If there is one German invention we love most (aside from automobiles, gummy bears and aspirin), it would have to be Oktoberfest. An annual autumn festival held every October in Munich, Germany, the tradition can be traced back to 1810 and is said to have started after the people of Bavaria were invited to celebrate the royal wedding of King Ludwig I and Princess Therese of Saxony-Hildburghausen. While the first years of Oktoberfest were more focused on horse racing and agricultural fairs, the event slowly evolved into a major funfair backed by Germany’s breweries. With its popularity, other cities began staging their very own versions of Oktoberfest. If you are in Southeast Asia for Oktoberfest this year, here are some ideas on how you can join in the fun of this famous beer festival.
Cheers to local beers
While you’ll find the likes of Guinness, Kronenbourg, Heineken, Carlsberg and Budweiser everywhere, hometown drinkers prefer their own because, not only are the local beers cheaper, they are brewed to perfectly match the region’s tropical climate, too. So, if you are in Singapore, order a Tiger Beer; in the Philippines, a Red Horse or a San Miguel Pale Pilsen; in Indonesia, a Bintang; in Cambodia, an Angkor; and in Thailand, either a Chang or a Cheers. When in Southeast Asia, chug what the locals chug!
The craft beer culture has been gaining popularity in the recent years, and the region has been giving birth to micro-breweries serving homegrown, flavourful pours packed with character. Singapore has the most flourishing craft beer scene in the region, with its myriad of independent breweries, which includes Little Island Brewing Co., Archipelago Brewery, award-winning Brewerkz, and the country’s first locally-owned company, RedDot, as well as numerous taprooms to spend your Oktoberfest nights in. In Manila, you can also try local craft beers such as Katipunan Craft Beer’s famous Indio Pale Ale or Joe’s Brew’s Sierra Madre Wheat Ale in bars such as Global Beer Exchange and The Hungry Hound.
Attend Oktoberfest events
If you want to celebrate Oktoberfest, Bavarian-style, sign up for Oktoberfest Asia‘s annual event in Singapore. This year, the festival is offering free-flowing beers starting at 6 p.m., Bavarian cuisine and a performance by Munich-based band Hofbrauhauswill. The event is being held on Tan Quee Lan Street from Oct. 13-15.
In Penang, Malaysia, the Malaysian-German Society (MGS) is also hosting their very own Oktoberfest on Oct. 21, promising German delicacies, original German Oktoberfest draught beers and performances, among other things. Cheers! Or, as they say in Germany, Prost!
Lay low at a speakeasy
If you are looking for a more quiet and laid-back Oktoberfest, celebrate your nights in one of the region’s trendy speakeasy bars (Southeast Asia is full of them!). If you’re in Malaysia’s capital, Kuala Lumpur, check out the newly-opened and aptly-named bar The Berlin for a few rounds of beer and bratwursts amid its red-lighted ambiance.
Do some beer and local food pairings
Find out which local dish pairs best with local beer by partaking in a little beer-and-food experiment at local food courts or resto-bars. In Singapore and Malaysia, it is quite typical for beers to be sold by “hawkers”. In fact, you’ll find Singapore’s first hawker stall Smith Street Taps in the city’s Chinatown food center. In the Philippines, where local food courts are not very common, beers are best enjoyed in bar and grills serving Filipino food such as happy-hour favourites Dencio’s or Gerry’s.
Drink by the beach
Take advantage of Southeast Asia’s beautiful beaches and celebrate Oktoberfest in the islands. Get wet and wild in notorious party destinations such as Boracay in the Philippines, Koh Phangan in Thailand and Gili Trawangan in Indonesia. For those who simply wish to enjoy a chill evening, savour a pint or an ice cold beer amid sea and sunset views in any of the region’s resort bars (our faves include Bali’s Rock Bar and Air Bar in Koh Samui).
Tend to your hangover with German breakfast
After a night of beer and merrymaking, keep the spirit of Oktoberfest alive by nursing that awful hangover with some delicious German breakfast. And, no, you don’t have to be in Germany to do just that. Several Southeast Asian capitals are also home to some amazing German bakeries and cafés: there is the Munchen Grill-Pub if you’re in Manila, Der Backmeister in Kuala Lumpur, Werner’s Oven in Singapore, and Mahlzeit n das Brot Bistro in Jakarta.Search for flights to Philippines
Where are you celebrating Oktoberfest?
Main image: istockphoto/valentinrussanov