It is time for one of the largest and most entertaining drinking parties known to man. That's right! It is time for Oktoberfest! Despite its name, you might be surprised to know that Oktoberfest traditionally begins in the third weekend in September and ends the first Sunday of October. The original Oktoberfest took place in 1810 to celebrate the royal wedding between Crown Prince Ludwig and Princess Therese of Saxony-Hildburghausen. The first Oktoberfests were centered upon horse races. Beer did not become a central focus until the later in the 19th century. In 2012 more than 6.9 million liters of beer were served during the 16 day festival to the more than 6 million people from around the world who attended the event. Oktoberfest is now considered to be the largest festival in the world! Traditionally, Oktoberfestbiers were the lagers of around 5.5 to 6 ABV named "Marzen." "Marzen" is brewed in March and allowed to ferment slowly during the summer months. The end product is a full-bodied, malty flavored, lightly hopped beer with a copper-orange hue that is reminiscent of the colors of fall. This beer is at once rich and dense and satisfies those beer-loving taste buds. This is why Oktoberfest is this week's Beer Style of the Week!
First up, the guidelines:
Here are the stylistic guidelines from the Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP) 2008 Style
3B. Oktoberfest/MarzenAroma: Rich German malt aroma (of Vienna and/or Munich malt). A light to moderate toasted malt aroma is often present. Clean lager aroma with no fruity esters or diacetyl. No hop aroma. Caramel aroma is inappropriate.
Appearance: Dark gold to deep orange-red color. Bright clarity, with solid, off-white, foam stand.
Flavor: Initial malty sweetness, but finish is moderately dry. Distinctive and complex maltiness often includes a toasted aspect. Hop bitterness is moderate, and noble hop flavor is low to none. Balance is toward malt, though the finish is not sweet. Noticeable caramel or roasted flavors are inappropriate. Clean lager character with no diacetyl or fruity esters.
Mouthfeel: Medium body, with a creamy texture and medium carbonation. Smooth. Fully fermented, without a cloying finish.
Overall Impression: Smooth, clean, and rather rich, with a depth of malt character. This is one of the classic malty styles, with a maltiness that is often described as soft, complex, and elegant but never cloying.
History: Origin is credited to Gabriel Sedlmayr, based on an adaptation of the Vienna style developed by Anton Dreher around 1840, shortly after lager yeast was first isolated. Typically brewed in the spring, signaling the end of the traditional brewing season and stored in cold
caves or cellars during the warm summer months. Served in autumn amidst traditional celebrations.
Comments: Domestic German versions tend to be golden, like a strong Pils-dominated Helles. Export German versions are typically orange-amber in color, and have a distinctive toasty malt character. German beer tax law limits the OG of the style at 14 degrees Plato since it is a vollbier, although American versions can be stronger. "Fest" type beers are special occasion beers that are usually stronger than their everyday counterparts.
Ingredients: Grist varies, although German Vienna malt is often the backbone of the grain bill, with some Munich malt, Pils malt, and possibly some crystal malt. All malt should derive from the finest quality two-row barley. Continental hops, especially noble varieties, are most authentic. Somewhat alkaline water (up to 300 PPM), with significant carbonate content is welcome. A decoction mash can help develop the rich malt profile.
OG: 1.050 - 1.057
IBUs: 20 - 28
FG: 1.012 - 1.016
SRM: 7 - 14
ABV: 4.8 - 5.7%
Commercial Examples: Paulaner Oktoberfest, Ayinger Oktoberfest-Marzen, Hacker-Pschorr Original Oktoberfest, Hofbrau Oktoberfest, Victory Festbier, Great Lakes Oktoberfest, Spaten Oktoberfest, Capital Oktoberfest, Gordon Biersch Marzen, Goose Island Oktoberfest, Samuel Adams Oktoberfest (a bit unusual in its late hopping)
Here are the stylistic guidelines from the 2012 Great American Beer Festival.
32. Dortmunder or German-Style Oktoberfest
B. Subcategory: German-Style Oktoberfest/Wiesen
Today's Oktoberfest beers are characterized by a medium body and light, golden color. Sweet maltiness is mild with an equalizing balance of clean, hop bitterness. Hop aroma and flavor should be low but notable. Ale-like fruity esters should not be perceived. Diacetyl and chill
haze should not be perceived. Similar or equal to Dortmunder/European-Style Export
Original Gravity (Plato): 1.048-1.056 (12-14 Plato) Apparent Extract/Final Gravity (Plato): 1.010-1.014 (2.5-3.5 Plato) Alcohol by Weight (Volume): 4-4.8% (5-6%)
Bitterness (IBU): 23-29 Color SRM (EBC): 3-5 (6-10 EBC)
Now some of my tidbits of information, opinion, and recent tastings. This is my favorite style of beer. Nothing else compares. I eagerly await Oktoberfest every year. I don't know if it is because of my German heritage, but to me, this beer style is the king of all beers. I would rather drink a mediocre Oktoberfest than anything else out there. I brew this beer twice a year if I can. Once in the spring to lager all summer for drinking in the fall and again in late fall for drinking during March. Drink Oktoberfest from a one-liter glass mug or Mas. Well worth every golden amber drop!
I will try any Oktoberfest that I can find. I have had most of the imports on the list above. Also have had innumerable Oktoberfest beers at many breweries, brewpubs, tasting rooms, etc. around the country. My personal favorites are the ones served at Dry Dock Brewing and Prost Brewing in the Denver metro area, Staghorn from New Glarus Brewing in Wisconsin, Paulaner Oktoberfest and sometimes Sam Adams Oktoberfest (depends on the year, sometimes good, sometimes too hoppy). Last year I ended up drinking 3 and a half liters of Oktoberfest at Dry Dock Brewing Company's Docktoberfest celebration over a period of 8 hours. That much beer at 7% alcohol without much food made for a very rough weekend! But it was worth every drop. I will be at Dry Dock Brewing next Saturday (September 28) to once again partake in their Oktoberfest celebration. I will be entering two of my Oktoberfest beers into competition and having a grand time! If you happen to be in the area, I'll be drinking there!
On to NFL news:
We are two full weeks into the NFL season (plus one game into week three). Here are some of my observations:
The Patriots have no chemistry. While they have won their games, it is taking Tom Brady a very long time to develop chemistry with his new young wide receivers.
The Chiefs are 3-0. WTF! I had them finishing near the bottom of the AFC West. Only time will tell if this team is for real or if they have just gotten lucky with the teams they have played so far.
The Bears are undefeated. The Bears still suck!
Trent Richardson was traded to the Colts. I guess the Browns have already thrown in the towel. But with 10 draft picks in the first four rounds of next year's draft maybe they will finally be able to rebuild the once storied franchise.
The Seahawks look scary good. Right now they are my odds on favorite to win the Super Bowl.
I called it about Denver Broncos offensive lineman Ryan Clady. Get paid the big contract just before the season and put on IR after game 2. That will not help keep Peyton Manning upright and healthy all year. The Broncos have looked good but they need to get more balance in the run game.
The Packers finally had a 100-yard rusher. First time in 45 games (39 if you include playoffs). Still, a lack of balance on the offensive side of the ball will keep defenses playing more defensive backs. Also, the Packers defensive secondary is giving up huge numbers to wide receivers.
Another shootout year for the Pack to win games?
Ndamakong Suh is one of the dirtiest players of all time. Cheap shot after cheap shot after cheap shot. Anyone want to put an over/under bet onto how many games into the season before he is suspended? My bet is he is suspended at least once before the Thanksgiving Day showdown with the Packers.
Not going to make any picks for games. I've gotten my head kicked in the first two weeks of the season. I'm just going to sit back, watch the games and drink as much Oktoberfest beer as my liver, kidneys, and wife will let me!
Just my opinion...