Within the city limits of Munich are six breweries: Augustiner, Hofbräu, Löwenbräu, Spaten, Paulaner, and Hacker-Pschorr. And within the Oktoberfest fairgrounds are 14 tents (listed below), each licensed to sell beer for only one of the aforesaid breweries. The word “tent” (Zelt in German), however, is wildly misleading since these massive structures are actually well-constructed beer-drinking halls that hold upwards of 7,000 people (10,000 in total if you include the beer garden). With so many tents to choose from, finding the right one can be an adventure, thus we’ve listed all 14 in order of preference. But note, just because a tent is low on our list doesn’t mean it’s not worthy of your time. On the contrary, each tent has its own special flair, atmosphere and theme. Read through the following entries to see which tent is most appealing. If possible, mosey into a few to get an even better feel of what’s right for you. (Note: For more pertinent info regarding the beer tents be sure to read our facts & tips page.)
1) Fischer Vroni,
www.fischer-vroni.de, (serving Augustiner beer to 2,730 persons inside and 700 outside in the garden). Fischer Vroni, a small tent with big cheer serving Augustiner beer, is usually where you’ll find us. (For more on Augustiner beer, see entry No. 4 below.) Besides beer tapped fresh from wooden kegs, Fischer Vroni is wildly popular for its smoked fish, in particular Steckerlfisch, meaning skewered fish, or “fish-on-a-stick,” like mackerel (Makrele) and mountain trout (Saibling), seen slowly cooking over an open fire-pit outside the tent’s south entrance (pictured). Pictured above is Hans serving another round of Oktoberfest cheer at Fischer Vroni. Prost! To get there, Fischer Vroni is positioned at the north end of the fairgrounds, next to the Theresienwiese subway station (U4, U5).
2) Löwenbräu Festzelt,
www.loewenbraeuzelt.de, (serving Löwenbräu beer to 5,800 parched patrons inside and 2,700 outside in the garden). It’s hard to miss the iconic, sudsy Löwenbräu tent nestling at the south end of beer-tent boulevard in the shadow of a 37-meter-high (121 ft) tower crowned by Löwenbräu’s trademark lion, easily seen from across the fairgrounds. Equally alluring to thirsty travelers, the giant beer-drinking lion that belches, err… roars, every few minutes above the tent’s main entrance. Italians especially heed the call of the wild, trying famously—albeit in vain—to keep pace with their Bavarian table mates. Bedecked in the fashionable blue-and-white colors of the Bavarian flag, the Löwenbräu tent is rocked by the house band “Bert Hansmaiers Heldensteiner” who play beneath a roof fitted with more than 16,000 LED lights that vividly highlight the streams of trimmings and beaming faces.
3) Hacker Festzelt,
www.hacker-festzelt.de, (serving Hacker-Pschorr beer to 6,800 cheery customers inside and 2,500 outside in the garden, including those on the balcony). Of all the beer tents, the Hacker Festzelt is arguably the most striking with its muraled walls depicting Munich in centuries past under a dreamy blue sky with puffy white clouds and the tent’s famed banner touting its signature slogan: Himmel der Bayern (suggesting Hacker-Pschorr beer and this tent is ‘the heaven of Bavaria’). German television networks and professional photographers regularly choose the interior of this tent as their Oktoberfest backdrop, typically filming from the upstairs VIP balcony down onto the sea of costumed locals and tipsy tourists. Smack dab in the middle of it all, the brass band “Kirchdorfer” trumpets traditional tunes on a revolving stage from noon till night except from 19:00-20:45 when the “Cagey Strings” steal the floor with their rock ’n’ roll music. To get there, the Hacker Festzelt is positioned in the middle of beer-tent boulevard, west side, directly opposite the Augustiner Festhalle and sandwiched between the Hofbräu and Schottenhamel tents.
4) Augustiner Festhalle,
www.festhalle-augustiner.com, (serving Augustiner beer to 6,000 enthusiasts inside and 2,500 outside in the garden). To many Münchner (i.e. locals) beer is an art form, to others it is part of daily life, and to some it is a religion, literally. Founded by Augustinian monks in 1328, Augustiner Bräu is Munich’s oldest brewery and it produces (arguably) the city’s finest Helles, which is still tapped fresh from oak-wood kegs. That’s right, while all the other breweries use big-rig tankers to pump in their brew, the expertise of the coopers, or barrel makers, is still an esteemed craft at Augustiner (this includes the Augustiner affiliated Fischer Vroni tent above at No. 1). Hover around the service area for a short while and watch the kegmeister and his brawny helpers at work, then do that at another tent (where you’ll find a bartender pouring beer from what appears to be a wooden keg but really a facade connected to a large multi-liter vat). To get there, the Augustiner Festhalle is positioned in the middle of beer-tent boulevard, east side, directly opposite the Hacker Festzelt and sandwiched between the Ochsenbraterei and Pschorr Bräurosl tents.
5) Hofbräu Festzelt,
The Hofbräu Festzelt (www.hb-festzelt.de) is by far, we believe, the wildest of the bunch. And with its 7,020-person capacity inside and 3,020 outside in the beer garden, Hofbräu is the largest of the Oktoberfest tents, serving some 550,000 liters of Hofbräu beer during the 16-day festival (that’s on average 34,375 liters per day sold). Stoked by rivers of beer and the keen vacationers who consume it, Hofbräu owes much of its bubbly atmosphere to its youthful gaggles of Brits, Yanks, Dutch, Italians, Kiwis and heaps of Aussies, many of whom enthusiastically sport tall Bavarian beer-keg hats and blinking beer pins as if they were keepsakes for the ages (or until they’re turned into Lost & Found by night’s end). Akin to its hugely famous sibling the Hofbräuhaus, the Hofbräu tent is a barrel of laughs, thus we’ve listed it at No. 5. Another significant reason, Hofbräu is the easiest tent to get a beer. While at the other tents you must be seated to order, which can be difficult if all the tables are full, at Hofbräu the central area is standing-room only and therefore a breeze to get booze (providing the tent isn’t full and you can get in). Within Hofbräu’s roomy tent most anything goes: tomfoolery, debauchery, bad singing. I hope when I’m in my golden years I’m still able to hang with this “Country Roads” crowd. To get there, the Hofbräu tent is positioned in the middle of beer-tent boulevard, west side, opposite the Ochsenbraterei tent and sandwiched between the Hacker Festzelt and Armbrustschützenzelt.
Brett Harriman hand-drew the following map to give you a better idea of the tent locations and the short distance from the main train station (locally Hauptbahnhof) to the fairgrounds.
6) Schützen Festzelt,
www.schuetzen-festzelt.de, (seating more than 5,000 of us and serving Löwenbräu beer). The Schützen Festzelt, official home of the sport shooting clubs (Schütze = marksman) on the fairgrounds, parked at the foot of Lady Bavaria is heavy on youthful dirndl-donning gals and lederhosen-clad guys flirting between oompah-pah hits. If you can’t get into the main hall because it’s full, don’t fret: the enclosed beer garden is equally as spirited.
www.ochsenbraterei.de, (serving Spaten beer to 6,000 of us inside and 1,600 outside in the garden). The Ochsenbraterei is best known as the ox-roasting tent. Many visitors only come to Oktoberfest to quaff beer but in this tent a sit-down meal is also a delicious experience. Started by a butcher, the Ochsenbraterei has been a staple of choice meat on the fairgrounds since 1881. It’s not hard to imagine way back then the spectacle it was for passersby to see clouds of smoke billowing above an entire ox turning on a spit. Crowds gathered around, many bought a beer and savored the meat. Year after year the crowds got bigger, and more oxen were cooked. Today, the oxen are roasted on a modern revolving spit and—get this—the name and weight of each ox is listed adjacent in large writing. (When I was in the Ochsenbraterei, Robert was the ox on the spit and he weighed 11 Zentner. With one Zentner equal to 50 kilograms, Robert weighed 550 kgs or 1,212 lbs.) Last year, some 114 oxen were roasted (about seven per day), thus the menu offers several combinations of ox specialties, from loin to filet, goulash to sandwich (locally Semmel), boiled to roasted. (A plate of juicy ox roast doused in red wine sauce and a side of potato salad goes for roughly 16€, or you can buy an on-the-go “Ochsensemmel” sandwich at the Kasse [cashier] for 7€.) Although the menu is heavy on meat dishes, there is consideration for vegetarians with entrées like fresh mushrooms in cream sauce and the seasoned vegetable platter. To get there, the Ochsenbraterei is marked by a mechanical ox rotisserie mounted above its front entrance, located at the north end of the fairgrounds, next to Fischer Vroni (tent No. 1 on this list) and the Theresienwiese subway station (U4, U5).
8) Pschorr Bräurosl,
www.braeurosl.de, (seating 6,200 of us inside and 2,200 outside in the beer garden). Another traditional tent, having been at Oktoberfest serving Hacker-Pschorr beer since 1901 and run by the Heide family since 1936, the Pschorr Bräurosl treats its liquored patrons to two entertaining brass bands and a fairgrounds first, a yodeler (Carolin Weidner), who goes by the name Bräurosl in honor of the original brewery owner’s daughter, Rosi Pschorr, and yodels twice daily. Giving new meaning to men in lederhosen, Pschorr Bräurosl recently introduced another fairgrounds first by dedicating its tent to the LGBT community on the opening Sunday with the mega-event “Gay Sunday”. Many in the gay community swear it’s the best day of the year! Maybe it’s something for you? To get there, the Pschorr Bräurosl is positioned near the south end of beer-tent boulevard, east side, directly opposite the Schottenhamel tent and sandwiched between the Löwenbräu and Augustiner tents.
9) Schottenhamel Festzelt,
www.festzelt.schottenhamel.de, (serving Spaten beer). The Schottenhamel tent is the second largest on the block and the oldest, since 1867. Back then, not more than 50 farmers could squeeze into the “little wooden barn.” Today, Schottenhamel seats 6,000 of us inside and 4,000 outside in the beer garden; (only the Hofbräu tent is larger). Among the masses, Schottenhamel is increasingly popular with Munich’s under 21s. And if you don’t already know, it is in this tent that on the opening Saturday at the stroke of 12 noon the Bürgermeister, or mayor of Munich, wallops the very first keg of Oktoberfest beer with a wooden mallet and proclaims “O’zapft is!” (It’s tapped!) At that moment, twelve cannon volleys ring out across the fairgrounds signaling the start of Oktoberfest to the other tents and that beer can be served. Yeehaw! To get there, Schottenhamel is positioned near the south end of beer-tent boulevard, west side, directly opposite the Pschorr Bräurosl and sandwiched between the Hacker Festzelt and Paulaner tent. Note: Behind the Schottenhamel tent is the command center for police, medical personnel (first aid), and Lost & Found.
10) Armbrustschützen Festzelt,
www.armbrustschuetzenzelt.de, (serving Paulaner beer to 5,830 of us inside and 1,620 outside in the garden). A mouthful of taste and tradition can be had in the Armbrustschützenzelt, not only via its flavorsome food and beer but also in its name, meaning ‘Tent of the Crossbow Shooters.’ Since 1895 the Bavarian crossbow shooting guild has held court here in this hunting-themed tent adorned by wild boar heads and deer antlers. The tent’s farmhouse-style facade features the guild’s heraldic double-headed eagle and murals of crossbowmen. To get there, the Armbrustschützenzelt is located at the north end of the fairgrounds, west side, opposite Fischer Vroni (tent No. 1 on this list) and a beer toss from the Theresienwiese subway station (U4, U5).
11) Paulaner-Festzelt (formerly Winzerer Fähnd’l),
www.paulanerfestzelt.de, (serving Paulaner beer to 6,000 of us inside and 2,400 outside in the garden). Trumpeting their banner slogan “Gut, Besser, Paulaner” (Good, Better, Paulaner), this Festzelt is big brother to the above-listed Armbrustschützenzelt but without the crossbows and antlered décor. A yellow 100-foot-tall tower crested by a 20-foot revolving beer stein marks the front of Paulaner’s atmospheric tent that frequently attracts prominent personalities and German celebrities, including players of the storied soccer team Bayern-München as well as their faithful fans. To get there, Paulaner-Festzelt is located at the south end of beer-tent boulevard, directly opposite Löwenbräu’s trademark lion.
12) Käfer’s Wies’n Schänke,
www.feinkost-kaefer.de. The smallest and most exclusive tent on the block is Käfer’s Wies’n Schänke, serving Paulaner beer to 1,160 well-to-do types inside and 1,900 outside in the garden late into the night (last call 00:15, open till 01:00)! The cuisine here is delectable, savored by gourmets and anyone with taste. Michael Käfer has come a long way since his trial run at the 1971 Oktoberfest when his beer and snack stand had seating for a mere 40 desperadoes. Today Michael manages multiple upmarket Käfer restaurants, bistros and cafés across Germany, a catering division you may already be familiar with concerning his expedient and exceptional Roof Garden (Dachgarten) restaurant at the Reichstag (Bundestag, or German parliament) building in Berlin. Käfer’s success model is Quality from Passion (Qualität aus Leidenschaft), which has earned him millions in cash, a truckload of admiration, and friendships with all the top celebrities in Europe, many of whom come here to party and indulge at Käfer’s Wies’n Schänke. With less architectural limitations as the bigger tents, Käfer’s marquee is cozy and charming, resembling a traditional Alpine chalet with its quaint wooden facade accented by rich flower boxes and countrified décor inside. Many appreciate the Wies’n Schänke most after the big beer tents have closed in the evening and little Käfer’s is still pouring the amber nectar. To get there, Käfer’s Wies’n Schänke is located below Lady Bavaria, across from the Schützen Festzelt.
www.weinzelt.com, (seating 2,000 of us inside and out). News flash…The largest beer festival in the world has a wine tent. No kidding! It’s called the Weinzelt, small and sophisticated, traditionally decorated with wood-carved booths, good music and a petite dance floor. Handsome wait staff serve 25 expensive wines and champagne. A glass of wine, for example, will set you back 11€-13€, bottle 38€-70€, Champagne from 150€ per 750 ml bottle to the gigantic 15-liter Brut Premier for a wallet-busting 4,200€ (that’s 280€ per liter). Yikes! The only beer sold here is Paulaner Weissbier, or wheat beer, for 7.80€ per half-liter glass but that’s only until 21:00 when the sale of beer is finished for the evening. Double yikes!! To get there, the wine tent is fairly easy to spot with its huge signage “Nymphenburg Sekt” cresting the Weinzelt located at the south end of beer-tent boulevard, across from Löwenbräu and its lion-topped tower.
EDITOR’S NOTE: In 2014, the owner of the Hippodrom ran into some legal trouble and had to forgo his tent, replaced by the following “Marstall” tent. This is the first such change in the Oktoberfest tent line-up in some 20 years!
14) Marstall (formerly Hippodrom),
www.marstall-oktoberfest.de, (serving Spaten lager beer & Franziskaner Weissebier to 3,400 persons inside and 800 outside in the garden). The year 2014 marked the grand opening of the Marstall tent at Oktoberfest, the first such big-tent newcomer in 20 years, replacing the former Hippodrom. The Marstall is run by the Able family, Siegfried and Sabine — who have been in the catering business since 1982 and for the last six years have run the Kalbs Kuchl, one of the small tents on the Oktoberfest fairgrounds — and their two attractive daughters: Verena and Vanessa. Marstall takes its name from a 19th-century riding school built for the king and his court, thus horse motifs throughout the tent will pay homage to its namesake heritage in addition to the equestrian roots of Oktoberfest. The menu at Marstall consist of regional specialties as well as sophisticated cuisine and wine service. Yes, also wine! The band will kick off traditional Bavarian music daily from 12 noon, switching to lively party tunes at 18:30. Stop by Marstall for a beer, or two, and be a part of history. To get there, Marstall is located at the north end of beer-tent boulevard, across from Fischer Vroni and the Theresienwiese subway station (U4, U5).
Ein prosit, ein prosit der Gemütlichkeit, (repeat) …Oans, zwoa, G’suffa! (A toast, a toast to your health … One, two, chug-a-lug!)
(In some tents, i.e. Hofbräu, add:) Zicke, zacke, zicke, zacke, oi, oi, oi. (Again, louder.) Zicke, zacke, zicke, zacke, Oi, Oi, Oi. Ein prosit!
You had one too many beers at Oktoberfest and now, the next morning, you feel as lifeless as poop on a lawn, with an earth-pounding headache to boot. Regrettably, there is no absolute cure for a hangover except time, but with a little consideration you can reduce the intensity of one.
First of all, you need to know, Oktoberfest beer (6% abv) is much stronger than normal beer (around 4.7% abv, depending on brand). A reliable Bavarian source told me that a 1-liter fest beer is equal to 8 shots of schnapps! That’s some hefty partying if you were to drink two to three liters of beer, which is pretty much my high-water mark. Thus it’s best to know your limitations, i.e. what your body can tolerate. Moreover, drink in moderation, for example nurse your beer instead of guzzling it.
This may or may not help you but the following is a list of the things that work for me in reducing the ferocity of a hangover.
- Sustenance: To help absorb the impact of the alcohol in the blood system I always eat a solid meal before a night of drinking. Experts (webmd.com) say that fat-heavy foods absorb the best, like steak or pizza.
- Water: During an evening of significant alcohol consumption our bodies become dehydrated thus I try to periodically drink a glass of water (or carbonated mineral water) to keep my fluids replenished, which helps minimize, or soften, the effects of a hangover. Ideally, it is recommended to drink water between each alcoholic drink (not only to keep the body hydrated but also to dilute the overall amount of alcohol in the system).
- Fast food: When the night is over I sleuth out a fast-food stand (hamburger, kebap, pizza, whatever) because I’m typically hungry (again) but more important it seemingly helps to soak up the alcohol in the blood system. On a negative note, it’s pretty unhealthy to have all that grub amassed in the stomach before hitting the sack but somehow the thought of a throbbing headache in the morning loses out to a greasy spoon every time.
- Vitamin water: Back at my room, to further replenish lost fluids and minerals while drinking, I gulp down the bottle of vitamin water I made before leaving. (Stores in Germany sell tubes of multivitamin dissolvable tablets [20 count] for a mere 1€. I dissolve 1 tablet per .750 ml bottle of water, but strength depends on personal taste. While vitamins are a valuable dietary supplement for everyday living, experts say the B-complex and C vitamins contained in each tablet are particularly beneficial to help remedy a hangover. Combine these nutritional rewards with more liquid to replenish my body and I’m feeling better already.) While traveling, irrespective of Oktoberfest and big nights out, I refill my drink bottle once or twice per day with vitamin water for general nutritional gain and feel-good power. The tablets, called Multivitamin Brausetabletten, (Brause in this case meaning ‘fizzy’), come in a few different flavors, or Geschmack, but mango and orange (same spelling) is my favorite, and can be bought at most grocery stores and all cosmetic-toiletry stores (like Schlecker and Müller).
- More liquids: In the morning I continue guzzling my vitamin water (but worthy alternatives are fruit juice, sports-type drinks to replace lost electrolytes, and vegetable juice—which is appropriate since a hangover can be likened to being in a vegetative state). If I didn’t find a fast-food stand, as mentioned above in step 3, when I’m able I try to track down a Big Mac, fries and a large soda. (I rarely eat at McDonald’s but in hangoverville I crave a burger and the carbonated soda is a must.) Other than fast-food, I also turn to bread to get something solid in my stomach and to blunt the effects of a hangover. Note: Avoid any drink with caffeine, like coffee, since it will almost certainly lead to more dehydration and a prolonged hangover; (webmd.com).