While the beer-loving masses often find themselves a bit disheveled following a raucous night of Oktoberfest drinking, one German group says festival organizers have them over a barrel before the first pint is even poured.
The price of beer at the renowned Bavarian bacchanal has jumped 43 per cent over the last decade, and this year will be no exception. The average price of a liter at this year’s Oktoberfest will be 9.35 euro – up 35 cents from last year. With festival sales reaching 7.5 million liters for 2011 at the annual Munich-based brew festival, organizers will see a pretty penny with the latest price bump, and tensions are bubbling.
But one association is looking to bring the issue to a head, seeking a fairer shake at the tap by starting a petition to put a cap on the price of a pint.
"We're aiming for a maximum price limit of 7.10 euro ($9) per liter for all beverages," Jans-Ulrich Bittlinger, the association's president, told the German daily Der Spiegel. The petition also seeks to set a 15 cent annual limit on how much the price can be increased.
The group hopes to kick off the campaign on September 22, opening day for the 16-day festival. The association aims to collect between 30,000 and 40,000 signatures – the amount necessary to hold an official referendum – with a mind to pressuring authorities before Munich’s mayoral election in 2014.
"For the City of Munich, it is entirely possible to set this kind of upper limit," says Bittlinger, whose association represents 4,000 members.
However, city authorities opposed the referendum, saying municipal administrators had no part in setting beer prices.
Toni Roiderer, the spokesman for the Oktoberfest beer tents, told the German paper would-be revelers were simply seeking to pull a fast one of their own by pressuring local politicians to intervene.
"Why do these people demand a price limit of 7.10 euro? Why don't they just demand free beer for everyone at Oktoberfest?"
Deriding the referendum as “pure populism”, Roidrer argued that vendors invested millions to operate a tent at Oktoberfest, and had to recoup their losses by upping the price of the much-coveted liquid gold they’d be selling by the keg.
If Oktoberfest organizers didn’t already have enough on their plate, local newspaper Munich TZ reported earlier this week that breweries did not have enough bottles to supply the festival following a spike in consumption over the warmer than usual summer.
“Dear Munichers — bring back your crates. We need our empties,” Heiner Müller, manager at the Paulaner and Hacker-Pschorr brewery, told the local daily.
Spaten and Löwenbräu also reported a shortage of 30-liter kegs, with Hofbräu spokesman Stefan Hempl saying the brewer would have to put stouts on the backburner, as lagers and wheat beer have been given priority.
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