Beer record smashed at Munich fest's 200th birthday

Revellers slurped down a record number of steins at this year's Munich beer festival, organisers said Monday, as the 200th jubilee edition of the world-famous party drew to a close.

Some 6.4 million revellers from around the world downed seven million litres (1.6 million gallons) as they staggered through the cavernous beer tents, festival head Gabriele Weishaeupl told reporters.

To ease the passage of the beer, Oktoberfest visitors also consumed 117 oxen, 59 calves and thousands of chickens, Weishaeupl added.

However, the record number of visitors - 7.1 million in 1985 - remains unbeaten, despite the fair being extended by two days for the jubilee.

Less welcome was a significant rise in the number of people being clobbered around the head with litre glasses. Sixty-two people were assaulted compared to 43 last year.

Police arrested one French student suspected of smashing an Australian with a glass and one Munich man nearly killed a Canadian.

While this is the 200th anniversary of the beer fest, it is only the 177th edition, as the event was cancelled during two cholera outbreaks and World Wars I and II as well as economic and political crises.

The global financial crisis dampened the enthusiasm of revellers last year, with a disappointing 5.7 million visitors coming through the gates amid Germany's harshest post-war recession.

This year's edition of the fair was at least 11 revellers lighter than usual, as German football champions Bayern Munich were prevented from making their traditional visit after a dire start to the new Bundesliga season.

Coach Louis van Gaal ordered his players to a punitive training session instead of enjoying a few beers after a second successive defeat saw them slump to 12th in the Bundesliga table, one of their worst ever starts.

Among the 4,500 items lost amid the beer-swilling was a pug-dog, a rabbit, a tennis racket, a leather whip, a tuba, a hearing device and a pair of dentures.

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