Beer enthusiasts looking for a heftier alternative to watery Chinese brews only have weeks to wait before the 12th annual Shanghai Oktoberfest opens its taps for an 11-day Teutonic beer binge.
The Renaissance Yangtze Shanghai Hotel will host the event from Sept 16 to 26, with guests invited to empty their mugs - again and again - as the Shanghai edition aims to rival China's longstanding Qingdao and Dalian beer festivals.
Designed as a clone of the famed Oktoberfest, which draws thousands of beer-swilling locals and tourists to Germany's third-largest city of Munich, the Shanghai version promises to be the most authentic replica yet, according to organizer Gary Fung.
"True to the original, our hotel is erecting a large marquee capable of holding 1,300 people, complete with authentic dcor and wooden beer kegs," said Fung, the hotel's general manager. "The festival is pretty much the same as what you would experience in Germany."
A record 12,000-plus visitors are expected to attend this year, up from 11,700 in 2008, he added.
Originally introduced in 1810 when Crown Prince Ludwig tied the knot with Princess Therese, Oktoberfest traditionally celebrates a specific brew of the season.
As such Shanghai residents will get the chance to indulge in Weihenstephan crystal wheat beer. Made at the oldest brewery in the world, north of Munich in Weihenstephaner Mountain, the internationally acclaimed wheat-based ale tastes faintly of bananas and tropical fruit.
With plenty of German beer, food, music, dancing and games - including a traditional drinking competition - the event has proven a hit with foreigners and local Chinese alike in recent years.
This time around the hotel is hoping to extend its reach beyond Shanghai by tapping into neighboring provinces like Zhejiang and Jiangsu. The 20th Shanghai Tourism Festival, which will overlap with Oktoberfest, is expected to help lure crowds.
Germany's Ralph Dreher can't wait to attend. He said the Shanghai event is so well dressed up he has no reason to fly home for the centuries-old festivities he and his countrymen rave about.