The first thing you should know about Oktoberfest for non-beer drinkers is that it’s still going to be one hell of a good time! So many people have said Oktoberfest is not for them because they don’t drink beer—because they don’t like it, because they are gluten-free, or because they don’t drink at all—and I’m here to counter that argument.
Ok sure, Oktoberfest is definitely marketed as the world’s largest beer festival… but it’s so much more than that! And sadly, so many people don’t even try to look past this and see the glory beer-yond.
Beer may be the most consumed beverage at Oktoberfest by a long shot (7 million liters a year, yo), but guess what? It’s not your only option! *gasp!* So, I’m going to answer the questions I get asked most often as a tour guide and Oktoberfest travel planner about Oktoberfest for non-beer drinkers.
Please don’t ditch the ‘fest before you get to know it! She really is the whole package. Hubba-hubba!
And for those of you who do love beer, or if you know someone who does, here’s everything you need to know about the beer served at Oktoberfest.
1. Don’t panic! You have options.
If the first thing you should know about Oktoberfest for non-beer drinkers is that you’re going to have fun anyway, then the second thing is that you have options other than beer.
So, if you’ve been worried that you’ll have to drink beer while you’re there, or that you’ll die of thirst if you don’t drink at all, DON’T PANIC! Beer may be the shining star of Oktoberfest, but it’s not the only thing you can drink there. Oktoberfest for non-beer drinkers can still be enjoyed with:
- Wine – lots and lots of wine, red white, white wine, sparkling wine
- Champagne, prosecco, sekt
- Liquor – gin, vodka, Jäger, and beyond
- Non-alcoholic beer
- Soft drinks – soda, juice, water
- Even energy drinks
- Coffee – nature’s energy drink
Yes, it’s true, all of that can be found at Oktoberfest if you just know where to look. (Which is a lot more places than you might think.)
There’s a lot more you probably don’t know about Oktoberfest (but definitely should). Get the lowdown on all the lesser-known Oktoberfest facts here.
Where to find these options
I’ll point you in the right direction of where to find these options, but keep in mind that I’m focusing on the big Oktoberfest beer tents here because I know that’s where you’re going to spend most of your time.
However, also know that the small Oktoberfest tents have a lot more options. At the small tents you can find almost anything non-beer you could dream of: all liquor options, schnapps, wines, cordials, cocktails, tea, coffee, all kinds of non-alcoholic beverages, and more.
2. Do you have to drink beer at Oktoberfest?
No, you do not have to drink beer at Oktoberfest. Beer may be the apple of Oktoberfest’s eye, but drinking it is not mandatory. You still have free will instead the beer tents, people!
Yes, beer is the popular option, but no one will judge you for ordering something other than beer. Oktoberfest is a judgment-free zone. (…for the most part. Please don’t wear a cheap “Beerfest Babe” costume.)
Lots of people drink other things at Oktoberfest besides beer and, you know what? Everyone else thinks it’s awesome because: “I had no idea you could get wine at Oktoberfest!” Now you look like you’re in-the-know. Which you are, because you follow me. 😁
In reference to the comment above, here’s what you need to know about what to wear to Oktoberfest (and, more importantly, what NOT to wear).
3. Is there cider at Oktoberfest?
In discussing Oktoberfest for non-beer drinkers, this is one of the first questions that come up. And, sadly, the answer is no. While cider is a popular beer-fallback here in the U.S., such is not the case at Oktoberfest.
However, if it’s apples you want, apples you can get. In that case, you’ll want to look for what’s called Apfelsaftschorle.
Apfelsaftschorle is basically an apple juice spritzer. Literally, apple juice mixed with carbonated water. However, it is non-alcoholic. But it’s still an Oktoberfest for non-beer drinkers option that’s somewhere in the realm of cider. Look for apfelsaftschorle at these beer tents:
Fruit juice spritzers
You can also find red and black currant spritzers (also alcohol-free) at a few of the tents if, like me, you’re allergic to apples. You can find red currant spritzer at the Löwenbräu tent and black currant spritzer at the Schottenhamel tent.
4. Try a radler
If you don’t like the taste of beer but still want a big ol’ stein to hoist, get yourself a radler. If you’re into cider, there’s a good chance you’ll be into radlers too.
Radlers at Oktoberfest are half beer / half lemon soda and they are dee-lish! They look like beer, come in a liter stein like beer, and no one will ever know you’re not drinking beer. They don’t even really taste like beer. They just taste like… radlers. Like a sweet, beer-esque substitute. *chef’s kiss*
Unfortunately though, they do cost the same as a beer. (This is not one of the major Oktoberfest scams out there, but perhaps it should be!)
This 50/50 mix is the perfect solution if you want to join in the Oktoberfest spirit but not commit to a full beer (yet). Or just need something to hold for great Oktoberfest photos. Radlers are also a great gateway drink in case you want to try working your way up to drinking beer at Oktoberfest.
They’re also the perfect way to start your day at Oktoberfest if you’ll be hitting the beer tents when they open. (I start all my Oktoberfest mornings with a radler, as a matter of fact!)
Beer at Oktoberfest is stronger than you may be used to (and there’s so much of it). Oktoberfest’s festbiers run between 6.0% alcohol (Hacker-Pschorr) and 6.3% (Augustiner and Hofbräu). Plus, they’re all served by the liter. So it’s totally fine if you want to ease into it. Oktoberfest is a marathon, after all.
Not all Oktoberfest beer tents offer radlers—I believe there are a couple who don’t—but most of them do. You shouldn’t have a problem finding yourself a radler.
Think you know a lot about Oktoberfest? Take my Oktoberfest trivia quiz and find out!
5. Do they have non-alcoholic beer at Oktoberfest?
You may be surprised to find that, yes, they do serve non-alcoholic beer at Oktoberfest! Not every beer tent offers this but enough do that you won’t have to stay in one tent for your whole Oktoberfest trip.
Non-alcoholic beer at Oktoberfest—unfortunately—costs the same as a regular beer at Oktoberfest and also comes in a liter stein. You can find non-alcoholic versions at these Oktoberfest beer tents:
- Marstall (alcohol-free Löwenbräu)
- Ochsenbraterei (alcohol-free Spaten)
- Pschorr-Braurosl (alcohol-free Hacker-Pschorr)
- Schottenhamel (alcohol-free Spaten)
- Schützen (alcohol-free Löwenbräu)
While these beer tents flat-out call these beers “alcohol-free” – know that in Germany these beers can still have a very small percentage of alcohol, like 0.5%. Some of the beer tent menus put the word “Schankbier” next to their non-alcoholic options, which basically means there’s still a little bit of alcohol in there. Just something to keep in mind if this is an issue for you.
6. Where to find wine at Oktoberfest
Believe it or not, there are actually a good number of places at which to find wine at Oktoberfest! And you don’t have to spend all day at the wine tent either (despite popular belief).
Kufflers Weinzelt – the wine tent
So yes, one of the big Oktoberfest beer tents is actually a wine tent—Kufflers Weinzelt. I am not a wine drinker but even I love this tent. It has a totally different feel than a regular beer tent—more like you’re in a huge Alpine lodge. And the seating in here is unique too—booths instead of traditional beer garden benches.
At the wine tent, you have a lot of ways to enjoy Oktoberfest for non-beer drinkers. First and foremost, there’s wine. White wine, red wine, rosé, sparkling wine, Champagne, prosecco, and sekt (German-style sparkling wine). You can buy it by the glass or by the bottle. Yes, like a regular, human-sized wine glass. Not a mug made for a giant.
They have tons of options too—everything from the totally affordable and reasonable to the almost €5000 bottles. Order carefully, here! Remember that periods and commas are reversed in Europe. So, a $5,000 bottle of wine in Germany will look like: €5.000 – that is not a five dollar bottle of champagne, got it?
(Kufflers Weinzelt also has liquor and beer options, which I’ll get to in a minute.)
Where else to get wine at Oktoberfest
While the wine tent is obviously the most well-known place to get wine and champagne, it’s not the only place. You can also find wine at these other Oktoberfest tents:
Most of the small Oktoberfest tents serve wine as well, and some of the big ones have it but don’t have it on their menus – like Hofbräu. If you don’t see wine listed on the menu, it certainly does hurt to ask.
Important note: the wine tent serves wine in regular sized wine glasses but not all the others do. In fact, you’ll likely get 0.3 or 0.4 liters of wine. At Armbrustschützenzelt, you get your wine served in a 0.4L ceramic mug that you get to keep! The point here = you’re going to be drinking lots of wine.
7. Where to find liquor at Oktoberfest
Yes! You can even find liquor and spirits at Oktoberfest as well. I told you Oktoberfest for non-beer drinkers was a real thing!
You won’t find liquor as many places as you’ll find beer and wine, but you still have options. If you’ve got hard booze on the brain, check out these Oktoberfest beer tents for the hard stuff:
- Armbrustschützenzelt – You may not be able to order it at your table, but this tent has the Halali Bar where you can get spirits and bubbles and more.
- Kufflers Weinzelt – The wine tent also sells vodka and gin. They also have four bars inside this awesome tent.
- Schützen – This tent sells vodka and Jäger. So if you were wondering where to get Jägermeister at Oktoberfest, here you go.
- Fischer Vroni – Gin, Jäger also, you can even get a Moscow Mule and an Aperol Spritz here.
Schnapps at Oktoberfest
Schnapps are another popular non-beer Oktoberfest option. They come in many different flavors (hazelnut, cherry, etc.) and you can find them in the three tents listed above plus the Marstall and Fischer Vroni tents. Different tents have different flavor options.
Liquor at the smaller tents
Keep in mind that the info above pertains only to the big beer tents. However, if your need for hard liquor outweighs your need to be inside a big tent, know that your options just opened up.
At many of the smaller tents you can find all kinds of liquor options. For instance, check out the Wiesn Guglhupf. This is the smallest tent at Oktoberfest with just 60 seats and actually has a revolving carousel bar meant to look like a bundt cake. 😂 You can make this stuff up.
Besides this fun fact, they have a full bar. You can get Aperol spritz, tequila, whiskey, rum, Bailey’s, even grappa and Sambucca, and much more. Here’s their cold drinks menu from 2019 to see what I mean.
8. Don’t try to bring in your own booze
I’ve heard from people who say they just brought in a flask of some kind of liquor and mixed it with a Coke or something. Please don’t do this. You will get your ass kicked out of the beer tent and I have seen the dudes who throw you out. You don’t want to be manhandled by these beasts! (I once saw them toss out a guy dressed as Jesus. They aren’t messing around.)
And, seriously. Do you really think the servers don’t know what’s up when everyone else is drinking beer and you’re drinking a Coke… but acting just as foolish? I was a server and bartender for ten years. Trust me, they know. THEY KNOW ALL. It’s cute how sly you think you’re being though.
This may be Oktoberfest for non-beer drinkers, but you’re still in their house, so follow their rules. If you have to enjoy Oktoberfest without beer, at least do it respectfully. There are two groups of people at Oktoberfest you want on your good side: the servers and the bouncers. Don’t jeopardize this!
9. What kind of non-alcoholic drinks at Oktoberfest
If you’re looking up information on Oktoberfest for people who don’t drink beer because… you just don’t drink alcohol at all, you’re in luck also! Literally so many people think that Oktoberfest is all about beer and nothing else. This is false.
While you may not be able to find wine or schnapps in all of the tents, you can 100% find non-alcoholic drinks in every single beer tent. However, their options do vary a little bit. Here are the non-alcoholic drinks you can expect to find at Oktoberfest in Munich:
- Soda – usually Coke and/or Sprite but some tents have Afri-cola, a German kind of cola
- Fanta, orange soda
- Spezi and/or Schwip Schwap – This is a kind of cola + orange soda mixture that’s popular in Germany. You may also see it on some menus as “Cola mix” or “Mezzo-mix.”
- Fruit juice – usually apple or orange juice but the Armbrustschützenzelt sells grape juice too
- The apple juice spritzers and currant spritzers I mentioned earlier
- Red bull at Schützen and Kufflers Weinzelt tents
- Coffee at Schützen, Fischer Vroni, and Käfer tents as well as some of the small tents and booths around the Wiesn
Keep in mind that just because they are non-alcoholic doesn’t mean they’re cheap. These drinks inside the tents (with the exception of Red Bull and coffee for obvious reasons) are usually served by the half-liter and cost around €5. And for all the Americans out there: No, you do not get free refills.
Water at Oktoberfest
At Oktoberfest, you can (and should!) buy a round of waters every now and then. All the tents offer water, but they all have different options. You’ll see all kinds of water at Oktoberfest: tap water, bottled water, sparkling, mineral, flat, fancy, super fancy, and super duper fancy water.
The fancy waters are served in bottles but you can also get ½ liters of just regular ol’ water too. But sadly you’ll still pay around €5 per glass with no refills. It’s steep, definitely, but still necessary.
Bring extra hydration
Staying hydrated at Oktoberfest is soooooo important. During my whole Oktoberfest trip I’m steady drinking water with extra electrolytes. I always pack a whole bag of the Liquid IV packets and add those to any water I drink. They come in a bunch of flavors and I consider them a must-have for Oktoberfest.
Other drinks outside the beer tents
In addition to the drinks listed above, outside the big beer tents you can find a lot more. At many of the smaller “tents” and booths all around the Wiesn you can also find tea, hot chocolate, fruit punch, and other options.
The smaller tents you’ll have to enter, but the food and drink booths all have their menus prominently posted when you walk up.
10. Try the beer anyway
Ok, just hear me out. I get it… you don’t like beer. You’ve had beer before and you know you don’t like it. But have you ever had Oktoberfest festbier? In a tent with 10,000 happy people? All singing along and dancing around in fun outfits? Because it’s different. I promise.
First of all, Munich’s festbiers are superior to all other beers. Yeah, I said it and I will fight you on it. These beers may be huge and they may have more alcohol than a standard American lager, but they are the smoothest-drinking beer there is. Hello? These same breweries have been making this stuff for almost a thousand years—they know what they’re doing.
Munich festbiers are clean and smooth and just really easy to drink EVEN FOR PEOPLE WHO SUPPOSEDLY “DON’T LIKE BEER.” I’m not making this up, I have spent days at Oktoberfest with friends who I have never seen drink a beer before. And they drank liter upon liter of this stuff and said they actually liked it! And I’ve heard from so many others who’ve said the same.
Oktoberfest beers are special
I should also mention that, even if you have had an “Octoberfest” beer before (and didn’t like it), you definitely have not had a Munich festbier until you’ve been to Oktoberfest. The beers served at Oktoberfest are specially brewed and only served at Oktoberfest. They are special.
Plus, there’s just something about the atmosphere. The Germans call it gemütlichkeit. It’s fun and excitement and good times with good people, and it’s contagious. And drinking the beer is a big part of this concept. You just get wrapped up in it like a warm fleece blanket.
Obviously, as I’ve said, you can absolutely enjoy Oktoberfest without beer. BUT – if the reason you don’t want to drink it is because you “don’t like beer,” please keep an open mind and at least try it here at Oktoberfest. Maybe ease into it with a radler.
11. The wheat beer option at Oktoberfest
Ok, so maybe you don’t like “regular” beers but you like wheat beer. I’ve heard that from many people too. (I’ve worked in many beer bars and taprooms as well.) If this is the case, you’re in a bit of luck!
It’s true that the big Oktoberfest tents only sell beer from the big six Munich breweries (Augustiner, Hacker-Pschorr, Hofbräu, Löwenbräu, Paulaner, and Spaten), and that they all serve their specially-brewed festbiers by the liter. But wait, there’s more!
At a few select areas you can also find wheat beer – aka Weissbier, weißbier, hefeweizen, hefe weißbier, etc. Here’s where to go:
- Kufflers Weinzelt – The wine tent actually does sell one kind of beer: ½ liters of Paulaner Hefe-Weißbier
- Marstall – The Marstall tent sells Spaten Franziskaner
- Marstall – You can also get a Spaten Franziskaner radler here!
Again, keep in mind that you can find these and others at some of the small Oktoberfest tents as well. For instance, the Ammer tent (the one with the roasting chicken out front) has Augustiner Weißbier.
And if you’re a fan of wheat beers, you absolutely should check out the Weißbierkarussell – literally a bar that’s a rotating carousel that serves both Paulaner and Hofbräu weisbier!
You definitely need to read about the time I got trapped on a Spaten brewery tour. (At least to learn what NOT to do when touring a Munich brewery.)
12. How to find what drinks each Oktoberfest tent serves
As you can see, you have plenty of options. But I understand the need to plan ahead, especially if you have certain dietary preferences or restrictions. So, here’s how to find out what kind of beverages (besides beer) each Oktoberfest beer tent serves.
Each of the Oktoberfest beer tents (big and small) puts their menu online ahead of time. Some still have their 2019 menus you can check out. Most will wait to post their 2022 food and drink menus in August or September, so you still have a little bit of advance notice.
Sometimes they put up an English menu, sometimes only German, but really it’s not hard to figure out.
- Wasser = water
- Cola = soda, Coke / Zitronenlimo (lemon and lime) = Sprite
- Wein = wine / weiss = white /rot = red
- Kaffee = coffee
- Alkoholfrei = gee, I wonder?
Oktoberfest beer tent drink menus
Drinks (Getränke) at Oktoberfest are almost always listed on the very back of the menu as the last items. If your browser doesn’t automatically translate their webpages for you, look for the word Speisekarte (menu) or Speis und trank (food and drink). Here are the menu pages for each of the big Oktoberfest beer tents:
13. Oktoberfest for non-beer drinkers: Beware the Ein Prosit
As a beer drinker myself, the song Ein Prosit is one of my favorite things about Oktoberfest. It’s a super quick song that the bands play what seems like every 15 minutes or so. During the song you raise your glass and then cheers and take a drink at the end. But it. is. often.
It’s one thing to do this with beer… but another to do it with something like wine. If you’re going to be doing this every single times it comes on (and you will! It’s the law!), maybe take smaller than usual sips or you are going to be deeeee-runk faster than your beer-drinking buddies.
14. You still have to drink something
Even if you’re experiencing Oktoberfest as a non-beer drinker, you still have to drink something. I know it hurts to pay €5 every time you want some water or Sprite, but you can’t sit in the beer tent and not order anything at all. That’s precious real estate right there!
If you’re eating, fine. (Without drinking though? What kind of monster are you?) As long as you’re spending money. So even if you’re not drinking beer at Oktoberfest, at least drink something at Oktoberfest.
I have seen people get asked to vacate their seats because they were just sitting there and hanging out and not ordering anything. (And we eager-to-spend folks needed a place to sit. You feel me?) This is not an official rule, just more like common capitalism sense. If you’ve ever hustled at a serving job, you know the pain of this.
That being said, you’re not going to get kicked out if you drink too slow. This is a question I was asked recently and I love it because I am the slowest Oktoberfest drinker there is and have yet to be booted.
15. What to do at Oktoberfest besides drink beer
If you’re interested in seeing what else there is to do at Oktoberfest for non-beer drinkers besides hang out in the beer tents, here you go.
There are tons of rides at Oktoberfest—fast ones, high ones, swing-y ones, and everything else. I personally love the giant Ferris wheel for awesome views of the festival to one side, and the Alps on the other. Pro tip: All rides are ½ price on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
And if you don’t want to ride any, it’s just as fun watching other people on them. Of important note here are the Devil’s Wheel (the Teufelsrad) and the Toboggan – both are more fun for the people watching than the people actually on them!
There are parades during opening weekend and performances throughout like the outdoor concert on the second Sunday with brass bands and Alphorns. There’s the traditional gun salute featuring the winners of the Oktoberfest crossbow shooting competition (you read that right) on the last day.
There’s souvenir shopping and photo booths, a strongman game (and other carnival-style games), as well as endless amount of amazing, life-changing Bavarian food!
Have a great time experiencing Oktoberfest for non-beer drinkers!
What non-beer beverage will you be drinking at Oktoberfest this year?
Let me know in the comments below!
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