Before the advent of modern brewing, the traditional German brewing season would finish in March just as the temperatures got high enough to create uncertainty in the brewing process. Because these beers (known as Märzenbier) would be cellared through the summer, they needed to be heartier brews that could hold up until the next brewing season began in September. These malty, robust lagers with their deep copper color and higher alcohol content are traditionally enjoyed during Oktoberfest in the final month before the new brews arrive.
Today, Oktoberfest is a massive party with 6 million people enjoying 7 million liters of beer over the span of 16 days. Despite the lure of such a gathering, we prefer to stay States-side and enjoy our beer buyer Eric’s selection of special seasonal beers available in our stores from September through October.
Ayinger Oktober Fest-Märzen: Produced by Ayinger, a highly-decorated and well-respected brewery in the countryside outside of Munich. Hoppier and nuttier than other examples of Märzenbier, the Ayinger undergoes a long, careful maturation that yields a perfect balance of malty richness and hoppy spice. Pair with Cato Corner’s Hooligan (a rich, washed-rind cheese) or Julie’s brandied apple sausage.
Weihenstephaner Fest Bier: From one of the oldest breweries in the world, operating since the Benedictine Monks built their monastery atop Weihenstephan Hill in Freising, Germany almost 1,000 years ago. Today, it is half brewery, half brewing school, where the combination of modern science and tradition makes for excellent beer. Their Fest beer is brewed only for the Festival season. Full bodied and bready with a surprisingly bright golden color given its big flavor. Pair with Ste.-Maure Belgique or Julie’s duck pâté.
Berkshire Brewing Oktoberfest Lager: A great domestic brew in the traditional Märzen style – complex and strong, but also smooth and crisp. It is made with all German hops and yeast and is lagered four months prior to release. Perhaps the best domestic Oktoberfest. The heft of this beer makes us think this is what beer tasted like in Munich 200 years ago. Pair with Cobb Hill’s Ascutney Mountain cheese or thinly sliced Coppa from Salumeria Biellese.