Ceremonial Oktoberfest Barrel

At noon on opening day of Oktoberfest, the Lord Mayor taps a Spaten barrel at the Schottenhamel Tent and shouts to a crowd of thousands, “O’zapft is!” (It's tapped). After this ceremonial tapping, all the tents are allowed to start selling beer and Oktoberfest has officially started. Having a ceremonial Oktoberfest barrel at your party adds an element of authenticity as well as a fun way to kick off your event. 

You will need the following materials to create your own ceremonial Oktoberfest barrel:

  • Wood Barrel ≈ $130
  • Sand Paper ≈ $5
  • Wood Stain ≈ $10
  • Metal Paint ≈ $10
  • Painters Tape ≈ $5
  • Oxyclean ≈ $5
  • Evergreen Garland ≈ $10
  • Ribbon ≈ $10
  • Paint Brushes ≈ $5

The hardest part of this project may be obtaining the barrel. I used The Barrel Broker out of Milwaukee, WI. If you don't have a dedicated barrel service, then you can always try local vineyards or breweries. Even if they don't sell barrels, they may be able to give you the contact information of someone who will. Otherwise, there is always Craigslist and Google. 

Once you have your barrel, take time to analyze its condition. It may be a good idea to sand your barrel if it has an especially rough surface. A smoother barrel will be easier to paint and decorate. 

Next, you should wash the barrel. The barrel I purchased was a used wine barrel with deep red stains. I began by blasting it with a power washer. Then I created a paste with Oxyclean and covered the barrel completely. I let the paste sit for about half an hour, and then I washed the barrel again. 

Once the barrel was completely dry, I painted the metal hoops. I began this process by using painters' tape to cover the wood next to the hoops. I went with black paint for my hoops and applied two coats. 

When the paint dried, I carefully removed the painters' tape from the wood. Then I taped off the hoops so I could apply the wood stain. Make sure your hoops are completely dry, or the tape will damage the fresh paint. The color of stain you use is entirely up to you. For my barrel, I went with pecan. I also applied two coats. Once your stain dries, remove the tape from the hoops. Your barrel will now be ready to decorate!

For decorations, I decided to copy the barrel used for the ceremonial keg tapping in Munich. The barrel is draped with evergreen garland and has blue/white and yellow/black ribbons. Additionally, I printed a Spaten logo and backed the paper with cardboard. You may decorate your barrel how you desire. 

Additionally, I drilled a hole in a stave between the bottom two hoops on the barrel for the tap. I purchased a brass tap on eBay for around $100. From there I fed in a plastic tube through the hole and out the existing bung hole, creating a glorified beer bong. I did not fill the entire barrel with beer because it would be a waste. Without a cooling system, the beer would get warm more quickly than desired. I am still working a a system to allow for the barrel to be properly tapped but without wasting large quantities of good beer. Stay tuned to this page for updates. 

If you have any questions, comments or advice, please post a comment.