Why drink beer from a boot? (The History of Das Boot)
Well, why not? Every night during our Oktoberfest celebration we pit two teams against each other for a drinking relay. The first four members of the team must chug a half-liter of beer and the final member a one-liter boot. The fastest team becomes victorious and is showered with gifts and glory. Throughout the years we’ve seen some epic battles take place on the Oktoberfest stage and this year for the first time, we’ll be bringing the “Das Boot” competition to the restaurant for Halftoberfest, but where did this crazy tradition come from?
The boot drinking vessels actually appeared first in England in the early 19th century. They were riding boots and served at hunting lodges. They did not stay in fashion for very long, however. You can easily spot the English beer boots because the boot will have a spur strap and they are often rimmed with silver. These glasses are highly sought after by collectors.
By the mid 19th century, the beer boot made its way to Germany and became very popular. The tradition of drinking beer from a boot started in the military as a hazing ritual. Young men were initiated into their troop by having to drink an entire boot of beer from the literal boot of a fellow soldier. This ritual became one of pride and congratulations. It is widely believed that generals would offer their troops the reward of drinking from the general’s own boot for a battle won. There is no record of that promise ever actually being fulfilled, however. Boots were later engraved and given as gifts to honor servicemen or retirees.
After World War II, American’s brought the beer boot back to their home. Companies began producing and selling their own boots to beer drinkers. Cowboy boots were even made and marketed across the Southwest. The boot really didn’t reach popularity in the United States, however, until the release of the movie “Beerfest” in 2006. The movie depicts a German drinking contest, which culminates with chugging from a two-liter beer boot aptly named “Das Boot”. Das Boot of course translates to The Boat not the boot and is the title of a famous German movie from 1981 starring Jürgen Prochnow who not by coincidence also stars in “Beerfest.”
The name of the game may be a little off target, but we think it fits perfectly for our favorite feat of drink. Not to mention it sounds great when chanted by a merry crowd. So join us at Alpine Village for Halftoberfest and any night of Oktoberfest to see two teams of thirsty partiers go head to head and compete to win DAS BOOT!