The kids are back in school, we’re all getting excited about college football, and the August heat makes us realize the summer is nearing to a close. In the beer world this also means Oktoberfest is nigh. For those of us in the land of the free and home of the brave this mostly means we’ll see more beer labeled “Oktoberfest” on the shelves and we may attend a festival or two – such as the Kingsport Oktoberfest on September 24th (Beer Snob Don will be in attendance and you should be too!) but this joyous time of the year is actually a big deal in Munich, Germany. This festival doesn’t just last a day or two – try 16-18 days beginning mid-to-late September into October and can trace it’s beginnings back to 1810 (thank you Wikipedia). That’s one doozy of a festival if I do say so myself – maybe we’re not doing festivals right!
However, to me, the beer is a bit special. I’m all about seasonals and special brews and will always grab a few Oktoberfest brews each season to enjoy. Last weekend during the tasting at The Market I realized just how little I knew about Oktoberfest beer. So I decided to educate myself a little before I get into the beer on deck this evening.
Oktoberfest beer is typically a Märzen style lager – this translates into “March” beer which has its roots in Bavaria and reflects when they’d brew it – March! Why March? Way back when (think 16th century) beer could only be brewed between September 29th and April 23rd. Why? Because fire was a big deal and during these colder months, the chances were a lot lower. Now, Märzen style beer is a lager, which we all know has to be brewed and stored at a lower temperature than ales. Also keep in mind that way back in the 16th century they couldn’t just throw the beer into the controlled freezer or fridge – they had to use nature to their advantage. So caves were used to store and brew beer and as things started to get warmer they’d take ice out of frozen waterways and toss ’em into the cave – the modern day equivalent of running down to Weigels! Now, a lot of these brews had a bit higher gravity so they’d keep over the warm summer months and everyone would pop ’em open in mid-to-late September at Oktoberfest – just before the brewing started again. Sounds like a clearing of the cellar party to me! There, now you learned something, on with the review!
Up on deck this evening is Ayinger’s Oktober Fest- Märzen that I picked up from our friends at The Westland Market and Beer Gallery – considered by many to be one of the best examples of an Oktoberfest beer. First of all, yes, that is a Homer Simpson glass and I am ashamed it’s taken me this long to get it’s picture on the site.
This beer pours a nice amber color with a two finger head. On the nose I get some sweetness – it may be caramel, definitely malts and some bread. On the tongue that bread taste continues with a touch of honey and maybe some fruit on the back end. The bottle clocks in at 1pt, 9 fluid oz and according to the interwebs, about 5.8% ABV.
Final snobs: This is an EASY beer to drink and I can see why so many people pointed me to this as one of the best examples. Don’t think you’ll be disappointed!