Oktober Too Soon

THE SESSION #127— BEER BLOGGING FRIDAY The Session, a.k.a. Beer Blogging Friday, is an opportunity once a month for beer bloggers from around the world to get together and write from their own unique perspective on a single topic. Each month, a different beer blogger hosts the Session, chooses a topic and creates a round-up listing all of the participants, along with a short pithy critique of each entry. 

This month's theme is Oktoberfest Beers and is hosted by Alistair Reece at Fuggled. You can read other muses from The Session on Fuffled website post.

“Oktoberfest, in September?!” I hear you exclaim, but as I am sure you know, Oktoberfest begins every year in the middle of September, this year on the 16th, and finishes in the eponymous month. So what better way to start the month it all begins in Bavaria than to hunt down a load of beers labelled as ‘Oktoberfest’ or ‘Festbier’, or in some cases both, and have a little mix and match tasting session?
— Alistair Reece at Fuggled

Oktober Too Soon


I hear it every year, "What, Oktoberfest beers in August? It's too soon!" And, there are the same comments regarding pumpkin beers, too. And I would agree, I feel there are seasons for some things and if someone pushes that something out of the expected comfort zone, well, people get uncomfortable. And then there is the other school, as Mae West proclaimed, "Too much of a good thing can be wonderful."

Too much of a good thing can be wonderful.
— Mae West

Oktoberfest beer was first noticed on August 8, it was Spaten Oktoberfest. In not too recent past they were arriving on store shelves as early as mid-July. And so they continue to roll into the bottle shops. I've noticed, there are several reactions. Some jump on with beery glee. They love the beer style — me too — and disregard the name and the association with a season so that they can simply enjoy the beer. Others will hesitate, awaiting some magical date — maybe October 1 — in which they have determined it is okay to bring a six-pack home or maybe a pint at the pub. Then there are others simply have little or no interest, simply to get the favorite IPA.

Of course, there are always favorites. Spaten is one but Ayinger Festbier is perhaps the best in my opinion.

Märzen / Oktoberfest

Oktoberfest may be known as a historical event that is still celebrated in Munich Germany, but it is also a beer style otherwise known as Märzen. Beer Advocate offers a brief description of this beer's history and style.

Before refrigeration, it was nearly impossible to brew beer in the summer due to the hot weather and bacterial infections. Brewing ended with the coming of spring and began again in the fall. Most were brewed in March (Märzen). These brews were kept in cold storage over the spring and summer months or brewed at a higher gravity, so they’'d keep. Märzenbier is full-bodied, rich, toasty, typically dark copper in color with a medium to high alcohol content.

The common Munich Oktoberfest beer served at Wies'n (the location at which Munich celebrates its Oktoberfest) contains roughly 5.0-6.0% alcohol by volume, is dark/copper in color, has a mild hop profile and is typically labeled as a Bavarian Märzenbier in style.

Average alcohol by volume (abv) range: 4.0-7.0%  

All About Beer Magazine - Volume 29, Issue 5 - November 1, 2008, offers a more complete description of the beer style for those interested in getting deeper.

The original Oktoberfest celebrated the marriage of Crown Prince Ludwig I of Bavaria and Princess Therese of Saxony-Hildburghausen. The event occurred on October 12, 1810 and all residents of Munich were invited to the countryside to join the gala. The festivities last for five days, and ended with a horse race.
— All About Beer — 2008 Nov 1

Final Thoughts


So, in which camp am I? I certainly love the Märzen beer style and will eventually get my seasonal fill. But for now, I'm going to wait until the season turns a bit cooler before moving to the Oktoberfest. Call it tradition or a psychological mindset, I'm not sure. Maybe it's that I still have summer beer I need to work through. Perhaps the color and the leaves have to turn that russet and ruby shades to match the color of the beer. Hey, it's a theory.

One thing is for sure, my family and friends will travel to our favorite Bavarian restaurant — Old Stein Inn near Annapolis MD —  for fine food, Silvia serenading us with her accordion and some of my favorite Oktoberfest beers.