Oktoberfest is the world’s largest beer festival and travelling funfair. Held annually in Munich, it is a two week folk festival running from mid-to-late September to the first weekend in October, with more than six million people from around the world attending the event every year.
The History of Oktoberfest Starts in 1810. Crown Prince Ludwig, later to become King Ludwig I, was married to Princess Therese of Saxony-Hildburghausen on 12th October 1810. The citizens of Munich were invited to attend the festivities held on the fields in front of the city gates to celebrate the happy royal event. The fields have been named Theresienwiese (“Theresa’s fields”) in honor of the Crown Princess ever since, although the locals have since abbreviated the name simply to the “Wies’n”.
Horse races in the presence of the Royal Family marked the close of the event that was celebrated as a festival for the whole of Bavaria. The decision to repeat the horse races in the subsequent year gave rise to the tradition of the Oktoberfest.
In 1811, an added feature to the horse races was the first Agricultural Show, designed to boost Bavarian agriculture. The horse races, which were the oldest and – at one time – the most popular event of the festival are no longer held today. But the Agricultural Show is still held every three years during the Oktoberfest on the southern part of the festival grounds.
In the first few decades, the choice of amusements was sparse. The first carousel and two swings were set up in 1818. Visitors were able to quench their thirst at small beer stands which grew rapidly in number. In 1896 the beer stands were replaced by the first beer tents and halls set up by enterprising landlords with the backing of the breweries.
The remainder of the festival site was taken up by a fun-fair. The range of carousels etc. on offer was already increasing rapidly in the 1870s as the fairground trade continued to grow and develop in Germany.
At Get Cooking we are celebrating Oktoberfest with a special collaborative class with Brewsters’ Oliver Square’s Head Brewer Günther Trageser. Together, we will take you through a menu of Pretzels with Bratwurst and Beer Fondue, followed by Pork Schnitzel with Carrot Purée and a Green Salad then finally Roasted Pork Shoulder Franken Art with Red Cabbage and Spaetzle. Each dish will be paired with an 8oz pour of beer, chosen to pair with the dish by Günther.
Brewsters’ Oliver Square’s Head Brewer Günther Trageser
Günther Trageser is Brewster’s Head Brewer in Edmonton. Originally from Germany, Günther moved to Ireland in 1978. As a student in Ireland, he would hang out in pubs with his friends drinking many pints of Guiness. Being on a student’s budget he was sure he could save himself some money, so Gunther began to brew beer himself. He made his way to Canada in 1987 in the hopes of discovering better beer.
Günther worked in sales when he first arrived in Canada, but home brewing was his true passion. After developing his own recipes for 25 years at home, he started brewing for Alley Kat. It wasn’t until September of 2005 that Günther came to Brewsters’ Oliver Square brewery, where he birthed the recipe for Günther’s Hefeweizen. Coming up with new recipes was a welcome challenge for Günther and his German heritage was an inspiration for his Hefeweizen. He wanted to try a style that Canada hadn’t yet discovered and to brew Alberta’s very own Hefeweizen. He insists it is only his own interpretation of the style that he has not yet mastered.
Günther says the enjoyment of making craft beer for him “comes from having a vision of the colour, the taste and aroma, and having the ability to put the pieces together in order to see the brew through to its first pour”. When asked about his favourite style of beer, he says “it’s impossible to choose”.
When he’s not hard at work with Brewsters, Günther, a hilariously witty and funny man, plays the trombone for an ensemble, is a member of the Edmonton Gentleman’s Dinner Club, and has also taken to baking his own rye bread after his grandmother’s recipe and crafting and smoking his own sausage.
Brewsters’ founder Michael Lanigan started Brewsters in 1989, before small-batch brewing was the trend it is today. Now, as a second-generation family business, their batches aren’t as small as they once were. But the idea that got them started is the idea that still drives them today. They combine beer that’s brewed with passion with an outstanding dining experience. That formula has led them to where we are today – one of Alberta’s longest-standing local breweries, with 11 restaurants across the province.
Once the cooking and eating are done during our Oktoberfest cooking class, we will head to Brewsters Oliver Square for a brewery tour and a pint of beer!
How are you celebrating Oktoberfest? Leave a comment and let us know!