Now that late September is here, so is Oktoberfest. Huh? That’s right, Oktoberfest, the world’s biggest beer festival actually begins in September. The first Oktoberfest was held in 1812 to honor the marriage of Prince Ludwig. For 2018 the festival starts on September 22 and runs until October thru October 7. Below are several Marzen, the beer brewed for Octoberfest. Marzen is generally amber in color from roasted malt and has a slightly sweet flavor and typically a little more alcohol than other German lagers.
Devil’s Backbone Brewing, O’Fest, Lexington, VA, 5.9% abv, is crystal clear amber in the glass with a light tan head. Rich aromas of malty caramel fill the nose with faint hints of citrus and hops in the background. That malty caramel teases the palate with just enough sweetness to be pleasing and sticky. The Devil’s Backbone, O’Fest is a great example of what an Oktoberfest beer should be like. A huge Bavarian with spicy mustard is just the treated needed to down a few of these lagers.
Spaten Brewery, Munich, Germany, 5.9% abv. has a nice bright amber color with an off white head. Toasted malt and hints of dark bread and spice fill the nose. The palate reflects the nose. I’m sure the Spaten looses some of its charm crossing the Atlantic. I’d love to drink this in a big Oktoberfest tent in Munich, I’m sure if was fresh out of a big barrel it would be much tastier. The Spaten Oktoberfest isn’t bad; there are just better and fresher Oktoberfest lagers brewed closer to home.
Alewerks Brewing Co., Oktoberfest, Williamsburg, VA, 5.8% has the classic amber color with virtually no head when poured. This Marzen style of lager, the hallmark of Oktoberfest beers has the upfront malty characteristic nose that this style demands. There are some cinnamon and clove notes as well, very nice. The taste delivers as well. Rich sweet roasted malt with a full mouth feel really pleased the palate. The baking spices come in secondary and lend a nice drying touch to compliment the sweet malt. Alewerks has really stepped up the game with this brew. Some tasty sausages with sauerkraut would be the perfect pairing.
This is just a quick smattering of a tasting, but Oktoberfest beers should have the classic German Marzen style of that appealing amber color and sweet roasted malt. The German imports are fine, but local brewers with the ability to get their fresh lagers to store fronts without having a cross Atlantic journey are doing a great job brewing this style, keeping it true to form and taste and freshness.