It’s still technically summer with temperatures in the high 70s but daycare has requested I send a jacket in with my daughter and Oktoberfest started in Munich, so it’s time to drink a ton of Oktoberfests. Let’s get them in before we move on to fresh hop beers. These are the seasons that matter.
Oktoberfests are malt-forward which is not a particularly loved thing in the beer world today. The malts, often Vienna, used in Oktoberfest are richer and more interesting than your typical 2-row barley. They have depth and character. The style is usually a lager which means a nice clean flavor They’re stronger than average, though maybe not for an IPA drinker, and are still pretty crushable. In Munich they’re served in liters, which is almost three bottles of beer.
This Two Roads Ok2berfest (1.4 BAR, 102 Style+) I’m drinking right now is a little too crisp when it’s cold. There’s a little vegetal bite that’s not pleasant, but luckily dies away as it warms a little, then the malt dominates. You get this slightly tangy sweetness, but overall it’s pretty meh.
Hacker-Pschorr Oktoberfest (3.7 BAR, 106 Style+) is a classic, and one of the six remaining in Munich. I drank a bunch of them this past Sunday at the Ompahfest on Long Island, the after party for the NYC Steuben Parade. It goes down so easy, with a nice light caramel sweetness balanced with some earthy noble German hops.
It’s a great beer to drink with Bratwurst, or potato pancakes, or various other delicious German dishes. Though personally I pass on the smoked eel. The malty beer is a nice complement to the typically meat-forward dishes of Germany. One of my favorite meals when I visited was the saurbraten and Hofbrau Oktoberfest at the Hofbrau house, though I’m obligated to point out that I enjoy my mother-in-law’s saurbraten better.
My Untappd statistics say I’ve had 36 different Marzen style beers, which doesn’t count the ones I had in Munich when I didn’t have reception, with the Sam Adams leading the charge with 20. If you can’t get Augustiner’s because you don’t live in Germany, Hacker-Pschorr is a solid backup. If you’re looking for something that’s a little more American, I find both Boston Brewery and Brooklyn Brewery to make solid examples of the style.
Like any style there are some poor examples, but it’s a tasty one that is friendly to both food or drinking by itself and is worth having a few this time of year.
Michael can be found on Twitter and Untappd and loves his Löwenbräu lion hat. You can also email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.