BY: Curtis Stockwell, The Beer Growler
The summer is drawing to a close and with that comes the changing of the leaves and most importantly, the changing of beers! We will be transitioning from lighter more refreshing beers that are perfect for the warmer weather to beers that are more hearty and filling – ones more conducive to cooler temperatures.
Before we make the full transition to heavy beers such as stouts and porters, we have to cross the threshold of one of the most well-known and celebrated styles of beer in the world, Märzen, or better known as Oktoberfest! ￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼When one hears the term Oktoberfest, images of men and women singing and dancing dressed in lederhosen, populating beer halls, all while drinking large quantities of beer, comes to mind. While this is a popular scene in Munich for 16 days at the end of September leading up to the first Sunday in October, it did not start out this way.
Oktoberfest, as we know it today, was established in October of 1810 by Prince Ludwig of Bavaria (King Ludwig I) in celebration of his marriage to Princess Therese of Saxony-Hildburghausen. Unlike most noble celebrations of the time, the general public was invited to share in the festivities and roughly 40,000 Bavarians were in attendance in Munich on what is now called Theresienwiese (the Teresa Meadow). The festivities are still held in the same location today.
The event was initially built around its horse race and the state agriculture show. The agriculture show still goes on today, but 1960 marked the last year of the horse race. Food and beer stands were introduced to the show in 1818, which is when most believe the strong association of beer during Oktoberfest came to light. There are only six breweries in Munich that are designated Oktoberfest beers and are served at the festival and they include: Augustiner-Bräu, Hacker-Pschorr-Bräu, Löwenbräu, Paulaner-Bräu, Spatenbräu, and finally Staatliches Hofbräu- München.
There are a ton of breweries that make Oktoberfest-style beers, but if you want to try some original German offerings, I recommend the Spaten, ￼￼￼￼Paulaner, Ayinger, or the Hacker- Pschorr. These are available in Georgia and are typically pretty easy to get your hands on. If I had to pick a favorite out of these, I would have to go with the Ayinger Oktober Fest- Märzen because it is medium bodied, starts off a little sweet and has a light crisp finish.
There are many domestic breweries that replicate the Märzen style of beer, and in my experience these are pretty tasty as well. Look for Heavy Seas Märzen or Highland Clawhammer and give them a try! As with all styles of beers, you are going to have different tastes, so go out there and find the one that suits you best! Prost!!!
What’s Brewing appears exclusively in every issue of Suwanee Magazine. Contact Curtis with all your beer-related questions at: email@example.com.