Beer enjoys a specific and celebrated role in the kick off of the fall season. Any beer lover knows that fall brings many special seasonal styles that aren’t readily available during other times of the year. The most popular of these ‘fall styles’ is the Oktoberfest. This beer’s popularity can be traced back to October of 1810 when Prince Ludwig of Bavaria (crowned as King Ludwig I) married Princess Therese of Saxony-Hildurghausen. The wedding celebration was unique because the general public was invited to the celebration. It was extremely rare for nobility to associate, never mind surround, themselves with the public. The general public enthusiastically accepted the invitation when some 40,000 Bavarians attended the celebration in Munich. The specific location of the celebration was in an area of Munich now known as Theresienwiese, or, the Teresa Meadow. Every year since then, for about 200 years, the same celebration is held at the same location. The event in Munich is held every year for 16 days starting in mid-September to the first Sunday in October. This year’s event starts on September 19, 2015 at 12:00 noon. Not by accident, DuVig Brewing Company will release this year’s Oktoberfest at the same date and time.
That is probably more history about the party than is necessary, but the information helps to put the excitement about the event in perspective. Although the party/celebration was established in 1810, the association of the event with beer didn’t start to take shape until a few years later with the introduction of beer and food stands. The traditional Oktoberfest beer commonly served at the event is roughly 4.5% ABV (DuVig’s Oktoberfest is 4.5% ABV), is a copper lager with a very mild hops flavor and is frequently referred to as Bavarian Marzenbier. As with many beer styles, the exact origin of the style is lost in history, but the beer most likely was first brewed hundreds of years ago; long before refrigeration, and before the first Oktoberfestbier. Most beers were brewed during winter (summer brewing was almost impossible because of the damaging heat) and stored cold in cellars or caves to keep them cool and fresh. The beer to be saved was brewed to have a slightly higher alcohol content so that it would last longer and be able to resist spoiling. Soon, the last beer brewed in the late spring was referred to Marzen (March) and was consumed over the summer months while the beer in cold storage waited for fall. So, if you follow the logic, the Marzen and Oktoberfest styles are essentially the same beer, except for alcohol content. Since the Munich event is taking place in the late summer/early fall the beer being consumed is referred to as the Oktobertfestbier and has a slightly higher alcohol content than a Marzen.
DuVig Brewing Company takes all beer styles to heart. We follow traditional beer style guidelines and brew our beers as expected. The Oktoberfest we brew is no different. The beer contains all German malts (Pilsner, Munich, and Vienna), German hops (Hallertau), and we ferment with a traditional lager yeast at 55F. This produces a rich malty beer with a slight spicy backbone that comes from the Vienna malt and the hops. The flavors are caramel, bread and toasty grains with a mild and pleasant spice in the background. The beer finishes clean and dry with no lingering sweetness.