The original German Oktoberfest comes sooner than its name implies: Each year, the celebration kicks off in late September. But that doesn't mean you can't throw an Oktoberfest bash any day of the year. These traditional German dishes -- paired with lots of German beer -- are all you need to get the party started.
Bavaria is home to more than 600 breweries, and the average adult there consumes 45 gallons of beer per year. Want to catch up? Start with the basics:
This "light one" is a clear, blonde, barley-based lager. Don't mistake "light" for low-calorie, though: The name describes only the color, not the carb or alcohol content.
The word means "dark," and this barley lager beer is just that -- brown, malty and full-bodied enough to count as a meal. Bavarian darks are creamy and nutty, even slightly sweet, rather than bitter.
Also known as Weizenbier ("wheat beer") or Hefeweizen ("yeast wheat"), this rich brew gets its distinctive white (weiss) hue from unfiltered yeast particles. It can be sweet with bananalike notes, spicy, or sour, with great yeasty flavor.
Germany imposes strict purity laws on breweries -- but not bartenders! This popular biergarten drink is part lemonlime soda, part helles (made with weissbier, it's called a Russ).