We are just about midway through the 200+ year old celebration of all things Bavarian— I’m talking about Oktoberfest! And while the current global situation has caused the cancellation of the festival in Munich and basically all of it’s worldwide mini-events, brewers still showed up to work to craft the delicious lagers we love every year. It’s heartbreaking that we won’t be able to visit our favorite breweries to hear live music, share pints, eat enormous soft pretzels, and participate in stein holding competitions…but if you’re still jonesing for some fest vibes, we have some ideas on how you can responsibly celebrate!
First, some background info. What is Oktoberfest? Oktoberfest first began as a wedding celebration for Bavaria’s Crown Prince Ludwig and Princess Therese of Saxony-Hildburghausen in 1810. The wedding reception was unlike any other and included a days-long bout of drinking and feasting. The celebration became an annual event.
But these days Oktoberfest is arguably more known for the annually-released specialty beers, “Festbier”, than it is for a centuries-old wedding. So, what is a festbier? The category cannot be defined as rigidly as it can for an IPA or a Stout, but there are some parameters that will offer some insight. First and foremost, festbiers are invariably lagers. Traditionally, they are made according the the German Purity Laws of brewing, which is a document of rules that govern what can be called an Oktoberfest Beer. Among the rules are the use of German water, lager yeasts, and being brewed within the Munich city limits. Obviously, a ton of brewers break this rule and call their beer “Oktoberfest” regardless of where it is brewed, but the concept of the beer being a lager still seems to be the common denominator. These days, the best way to differentiate the styles of festbier is where it is brewed. German breweries tend to stay in line with the original beer of 1810— a very pale, yellow beer that’s super light and crisp and sort of built to drink all day and night at a festival. The American-brewed counterparts tend to be more of a Marzen style; darker in color with hues of amber, slightly sweeter malt, with a touch more body than the super-pale lagers brewed in Germany. Both beers, however, are still designed for drinkability and versatile food pairing.
So, how can you celebrate!? We have a wide array in both of our stores of traditional German festbiers and American Craft selections. We suggest buying a few so you can taste through and experience the different interpretations of this historical brew. But if you really want to have fun— get creative! Along with the beer, why not buy (or even better, make) some soft pretzels? Call your friends on Zoom and see who can hold a pint the longest (that’s a real game, see rules here)! Dust off your lederhosen and check out the Oktoberfest playlist on Spotify (spoiler alert: it’s a lot of oom-pah-pah)!
Below are the current festbiers in stock, feel free to order online, give us a call, or come by (must wear a mask to enter store)!