Sunday, September 25, 2011

Beer Style of the week; Oktoberfest-Marzen

Oktoberfest 201th Anniversary 1810-2011

The first Oktoberfest took place on October 18, 1810 in a meadow next to the town gates of Munich, Germany. The original celebration began during the marriage of The Crown Prince Ludwig of Bavaria (later Ludwig I.) to Princess Therese of Saxonia "Sachsen-Hildburghausen". The meadow was christened later in honor of the bride "Theresienwiese" (Meadow of Therese). There were horse races and a celebration of food, beer and life, which lasted five days…seven for some who were unable to find their way out. Beer was tapped in simple huts. This was a special, more potent brew known as a Marzen. It was brewed in March, aged in cool cellars (lagered) and tapped in the fall. While the king, his court and his attendants sat in their tents, the commoners were allowed to party in the open air. The fact that it rained the entire time was a testament to the quality and quantity of the beer. No amount of continuously mud-soaked pants could deter the thirsty revelers and dampen their spirits…so to speak. Today’s Oktoberfest still takes place in Munich on some of the same grounds. The horse racing no longer takes place, although there remains a small local produce and farming exhibition. The event now takes on a more carnival atmosphere with Ferris wheels and roller coasters and a little something for everyone, but there can be no doubt as to the main attraction.

Local brewers, Hacker-Pschorr, Spaten, and Paulaner produce some of the most authentic representations of the style, while Lowenbrau, Augustiner and Ayenger set up tents (Beer Halls) for their particular take on the Oktoberfest style. The Munich Oktoberfest now runs 16 days. In this time 6 million visitors consume 6 million liters of beer and 400,000 of sausages. It is the world’s largest annual public event.

This year the event runs from September 17 – October 3, 2011. If you can’t make it to Munich, you can still enjoy an Oktoberfest beer. And you don’t need to soak your lederhosen to enjoy your Marzen/Oktoberfest beer.

From the land of Origin

Hacker Pschorr Oktoberfest– Munich, Germany – 5.8% ABV

Deep Gold/Amber with orange hues in color with a sweet off-white lasting head and sticky, clingy lace. Lightly caramel sweet aroma with a hint of citrus. Slightly citrus, lightly tea-like and a touch of metallic hop bitterness. Rounded malt and hop balance. Honey and fresh fruit notes. Really velvety smooth. Rich, Bold, Tasty! IMHO, Hacker Pschorr one of the very best representations of the true Oktoberfest beers. Wow!

Spaten Oktoberfest – Spaten-Franziskaner Brau – Munich, Germany – 5.9% ABV

This is one fine example of an Oktoberfest. It pours an orange-hued deep amber with a fast fading beige head. A pleasant malty aroma and fresh bread dough are backed by a mild whiff of hops. The malt is fairly sweet and has a light doughy flavor and hint of toffee. Lime-like citrusy and a light taste of tea offer a mild ballast for the dominant malt quality. A faint flavor of candy apples is detected. The body is a bit buttery and velvety liquid. It’s hard not to take large gulps and then reach for another. In fact, that’s just what I’m going to do now!

Weihenstephaner – Freising, Germany – 5.8% ABV

From the World’s Oldest Brewery.

The color is a cloudy golden amber with a medium-sized snow-white head and lots of sticky and trailing lace.

The smell is certainly German OFest-like. Grassy malt, citrus fruit, pears, minty herbs and a hint of vodka.

Sweet honey maltiness supports a nice blend of citric and spicy hops. A little fresh bread, mellon and hint of mint round things out.

The body is slick, almost buttery and so rounded and smooth.

You really should buy at least two of these beauties because it goes down so easy and delightful.

New England O’Fests

Samuel Adams Octoberfest – Boston Beer Co. – 5.3% ABV

Served in a nonic tumbler.

It pours a deep amber color with a fast-fading off-white head along with some patchy and trailing lacing.

Smells of doughy malt and Milk Duds are backed by a smell of fruit cup an a hint of citrus zest.

The sweet and full malt body borders on a syrupy consistency. Tastes of mixed fruit, sweet malt and mild limes are all very in balance.

It's a nice O-Fest, yet a bit heavier than their German counterparts.

Thomas Hooker Octoberfest Lager – Bloomfield, Connecticut – 6.1% ABV

12 oz brown bottle.

Served in a heavy glass mug.

It pours a deep golden amber color with a fast-fading off-white head along with some patchy trailing lacing.

A strong whiff of wet sweet malt rises up at first pours and lasts for quite awhile. Smells of mixed fruit cup, citrus and cut field hay follow, as does a bit a alcohol fuminess.

This is as bold as an Octoberfest can be without rising into a stronger Lager style range like a Maibock, but I like it as it is.

Flavors of sweet caramel malt, tastes of pears, fresh bread, tea-like, and citrusy hops are finished with a light taste of golden rum.

The body is full and somewhat slick. The flavors come together and blend nicely as it warms.

Newport Storm Regenschauer Oktoberfest – Coastal Extreme Brewing – 5.3% ABV

12oz brown bottle. No freshness date. Bottle code 0.223 (?)

IMHO, this is one of Coastal's better offerings. It pours an Autumn-like honey/amber with orangey hues. The off-white head fades rather fast. A robust sweet malt aroma blends with a bit of hops and mild alcohol fuminess. The malty body is reminiscent of a Vienna/Oktoberfest blend - Velvety smooth, almost oily, and just a tad pasty. A mild citrus, ripe pear taste and light spiciness are in proper proportion to this malty brew. This will go well with Autumn Stew (Squash, apples, chicken stock, spices and a dash of maple syrup)

Others worth a try

Harpoon Octoberfest

Narragansett Fest

Next week; Pumpkins; They're not just for Halloween and pie anymore!

Cheers! And Prost!

Quote” “It takes beer to make thirst worthwhile.” – German Proverb

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