Oktoberfest

Oktoberfest history: Why is it a fall tradition?

By Michael Kuhne, AccuWeather staff writer
September 28, 2017, 8:32:28 AM EDT
Autumn harvests have long been accompanied by annual celebrations of nature's bounty, showcasing some of the season's finest food and drink.
Every year in Munich, Oktoberfest is held in the early autumn to celebrate Bavarian history, culture and one of the world's oldest and most popular beverages — beer.
While the abundance of seasonal German foods might be a draw for many, Oktoberfest's fame comes from its beer, which is a long standing keystone of Bavarian culture.
Beer was such an important part of Bavarian society that it resulted in one of the first food regulations in human history under the Bavarian Reinheitsgebot, or beer purity law.
Oktoberfest

"The original Bavarian Reinheitsgebot allowed only barley, water and hops. That was 1516 or earlier," retired German and French language professor Dolores Buttry said.

Buttry served as an assistant professor of German and foreign languages at the University of Pittsburgh until 2013 and has taught courses on medieval history and Scandinavian literature at Harvard University and the University of Kentucky.
"There were lots of changes after that, and now they allow wheat, and of course soon after the original law, they allowed yeast," Buttry said.
Beer's origins stretch back thousands of years, but the recipe remains essentially the same, millennia later.
Mother Nature is responsible for providing the main ingredients of barley, hops, water and yeast, but it is the job of brewers around the world to craft the countless unique ales, lagers, stouts and porters of their day.
According to Buttry, German beer is still brewed according to the Reinheitsgebot, which prohibits the use of other ingredients commonly found in American beer styles and seasonal brews. Only the basics such as malt, hops and water can be used in German beer.
With an estimated 7.7 million liters of beer served in 2015 and an annual visitor count approaching 7 million, Oktoberfest is the largest, and most celebrated folk festival for brewing in the world.
On Oct. 12, 1810, the very first Oktoberfest was held to celebrate the marriage of Crown Prince Ludwig and Princess Therese of Saxony-Hildburghausen, according to the official Munich city website.
A year later, horse racing and an agriculture show were added to help promote Bavaria's agricultural trade. While the horse racing has long since disappeared from the event, the Agriculture Show is still held every three years during Oktoberfest on the festival grounds.
This year, Munich's Oktoberfest kicked off on Sept. 16 and will continue until Oct. 3. For many people, however, traveling all the way to Munich for a cold pint of world famous beer isn't feasible.
In order to quench America's thirst for annual Oktoberfest celebrations, numerous fall festivals celebrating brewing are held across the nation, some of which showcase their own domestic styles and ingredients.
Beer

Despite the prominence of European brewing during the 18th century, America was never without skilled brewers of its own. Even George Washington had his own recipe for porter, which is reported to have been one of his favorite beverages.

In order to promote brewing in the United States, the state of Massachusetts went as far as to pass an Act in 1789 to encourage the domestic consumption and manufacture of strong beer and other malt liquors.
Since then, Americans' love for fine ales, porters and lagers has not slowed. The Brewers Association reported more than 4,000 active breweries in the U.S. as of 2015.

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