%20and%20countries.