As the towering, stumbling behemoth of German drinking destinations, Oktoberfest overshadows the many rich traditions of beverage consumption throughout the rest of the country.
While Oktoberfest resembles an overpriced frat party to my discerning eyes, these destinations promise beautiful settings, affordable prices and plenty of friendly locals ready to raise a glass and say Prost!
1. Palatinate Wine Festivals
While Germany’s premier wine region is best known for its world-class white wines, it’s quantity over quality at the region’s many wine festivals, and that’s no negative. Germans pack the streets in rural wine country to gulp down Weinschorle, a mixture of wine and sparkling water served in .5L glasses. Live music and lots of pretzels complete the scene.
2. Bamberg Rauchbier
Bamberg is one of Germany’s best-preserved medieval cities, and home to the highest density of breweries in the world. Their most famous brew is Rauchbier; a smoked beer that tastes like delicious beer bacon. Add that to the bizarrely low prices for everything in this bustling university town and you’ve got a winner.
3. Hessen Apfelwein
Hessen, a central state that includes Frankfurt is well known to Germans for its Apfelwein (apple wine). Similar to the American or British hard ciders you may be used to, Apfelwein is typically more tart and sour. It’s best experienced in Hessen Apfelwein taverns where they usually pair this wine with a massive plate of meat.
4. Stuttgarter Wasen
Cannstatter Wasen, also known as the Cannstatter Volksfest, takes place in Stuttgart at the end of September or beginning of October. It’s not that different from Munich’s Oktoberfest –you’ll find tents filled with top-notch German beer, loud drunk people and all the grilled bratwurst you could ever desire. But you can throw back that Ma� (liter glass) of Hefeweizen without the feeling that you’re in a tourist trap.
5. Oberkirch Schnapps
Oberkirch, a small town perched on the outskirts of the Black Forest, boasts 891 schnapps distilleries in the nearby vicinity. Try some pear schnapps, blackberry, raspberry, apple … the list goes on. Bonus: the entirety of the Black Forest is stunningly gorgeous with lots of outdoor activities.