If there’s one thing Germany is known for – arguably above all – it’s beer. The nectar of the gods is an integral part of the nation’s culture, and its population is ranked third in the world in terms of beer consumption – with only Austria and the Czech Republic ahead. From Munich to Hamburg, lively folk festivals see locals and visitors alike dressed in traditional lederhosen, listening to oom-pah bands and enjoying a Germanic brewski. With so many fiestas devoted to the humble hop, these exciting events are without a doubt some of the best beer festivals Europe has to offer. Even if you don’t know your Weißbier from your Schwarzbier, take a look at some of our favourite beer festivals in Germany to inspire your own barley infused adventure.
Berlin International Beer Festival: 5 August – 7 August
A quick glance at the stats is enough to make you feel a bit lightheaded: an incredible 320 brewers from 86 countries are expected to bring about 2,000 beer varieties to the Berlin Beer Festival. This huge hop party is spread across 2.2 kilometres of the pedestrianised street Karl-Marx-Allee, where yodellers and world lager are the order of the day. Admission to what has been called ‘The Longest Beer Garden in the World’ is free, and you can buy a festival kit which includes a 200 ml beer glass with a strap holder, allowing you to taste a huge variety of different beers before settling on one you like.
Oktoberfest: 17 September – 3 October
Over 7 million visitors from around the world come to Munich to experience what is considered to be the biggest beer festival on the planet. With over 6.9 million litres of beer consumed throughout the 16-day celebration, Oktoberfest is undoubtedly a nirvana for brewers and drinkers alike. Make sure you don your Trachtenhut (Oktoberfest hat) and your traditional Tracht (Oktoberfest fancy dress) before enjoying a litre glass of liquid gold – known as a Maß in German, though we’d call it a stein in English. The event prides itself on serving beer with the highest purity, so you’ll only find water, hops and barley in your Bavarian brew.
Stuttgart Cannstatter Volksfest: 23 September – 9 October
Established in 1818 by King William I of Württemberg and his wife Catherine, the Stuttgart beer festival is the second-largest event of its kind in Germany, trailing only its bigger brother in Munich. Boasting a 37-hectare fairground full of roller coasters, beer tents, wine tents, beer gardens and foodie spots, it’s little surprise that 4 million visitors come each year throughout the 17-day duration. Known affectionately as ‘Wasen’ by locals, it’s a great alternative to Oktoberfest. Make sure to check out the 26-metre high fruit column before you leave – it’s considered the symbol of the festival.
Hamburg Winter Beer Festival: 4 November – 4 December
Three times a year, Hamburg‘s vast Heiligengeistfeld square is transformed into an enormous fairground. While each and every event receives droves of visitors, it’s the winter edition of the Hamburg Beer Festival that sees the carnival grounds full of early festive cheer. Nibble on Schmalzkuchen (small fried doughnuts), sip your beer stein or enjoy a cheeky glass of hot Glühwein for that special taste of Christmas.
Has this inspired a hoppy escape of your own? Check out our guide to the Belgian Beer Weekend in Brussels.