Oktoberfest is back after two years of pandemic cancellations, with the same bicep-challenging beer mugs, fat-dripping pork knuckles, pretzels the size of dinner plates, men in leather shorts and women in cleavage-baring traditional attire.
Brewers are excited to welcome thirsty tourists back to the Bavarian capital, but they and the tourists who come to enjoy it will be feeling the pinch of inflation at an unimaginable level before 2019.
A 1-litre glass of beer will set you back between €12.60 and €13.80 (A$18.70 and A$20.50) this year, up approximately 15% from 2019, according to the official Oktoberfest portal.
Last Saturday noon, the Munich mayor tapped the first keg and declared “O’zapft is,” which means “It’s tapped” in Bavarian.
The inflationary trend affecting the German economy is reflected in the rising prices the country’s brewers face. While companies and consumers face rising energy costs due to skyrocketing natural gas prices brought on by Russia’s war in Ukraine, manufacturers struggle to meet the rising demand for replacement parts and raw materials following the global pandemic.
Barley malt, or grain allowed to sprout by moistening it, is used in brewing, and its price has more than quadrupled to almost €600 per tonne. The cost of electricity for glass manufacturers has increased by 80 percent, driving up the price of glass bottles. Labelling supplies, such as adhesive, are in limited supply, and bottle caps have increased by 60%.
Everything’s more expensive this year, said Sebastian Utz, chief technician at the famous Hofbrau Brewery in Munich, which dates to 1589. “A large amount of power is required for the brewing process and cooling of the beer. Barley malt and hops are two examples of essential but more expensive basic ingredients.
Cardboard, stainless steel for barrels, wood pallets, and cleaning materials to keep the brewing tanks sparkling have increased in price.
Ulrich Biene, the spokesperson for the historic family-owned Veltins Brewery in Gravenstein (not one of the brands offered during Oktoberfest), said, “These are pricing that the German brewing business has never seen before.”
In August, annual inflation in Germany reached 7.9 percent, and in the 19 nations using the euro, it gained a record 9.1 percent. Russia’s stifling of natural gas supply has been a significant contributor to Europe’s soaring consumer costs.
All of it ends up in the prices consumers pay, and as a result, they have less money to spend.
Whatever the case may be, Oktoberfest provides a significant economic boost to Munich’s hospitality, tourist, and food service sectors.
“It’s lovely,” Mayor Dieter Reiter stated. “It’s clear that the excitement has returned.” He downplayed fears of such a significant occurrence during the pandemic, saying COVID-19 spread is “no longer the decisive factor” and added, “Let’s see how it goes.”
Oktoberfest will have 487 beer brewers, restaurants, fish and meat grills, wine sellers, and other food and beverage, vendors. The first beer tents start at 9 a.m. and finish at 10:30 p.m. At 9:30 p.m., the last orders will be taken.
Before COVID-19, over 6 million people attended the events each year, many of them dressed in traditional Bavarian clothing – the women in Dirndl gowns, the men in Lederhosen.
Oktoberfest, initially celebrated in 1810 to commemorate Crown Prince Ludwig of Bavaria’s marriage to Princess Therese, has been cancelled dozens of times owing to wars and pandemics throughout its more than 200-year existence.
This year’s festivities run through 3 October.