September 22, 2017. It’s officially fall, and the tall trees tease the changing leaves from their tired green heads. But all good beer lovers know that the true season is Oktoberfest.
Every Jewel Tea Company liquor department is forested with square, squat stacks of OktoberCraftBiers, each pile festooned with blue and white plastic flags. Quickens my heart.
Everyone Wants Oktober-dough.
There’s no better way to carry this sleigh–Oktoberfest sells beer. Even people who are cold towards beer consider snatching up this invite to the bacchanal, the fall frolic that is Oktoberfest.
BL say, “Happiness is a good excuse.” And there is no better pistol shot to start the American version of this race than OKTBRFST writ large on a can or bottle.
Ale Asylum Oktillion, Ballast Point Dead Ringer, Bells Brewery Octoberfest Beer, Boulder Beer Dragonhosen Imperial Oktoberfest, Central Waters Octoberfest Lager , Firestone Walker Oaktoberfest, Fort Collins Brewery Oktoberfest, Great Divide Brewing Co. Hoss Oktoberfest Lager, Heavy Seas Treasure Fest, Lakefront Brewery Oktoberfest Lager, Odell Oktoberfest, Point Beer Oktoberfest, Revolution Brewing OKtoberfest, Schlafly Oktoberfest, Shiner Oktoberfest, Short’s Noble Chaos, Sierra Nevada Oktoberfest, Summit Oktoberfest, Surly Brewing SurlyFest, Two Brothers Brewing Co. Atom Smasher, Uinta Fest Helles, Upland Brewing Co. Oktoberfest, Victory Festbier, Wiseacre Oktoberfest: Gemutlichkeit, to name…and I mean it…just a few.
Wedding History To Beer.
Oktoberfest is the world’s largest Volksfest.
Say what? Say “ein Fest für die Bevölkerung einer Stadt oder Gemeinde, bei dem man sich in einem Bierzelt und an zahlreichen Unterhaltungsbetrieben vergnügen kann”.
The short version…carnival with beer.
It’s held each year in Munich, Bavaria, Germany, (sounds like a road-trip w/ HopKaiser) offering the brew-worthy 16+ days of Märzen madness, running from mid-ish September to the first weekend in October.
The why: This mug, Kronprinz Ludwig (Future King Ludwig I) married this dame, Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen on 12 October 1810. Munich’s groundlings were invited to join in the celebration, which were held on the fields in front of the city gates. The fields were…and are…named Theresienwiese (“Theresa’s Meadow”) in honor of the bride, although some of the local yokels have chopped it down to the “Wiesn”. Again, for short.
Here’s A Surprise.
During the event, large quantities of Oktoberfest Beer are consumed. Or as the latest White House Tweet might say, “Huge Amounts”. 7.7 million litres amounts. Only beer conforming to the Reinheitsgebot–meaning “purity order” (that doesn’t sound good)–and brewed within Munich, can be served at the Munich Oktoberfest. Here’s yet another surprise–beers meeting these criteria are called…wait for it…Oktoberfest Beer.
Which gets you a Bavarian maiden toting a frosty stein of Augustiner-Bräu, Hacker-Pschorr-Bräu, Löwenbräu, Paulaner, Spatenbräu, or Staatliches Hofbräu-München version of Oktoberfest Bier.
“We Märzens, We Märzen, Baby.” – Dim
Traditionally Oktoberfestbiers were lagers, clocking in around 5.5 to 6 ABV.–which were brewed in March and allowed to ferment during the summer months, and called Märzen or Märzenbier (German: March or March beer). Originally Märzens were dark lagers, but the color of Märzen Oktoberfestbier has been getting lighter since the late 20th century, with the predominance of Oktoberfest beers brewed in Munich since 1990 a shinning golden in color. Some of those sneaky Munich brewers still produce darker versions, primarily to export to “those dumb Americans”…I mean the good old US of A.
So if your thinking Märzen, think Bavaria, lager, medium to full body, malt nose and tongue, clean and bright, coming from the fan of Pantone-Color Chips–from golden through amber to dark brown.
Men From Märzen Come From Everywhere.
Many cities around the world get their German on, and hold Oktoberfest celebrations in the sorta, kinda, original Munich style. Beer. Pretzels. Brats. Rock and Roll. And they run out of brats. But the beer makes up for it all.
Ayinger Oktober Fest-Märzen
A classic German märzen. Ayinger is a perennial favorite and a beer that plenty of craft beer’s fall weather friends think of as THE Oktoberfestbier. A bit different than other German Märzens, it’s a touch darker, and sports a viscous mouthfeel that most of the beers in this style don’t have. Smooth, toasty malt with a noticeable touch of the hops for bitterness to tame the malty heart. Nothing rough about this customer–it’s a German gentleman–one you can bump into at Guthries on Addison.
Samuel Adams Octoberfest
Sam Adams Octoberfest is a regular, or if you prefer, a seasonal. Straightforward, with every ounce of its caramel malt character, toasted breadiness and a touch of berry-like fruitiness–and all underwhelming, and indifferent. Had a short one and I didn’t finish it. It tasted thin. But as the man pointed out, you can probably grab a sixer at your corner gas station.
Heilemans Old Style Oktoberfest
The top was popped, and the cans contents distributed amongst the poor in french bistro glasses. Displaying a clear & bright, amber color, a frothy layer of off white head foam, with a curtain of foamy spray as lacing–give me a brake, it’s Old Style. But a small G. Heileman surprise–no surprise in the malt toastiness on the sniffer, but the malt in the mouth, offered a touch of maple syrup. The taste was recongnizable as a märzen, medium bodied, decent carbonation, and kinda smooth. So if your kicking it in a place that sells Swisher Sweets–you could do worse.
Great Lakes Brewing Co. Oktoberfest
Proclaimed the Märzen of the Midwest. Great Lakes–who, them which knowz me knowz I lovez ’em–goes for big flavors in their shot at the title–but this Märzen gets a bit muddy in the going. The goodies go down smoothly enough–toasty peasant bread, a pinky-load of noble hop flowers, some redish fruitiness results in a solid German-American offering. This märzen is a little juiced with the 6.5 ABV. Hops enough to come from Great Lakes. Decent balance. It’s a really solid, yet slightly cloudy beer–like an over stuffed pillow with little room to breath. What most American Craft Kids expect when they read “Oktoberfestbier”.
Sierra Nevada Oktoberfest
Every year a fun game of discovery. The “collaboration with whom?” game. Each year, Sierra Nevada partners with a different German brewer to wrestle with the roots of Germany’s Oktoberfest beers. This year, they collaborating with Germany’s Brauhaus Faust in Miltenberg, whose take on this classic is on SN’s yummy list, as well as mine. And it’s on sale for $8.99 at Jewel. What?
Check out this carnival beer with deep locust leave’s golden color, rich malty, bready, grain-complexity, all balanced with old school German-grown whole-cone hops. Sierra Nevada does a good job tripping the Polka Floor Fantastic with it’s German partners, so check out this Germany-German-style Märzen—from California yet.
Alarmist Brewing Fake News
7.8% ABV 53 IBU
One last Okt-entry. True, we’ve covered Fake News on other posts. But as I empty this tulip, I am put in mind of a Märzen. Keep in mind, this is an American version of a Belgium Strong Ale–with German Pilsner and Vienna Malts cooked with a heapin’ helpin’ of American Chinook hops, produces a beer that would not be out of place at an Oktober-feast. It’s those dang Viennese Malts that paint this glass a rich coppery mahogany goldeny color and add that malt-forward-iness. So check out Fake News for a real fall treat.
Oktoberfest Only Seems Like It Goes On Forever.
But quick as a whistle, this window, or door, or refrigerated case will close. So hitch-up your lederhosen and don your alpine hat, stream Heino’s Alte Kameraden–and find yourself some FEST with Capt’ Von Trapp.