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Fall brings a host of Oktoberfest-style brews, with many available in our market.
I like beer, which I guess is not really a great surprise. However, I’m not crazy about the swill chugged down through funnels during beach week, which is why I love this time of the year. Along with “cool” temps in the lower 90s, every fall brings a host of Oktoberfest styles from brewers large and small, with lots of different types of beers to try out.
Oktoberfest began in Munich in 1810 as part of the wedding celebration for King Ludwig I, and has famously evolved into an annual two-week German celebration held every September (not October, as the weather is better in September), known for its music, food and — of course — beer. Special beers are produced for the annual fest, which has led to the recent American tradition of putting out seasonal German-style brews each fall.
There have already been a number of Oktoberfest celebrations in our area — Pensacola had one last weekend, and Serda Brewing had a great event in mid-September to launch its fall style, a sweet and malty Märzen, complete with a stein-hoisting contest, a lederhosen and dirndl competition, and the beer mile race.
Märzens are one of the traditional German Oktoberfest styles — copper-hued, malty brews that date to 19th century Bavaria. For those of us who have become used to hoppy American craft beers, they are a nice change — smooth and not bitter at all.
In addition to Serda’s, Madison’s Blue Pants Brewery and Chicago’s Goose Island Beer Co. are putting out seasonal Märzens this year, both conveniently (although not very creatively) named Oktoberfest and available in cans (Blue Pants) and bottles (Goose Island) in our area. Although similar, neither is as sweet as the Serda, and the Blue Pants is the least distinctive of the three, with the Goose Island having a bit of a bitter finish and more heft than the other two.
A lighter but still traditionally German Oktoberfest style is the Festbier, which is hoppier and (usually) more golden in color than a Märzen — often a lager. Birmingham’s Trim Tab Brewing Co.’s Fest Beer is in this style, and is very good, but is only available at the tap room. Pennsylvania’s Victory Brewing Co. puts out a Festbier that is widely available in bottles; it’s touted as an “amber lager” and tastes like a Märzen with some hops. It is different, and good — worth a try if you see it in the grocery store.
If you missed some of the earlier celebrations that have already taken place, not to worry, as the Flora-Bama is hosting its own Oktoberfest festival on Sunday, Oct. 14, because nothing makes one think of a German autumn more than a white sandy beach and bikinis. Sponsored by Sam Adams (which has its own Oktoberfest style, also a Märzen, malty with sweet notes), there will be a polka band and a complimentary German buffet (beginning at 2 pm, while supplies last), along with a stein-hoisting contest.
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