Oktoberfest Munich

September 22, 2018, is the official kick-off for the world-famous Oktoberfest in Munich. It will last for two weeks and end on October 7. It’s known around the world as a place to drink copious amounts of beer and celebrate in traditional garb with various drinking competitions.

The story behind Oktoberfest is what some may imagine is the genesis of this great German tradition. As it goes, the future King of Bavaria, Crown Prince Ludwig, was to wed Therese of Sassonia-Hildburghausen on October 12, 1810. They held a large public event in a meadow near the gates of Munich to celebrate the occasion.

People enjoyed the event so much it turned into the annual Oktoberfest tradition that we know and love. To this day, the event is still held in the very same meadow, called Theresienwiese, which translates to “Therese’s Meadow” and, in the local dialect, the meadow and the festival are known as Wies’n.

As you may have surmised, in line with our last article and in German style, every beer that is served at Oktoberfest has to conform to the Reinheitsgebot and has to be brewed in the city of Munich.

During this event, vast quantities of beer are consumed. However, most of the beer served is actually a blond lager as opposed to the Oktoberfest beer we are starting to see become seasonally available everywhere. The Oktoberfest beer itself is also called a Marzenbier or “march beer.”

Originally, it was a very broad term used to describe any beer brewed in March and stored in caves to keep cool for consumption throughout the summer.

At the end of the summer, the barrels would be emptied (people would get together and drink it all) for the coming brewing season.

Today, Marzen or Oktoberfest beer symbolically capture that shift of climate from warm summer evenings to the cool crisp of Fall. The beer should capture that crispness along with the color of Fall, a beautiful copper-orange from the Vienna and Munich malts used to brew it.

An Oktoberfest should taste and smell roasty with subdued German Noble hops, letting the malt shine through. Overall, this beer should be crisp, malty, and very refreshing, made to drink on the cool crisp evenings that lead into the Fall season.

One of my favorite examples of the style is one of Sierra Nevada’s yearly collaborations. Last year, they collaborated with Brauhaus Miltenberger to make an Oktoberfest. This year, they worked with Weihenstephaner, which is purportedly the oldest brewery in the world, founded 1040. It is located in Freising, Bavaria, on the former site of the Weihenstephan Abbey and they still brew according to the Reinheitsgebot.

The Oktoberfest collaboration this year was one of two. The first being a German Hefeweizen brewed at Weihenstephaner Brewery in Freising. This was a very important and special brew because it is the first time that Weihenstephaner has invited an outside brewery in to brew with them.

You’ll find many Oktoberfest beers on the market, both local and international. They will range in color and taste from relatively light to bold, roasty, and deep copper. Some will be sweeter than others, depending on the amount of Vienna or Munich malt use. Vienna typically lends a spicier, biscuity aroma and flavor, while Munich malt will impart more of a graininess to the beer.

If you’re looking for a local event featuring some of the best brewers in Florida, who often happen to be home-brewers, on October 20th from 5 – 8 pm, Scotty’s Bierworks is hosting “A Tour of Germany.”

The Leftcoast brewers, a local homebrew club, will be pouring German-inspired beers. Some styles that may be available are Festbier, Oktoberfest, Berliner Weisse, Hefeweizen, Kolsch, and a Rauchbier.