Munich toast, by senator86 -GNU-license

Some six million visitors are flocking to Munich this week, and next, to celebrate the 200th annual Oktoberfest, the world’s largest beer bash.

Two hundred years ago in 1810, Bavaria’s Crown Prince Ludwig celebrated his royal wedding to Princess Therese with a public party in October that was such a hit it became an annual festival known as “The Oktoberfest,” attracting six million beer lovers from all corners of the globe.

Oktoberfest party-goers listening to the sounds of oom-pah music and wearing the traditional German garb of lederhosen and dirndls dresses are served giant mugs of beer by waitresses who hoist five heavy mugs in each hand to quench the thirsty masses. 

Huge tents accommodate seating for up to 100,000 guests at any one time, the largest of which covers almost two acres of land (more than 7,000 sq meters).

During the 2009 festival, 6.6 million liter mugs of beer were served. Normally, each brewery brews its own Oktoberfest beer – but for the 200th anniversary all the master brewers from the Munich breweries have grouped together and put all their experience, creativity and know-how into jointly brewing a historical beer for the occasion.

The anniversary beer is based on the recipe from the early 19th century. In terms of its color and alcohol content, it is almost identical to what was served 200 years ago on the Wiesn. The master brewers have just adapted the taste to modern times. The amber-colored special beer is full-bodied and has a malty-flowery aroma. Of course, it is still served from the traditional wooden barrels. Brewers have solemnly vowed to keep the anniversary recipe strictly secret and only to serve it in the historical Oktoberfest tent during the anniversary year.

When the Munich Professor Carl von Linde developed the first commercially usable refrigerator in 1871, beer could for the first time be stored for longer periods and transported. The first buyers of Linde’s cooling system were the Munich breweries, and even today, Linde AG is still a leader in refrigeration technology – and has its head office in Munich.

Oktoberfest 2010, by Natasha-Cloutier, CC-licenseThe “biggest party in the world” brings a huge boost to the economy of the Bavarian region. Thanks to its renown tradition of hospitality and quality, the economic value of the “Wiesn”, as it is called here, adds up to about 830 million Euro.

Although the festival lasts a full two weeks, it keeps many companies and organizations busy for months in advance. Breweries spend weeks putting up the great beer halls and tents, manufacturers churn out thousands of the traditional costumes of lederhosen and dirndl dresses, the mobile telecom providers upgrade their facilities and boost transmission stations.

“The Oktoberfest has enormous charisma and is the hallmark of Bavaria, known all over the world, said Bavaria’s Minister of Economic Affairs, Martin Zeil. “This year’s anniversary Wiesn gives us the chance to present ourselves in a special light, toasting 200 years of the Oktoberfest, and preserving something that has proved its worth.” (Photo- Oktoberfest 2010, by Natasha-Cloutier, CC-license)

WATCH some video from Munich, via AP…

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