Monday, September 11, 2017

Session 127 - Oktoberfest Round-up

The real thing is just a few days away now, so what better time to do the traditional round up of posts for the Session? The theme I asked folks to write about this month was 'Oktoberfest lagers'.

Jack over at Deep Beer wondered whether Oktoberfest lagers come out too soon, and offered a theory that the russets of many an Oktoberfest lager make it worth waiting for the leaves to turn before tucking in.

The Beer Nut managed to find a couple of examples of the style to write about, including an obligatory maß sized can of Eichbaum Festbier - and referred to me as 'His Royal Lageriness', which I rather like.

Other than being two of my favourite blogs to read, Alan at A Better Beer Blog, and the dynamic duo of Boak and Bailey both find themselves underserved locally when it comes to Oktoberfest lagers, and thus ponder the question what would festbier be in an English speaking context? I have to admit when I saw the themes for both posts I was hoping for a treatise on historical 'October beer'.

Closer to home. Tom Cizauskus waxes lyrical about the delights of this year's Sierra Nevada Oktoberfest in collaboration with Brauhaus Miltenberger. Stan compares the Cannstatter Volkfest in Stuttgart to Munich's Oktoberfest, noting that they happen around the same time, and that he has never actually been to Oktoberfest, which neither have I, and I am not overly vexed by that fact, and Jon at The Brew Site reveals Deschutes' hybrid autumnal IPA, Hopzeit.

Thanks again to everyone that took part, and if I failed to mention anyone's posts, just leave a message in the contents and I'll update this post.

UPDATE 1: a really fascinating post from Andreas Krennmair about what was served at the real Oktoberfest in the 19th century, including a surprising visitor from Bohemia.

UPDATE 2: as Thom poins out, I forgot to mention my own post, so here is a link.


  1. I blogged about which beers were sold at the Oktoberfest about 120 years ago, but I think I forgot to mention it anywhere other than on twitter.

  2. You failed to mention YOUR contribution!

  3. I didn't get round to posting anything but I think it's significant that Oktoberfestbier and Marzen have months in their name - these are seasonal beers, reflecting the fact that in Continental Europe brewing shut down for the summer and they brewed stronger beers in March to see them through the summer. Maritime Europe can keep brewing more or less through the year, thanks to cooler summers and eg saison/kveik yeast that work well enough for most of those summers.

    All hopped beers though face the problem that hops do not keep. Without drying they turn into compost within days if not hours. Even if they are dried - something that requires a certain degree of sophistication in both the initial drying and subsequent storage - then the alpha acids have a half-life of six months or so, and the beer isn't as good because you've driven off a lot of the volatile flavour compounds. But over the years industrial brewing pretty much wiped out the tradition of harvest beers. The prevalence of industrial brewing means that this happened before people were really recording these things, so I'm not sure there's much record of it. But they were revived as green-hop beers in stuttering fashion in the 90s and with gusto in the last 5 years.

    So green-hop beers would be my first nomination - and they're great.

    But if you're looking for an historical "style" that is a stronger seasonal beer designed to be drunk at a specific event, then the obvious one is Audit Ale. It was brewed as a stronger-than normal beer with the first of the new harvest by the colleges of Oxford and Cambridge universities, for drinking in the winter at the feast to celebrate the completion of their accounts. Completely different to a festbier - but the same principle.

  4. I did not know about this Session blog, but I did post about a beer I come across recently which is being used at Oktoberfest events around the UK.

    I also have a crate of Oktoberfest beers by Munich breweries but not cracked any open yet...

    I'll check out the other posts as the history is interesting indeed.


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