It’s a well-known fact that mountain folks will use just about any excuse to have a party. Just finished a full day of skiing? Let’s après. Need a bit more snow? Let’s throw a party for the snow gods. St. Patrick’s Day? No need to be Irish, let’s rock some green beer. So, it should come as no surprise that many mountain towns have appropriated Oktoberfest, the beer festival/carnival that takes place in Munich each year.
When you take a closer look, though, it makes sense. Many Germans and Austrians have moved to ski towns in the United States; some resorts were even designed to look like Bavarian villages. As a result, you’ll find Oktoberfest celebrations in mountain towns across the country, some starting as early as Labor Day weekend and some taking place into late October (Munich’s Oktoberfest occurs for 16 days up to, and including, the first Sunday in October).
Though each resort may have different activities, there are some elements that remain the same: beer, music, authentic German garb and more beer. In order to fully exploit your Oktoberfest experience, here are sieben (7) ways to win at Oktoberfest.
1. Stein Hoisting
While the waitresses at Oktoberfest in Munich are famous for the number of steins that they can carry at one time (the record is 27 one-liter mugs), there’s another feat of strength that you can attempt: stein hoisting.
Known as Masskrugstemmen, the challenge is to lift a liter of beer straight in front of you, parallel to the floor, for as long as you can without spilling any beer. The key to winning is training—and brute strength. Start with pint glasses and work your way up to the full liter.
2. Traditional Toasting
Oktoberfest is a party—and everyone is your new best friend. Get used to toasting your new buds frequently. While “cheers” will work for newbies, go full force and use the traditional “prost!” for an authentic experience. Bonus points for using “zum wohl” (zoom-vohl), which means “to your health.”
3. Dressing the Part
To really get into the spirit of Oktoberfest, dress the part. Traditional Bavarian outfits are lederhosen (leather shorts) for guys and dirndls (the form-fitting dress with the white shirt and apron) for girls. As Oktoberfest is an inclusive event, feel free to make the outfit your own, like women wearing lederhosen.
However, ladies, if you go traditional, be sure to pay attention to the bow on your apron. It’s always tied in the front and the placement of the bow indicates your status: bow on the left means you’re available; bow on the right means you’re married and bow in the middle means you’re a virgin.
4. Keg Tossing
Not found anywhere in Munich, this is a sport that Americans have adopted as part of their Oktoberfest celebrations. Usually a “half-keg” size, the empty (this is an important fact) keg is grasped by the handles and tossed as far as the competitor can manage.
To achieve the maximum distance, it’s recommended that you channel your inner track star and adopt a discus-like throwing technique: swing it like a pendulum and release it at the apex of the swing. Remember—it’s distance, not height, which matters.
5. Beer Quaffing
If you were in Munich, you would have your choice of beer from one of six Munich breweries—no other beers are allowed. Many Oktoberfest celebrations in the U.S. feature beer from one of these breweries: Paulaner, Spaten, Hacker-Pschorr, Augustiner, Hofbräu and Löwenbräu, so opt for the authentic when you have the opportunity. Other acceptable options are any sort of Oktoberfest brew that your local breweries might have concocted.
6. Alphorn Blowing
This huge wooden horn was originally used to call the cows in the mountains of Switzerland. Today, it’s used to show off the lips and lungs of Oktoberfest celebrants.
To blow the Alphorn correctly, it helps if you’ve ever played the trumpet—the technique is very similar. Even if you’re not a former brass player, simply put your lips together tightly and blow through the horn: the tighter your lips, the higher the sound.
7. Oktoberfest Etiquette
Perhaps the most important thing to remember at Oktoberfest is that it’s a community party, so be prepared to make friends. Bench seats often accompany the tables in the biergarten, so unless you’re there with 10 or 15 friends, you’ll end up sitting with strangers. This is a good thing. Simply raise your stein and say, “prost!” to get the conversation started; you can take it from there.
8. Where to Celebrate Oktoberfest
Check out these Oktoberfest celebrations at ski towns across the country:
• Oktoberfest – Hunter Mountain, New York
September 26-27; October 3-4; October 10-11; October 17-18, 2015
What makes it cool: it’s four weekends long
• 7th Annual Skitoberfest – Boyne Mountain Resort, Michigan
October 3, 2015
What makes it cool: an on-snow rail jam
• 18th Annual Oktoberfest – Attitash Mountain, New Hampshire
October 10, 2015 – October 11, 2015
What makes it cool: Win the Samuel Adams Stein Hoist Competition and you might win a trip to Oktoberfest in Munich.
• Leavenworth Oktoberfest – Leavenworth, Washington
October 2-3, 9-10, 16-17
What makes it cool: it was reinvented in the 1960s as a Bavarian Village, so it actually looks like you’re there.
• The Great Northwest Oktoberfest – Whitefish, Montana
September 24 – 26 and October 1 – 3.
What makes it cool: the log sawing competition
• OktOBERfest – Ober Gatlinburg, Tennessee
Sept. 25-Nov. 2
What makes it cool: you can celebrate Oktoberfest at the only ski resort in Tennessee—for more than a month.
• Red River Oktoberfest – Red River, New Mexico
October 9 – 11
What makes it cool: it takes place during the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta.
• Oktoberfest – Breckenridge, Colorado
Sept. 11 – 13
What makes it cool: it’s the largest Oktoberfest celebration in the Rocky Mountains.