Drink or flirt: there's a beer fest app for that

Sep 23, 2012 by Richard Carter
Photo shows an overview by night of the Oktoberfest beer festival at the Theresienwiese in Munich, southern Germany, on September 22. This year's edition of the world's biggest beer fest will run until October 7.

Whether you want to know how long until you're sober, flirt with like-minded single revellers or where to stumble home after a few, help is only a click away at this year's Munich Oktoberfest.

Amid the pageantry, oompah and lederhosen associated with the world's biggest folk festival, a galaxy of ingenious apps for smartphones and this year have blasted the 202-year-old party into the 21st century.

The "official" Oktoberfest app was already proving popular with visitors, with more than 75,000 downloads.

It enables users to input their weight and height, as well as how many "Mass" (litre-sized beers) they have drunk and calculates their .

From this, the app also offers drunken revellers an estimate as to when they might feel sober again, but unfortunately no indication as to when the hangover might clear.

For weight-watching festival-goers, the app also tells you how many calories are lurking in the pork knuckle, suckling pig or giant pretzel.

One feature proving a hit at the festival grounds—packed despite driving rain—was real-time updates for tents that were already full to the rafters and not letting people in.

"Actually, I found it pretty useful. When I realised that most of the bigger places were already full, I just went to a smaller place," said Australian student Claire Taylor, 21, sheltering from a torrential downpour at a sausage stall.

Frugal German student Elis Strauss said she was using the app to compare prices at the various tents, amid complaints this year that the cost of a "Mass" has risen too far.

"I know before I go into a tent how full it is and how much the beer costs so I can make plans," said the 22-year-old, sporting a bright pink dirndl.

For friskier Oktoberfest visitors, there is the "Wiesn flirt and find" app, which enables you to set up a profile, write messages to other like-minded singles and even invite people for a beer or a spin on a nearby rollercoaster.

Users upload a photo (traditional dress preferred), their age and what sort of person they would like to meet and the app pairs potential couples up and passes on their respective locations.

Other apps especially suitable for non-Munich dwellers are a translation device that renders the particular Bavarian accent into something approaching high German and an that teaches you the best Oktoberfest beer songs.

Prudent drinkers can also take advantage of a feature allowing you to input your home or hotel and receive directions if you may have overindulged somewhat on the suds.

"Actually, I have programmed that in, but I don't reckon I'll need it," said Richard Stroebele, a 31-year-old German builder, before adding: "Well, you never know."

Around six million people are expected to attend this year's Oktoberfest, but for those unable to make it there are a host of webcams enabling them to get a small slice of the action remotely.

And for those who have always wanted to own their own Munich beer fest tent, an enterprising German company has set up a simulation game especially for this year's festival.

"Oktoberfestmanager" allows you to control the temperature of your tent (a warmer hall means more beer consumed), recruit your waiters and waitresses in traditional garb and even employ spies to sabotage the competition.

"The beer fest is of course an event that is known all around the world. People come from everywhere, from Japan to Australia, every year to experience the event live," said Michaela Schultheis, spokeswoman for the Munich-based firm behind the game.

"We're sure that the game is not just a souvenir of the event but also a sort of consolation for people who have not been able to go."

This year's Oktoberfest runs until October 7.

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