Bob’s Beer Bits and Sips
Oktoberfest is far more than a beer style, and it’s hard to separate it from the festival it’s named for. The original Oktoberfest was a five-day wedding party that occurred in Munich in 1810 to honor the marriage of Crown Prince Ludwig and Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen, and it’s been commemorated ever since. While the name implies an October observance, celebrations last sixteen days beginning in mid-September and running into early October, and the festival doubles as a celebration of the harvest season. German representatives of the Märzen/Oktoberfest lager style tend to be moderately malty sweet, toasty, copper-hued, lightly hopped and are usually between 5 and 6% ABV. So, in honor of the season, and to save you the cost of a plane ticket, here is a rundown of three of the same beers being served at the Oktoberfest in Munich that you can pick up at your favorite craft beer store.
Hacker-Pschorr Original Oktoberfest
Hacker-Pschorr is one of Bavaria’s pre-eminent breweries, having been in existence since the fifteenth century, and one of the breweries commissioned to brew beer at the original Oktoberfest in 1810; the brewery claims its modern day version is similar to the brew first introduced at the first Oktoberfest. This traditional Marzen utilizes natural spring water, dark and light-colored malt from two-row Bavarian summer barley, a traditional Hacker-Pschorr centuries-old exclusive yeast strain and Noble Hallertau hops. Amber color, rich and clean toasted malt flavors, a sweet hop aroma and strong carbonation are descriptors of this brew and at 185 calories per serving, it’s nearly a light-calorie beer.
Founded in 1589, the Staatliches Hobräu brewery in Munich began as a court-owned brewery run by a duke. The brewery hosts the largest tent at the Oktoberfest festival in Munich and imports the same beer, from the same batches that are served at its tent, and you can also enjoy it on tap at the Hofbräuhaus in Las Vegas through the end of October. Although it’s very easy-drinking, with crisp flavor and a bit of sweetness, the hops are a bit more prevalent, the alcohol content is slightly higher 6.3% ABV and the appearance is a shade paler than the traditional beers of this style.
Paulaner Oktoberfest Märzen
The Paulaner brewery was founded by Pauline monks in 1634, and the monks named the brewery in honor of the patron saint of their own order, Saint Francis of Paula. Monks did the brewing until the early 19th century, after which operations were turned over to a non-religious brewmaster. Characteristic to the style, this 5.8% ABV Märzen is amber-hued with a full malt aroma and the taste offers a decidedly nutty light roast with an emphasis on malt sweetness that’s smooth and well balanced with subtle, but noticeable hop flavor.