Oktoberfest is back but inflation hits brewers, cost of beer

Sep 15, 2022, 3:42 PM | Updated: Sep 16, 2022, 9:05 am
A man mounts a light advertisement on a booth on the Oktoberfest grounds in Munich, Germany, Thursd...

A man mounts a light advertisement on a booth on the Oktoberfest grounds in Munich, Germany, Thursday, Sept. 15, 2022. The Oktoberfest is on tap again in Germany after a two-year pandemic interruption. The beer will be just as cold and the pork knuckle just as juicy. But brewers and visitors are under pressure from inflation in ways they could hardly imagine in 2019. (Peter Kneffel/dpa via AP)

(Peter Kneffel/dpa via AP)

MUNICH (AP) — Oktoberfest is back in Germany after two years of pandemic cancellations — 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 dresses.

But while brewers are more than glad to see the return of the Bavarian capital’s sudsy tourist centerpiece, both they and visitors are under pressure from inflation in a way that could scarcely be imagined the last time it was held in 2019.

For one thing, the 1-liter (2-pint) mug of beer will cost between 12.60 and 13.80 euros ($12.84 and $14.07) this year, which is an increase of about 15% compared with 2019, according to the official Oktoberfest homepage.

The event opens at noon Saturday when Munich’s mayor taps the first keg and announces “O’zapft is,” or “It’s tapped” in Bavarian dialect.

For Germany’s brewers, rising costs go much deeper than simply the price of a round at the festival’s long wooden benches. They are facing higher prices all along their chain of production, from raw ingredients like barley and hops to finishing touches such as beer caps and packing material.

It’s a mirror of the inflation running across the economy: Sky-high natural gas prices caused by Russia’s war in Ukraine are boosting what businesses and consumers have to pay for energy, while recovering demand from the pandemic is making parts and raw materials hard to come by.

Brewing equipment is often fueled by natural gas, and prices for barley malt — or grain that has been allowed to germinate by moistening it — have more than doubled, to over 600 euros a ton. Glass bottles have risen by 80%, as glassmakers pay more for energy. Bottle caps are up 60%, and even glue for labels is in short supply.

“Prices for everything have changed significantly this year,” said Sebastian Utz, head technician at Munich’s historic Hofbraeu Brewery, which traces its roots in the city to 1589. “To brew beer you need a lot of energy … and for refrigeration. And at the same time, we need raw materials — barley malt, hops — where procurement has increased in price.”

The costs of everything — cardboard, stainless steel for barrels, wood pallets, cleaning supplies to keep the brewing tanks spotless — have gone up.

“These are prices that the German brewing industry has never seen before,” said Ulrich Biene, spokesman for the historic family-owned Veltins Brewery in Grevenstein, which is not one of the brands sold at Oktoberfest.

Inflation hit an annual 7.9% in Germany in August, and a record 9.1% in the 19 countries that use the euro currency. Rising consumer prices in Europe have been fueled above all by Russia restricting supplies of natural gas, driving prices through the roof. That feeds through to electricity, because gas is used to generate power, and to the cost of a host of industrial processes that run on gas, such as making fertilizer, glass and steel. Farmers also are seeing higher costs for heating buildings and fertilizing crops.

All that gets built into the prices of things people buy, and those higher prices cut into their purchasing power.

Inflation is “running red hot in Germany” and could approach 10% by year’s end, said Carsten Brzeski, chief eurozone economist at ING bank. The rate should fall next year as consumer demand weakens — but that is small consolation today.

In any case, Oktoberfest is a much-needed boost for Munich’s hotels and food service industry.

“It’s beautiful,” Mayor Dieter Reiter said. “You can see the enthusiasm has returned.” He downplayed concerns about such a big event during the pandemic, saying the spread of COVID-19 is “no longer the decisive factor” and adding, “Let’s see how it goes.”

Some 487 beer breweries, restaurants, fish and meat grills, wine vendors and others will serve revelers at Oktoberfest, and opening hours will be even longer than in the past, with the first beer tents opening at 9 a.m. and closing at 10:30 p.m. The last orders will be taken at 9:30 p.m.

In the years before COVID-19, about 6 million people visited the celebrations annually, many of them dressed in traditional Bavarian garb — the women in Dirndl dresses, the men in Lederhosen, or knee-length leather trousers.

Oktoberfest, first held in 1810 in honor of the marriage of Crown Prince Ludwig of Bavaria to Princess Therese, has been canceled dozens of times during its more than 200-year history due to wars and pandemics.

___

AP Business Writer David McHugh contributed from Frankfurt, Germany.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Former Bremerton High School assistant football coach Joe Kennedy answers questions after his legal...
Luis Andres Henao, The Associated Press

After Supreme Court backs Bremerton praying coach, no sweeping changes

Three months after the decision, there’s no sign that large numbers of coaches have been newly inspired to follow Joseph Kennedy’s high-profile example.
20 hours ago
FILE - Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha arrives at the Government House in Bangkok, Thailand, ...
Associated Press

Thai court to rule if Prayuth has overstayed PM’s term limit

BANGKOK (AP) — Thailand’s Constitutional Court is set to rule Friday on whether Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha has exceeded the term limits of his job and must leave office immediately. A ruling in Prayuth’s favor is considered likely but risks invigorating a protest movement long opposed to his government because he came to power undemocratically. […]
20 hours ago
Associated Press

2 rock climbers found dead in Southern California

IDYLLWILD, Calif. (AP) — Two rock climbers were found dead near a Southern California peak after rescue crews responded to reports of injuries, authorities said. Rescuers were called around 12:30 p.m. Wednesday to Tahquitz Rock near Idyllwild following a distress call, the Cal Fire/Riverside County Fire Department said on Twitter. A team managed to climb […]
20 hours ago
U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris, center left, stands next to the demarcation line at the demilita...
Associated Press

S. Korea, US and Japan hold anti-N. Korean submarine drills

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — South Korea, U.S. and Japanese warships launched their first anti-submarine drills in five years on Friday, after North renewed ballistic missile tests this week in an apparent response to bilateral training by South Korean and U.S. forces. The North’s recent five missiles launches, the first such tests in a month, […]
20 hours ago
FILE - Sheriff's deputies recover the remains of a victim of the Camp Fire in Paradise, Calif., Nov...
Associated Press

Ex-PG&E execs to pay $117M to settle lawsuit over wildfires

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Former executives and directors of Pacific Gas & Electric have agreed to pay $117 million to settle a lawsuit over devastating 2017 and 2018 California wildfires sparked by the utility’s equipment, it was announced Thursday. The settlement was announced by the PG&E Fire Victim Trust, which was established to handle claims […]
20 hours ago
(Photo Illustration by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)...
Associated Press

GOP candidate apologizes after antisemitic post surfaces

A GOP candidate for the Washington Legislature has acknowledged that a post he put on social media in 2020 is antisemitic.
20 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Work at Zum Services...

Seattle Public Schools announces three-year contract with Zum

Seattle Public Schools just announced a three-year contract with a brand-new company to the Pacific Northwest to assist with their student transportation: Zum.
Swedish Cyberknife 900x506...

June is Men’s Health Month: Here’s Why It’s Important To Speak About Your Health

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, men in the United States, on average, die five years earlier than women.
...

Anacortes – A Must Visit Summertime Destination

While Anacortes is certainly on the way to the San Juan Islands (SJI), it is not just a destination to get to the ferry… Anacortes is a destination in and of itself!
...

Ready for your 2022 Alaskan Adventure with Celebrity Cruises?

Celebrity Cruises SPONSORED — A round-trip Alaska cruise from Seattle is an amazing treat for you and a loved one. Not only are you able to see and explore some of the most incredible and visually appealing natural sights on the planet, but you’re also able to relax and re-energize while aboard a luxury cruise […]
Oktoberfest is back but inflation hits brewers, cost of beer