It’s Oktoberfest time again, and that saves me the trouble of having to think up an orginal topic. Once again we can discuss one of the world’s greatest beer styles, born from the world’s best beer festival.
“Oktoberfest beer makes me feel like I’m in Munich,” says Bruce Lish, Head Brewer for Custom Brewcrafters. “It’s robust and hearty, and it’s a great way to embrace the cooler weather.”
Lish should know, he brewed dozens of Oktoberfest beers over the years, but he’s also the first to admit that the best examples still come from Munich, Germany.
The classic brewers of Munich, Spaten, Löwenbrau, Augustiner, Paulaner, Hacker-Pschorr and Hofbräu, each sponsor ginormous, 10,000 seat tents at the big Oktoberfest. Their beers are the only ones allowed on the festival grounds, much to the consternation of rival breweries throughout southern Germany.
The typical Munich Oktoberfest is golden to light hazelnut in color, with the essence of rye bread in the nose and a substantial mouthfeel. The flavor is all malt; Munich brewers hop their Oktoberfests the way good bartenders add vermouth to your dry martini. So you get a sweet, chewy beer that somehow remains refreshingly quenching and goes great with big lumps of pork. Goes to show what a thousand years of brewing tradition will do.
While the Munich Brewers still rule the Oktoberfest roost, American examples get better every year. Sam Adams absolutely crushes the style, Brooklyn Brewery too. Sly Fox Brewing, from Downingtown, Pennsylvania, marries a hefty dose of American hops that augment the sweetness with a bitter bouquet, then they shove it in a can for an easy tailgating treat. Locally, Dundee Oktoberfest carries on the tradition every autumn.
German or American, Oktoberfest beers are a delicious way to take the sting out of the end of summer. If you drink enough of them, for a couple hours, you may forget that winter will be here before you know it.
In other beers:
It’s beer festival season in Rochester! On Friday, September 21, the annual Flour City Brewers’ Fest hits Frontier Field. The festival, put on by the Rohrbach Brewing Company, brings in dozens of brewers from Rochester and around the country. My advice: get there early.
Mark owns a laptop and likes beer. For more on beer, check out the beercraft blog, updated regularly, at beercraft.wordpress.com. Find him on Twitter @beercraft. Send your questions, suggestions, or comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.