Brief History: The origin is credited to Gabriel Sedlmayr and is based on an adaptation of the Vienna style developed in 1840 by Anton Dreher. Typically, this beer is brewed in the spring, signaling the end of the traditional brewing season and was historically stored in cold caves or cellars during the warm summer months. Oktoberfest/Märzen beers are served in autumn amidst the traditional celebrations.
Standard Characteristics: Oktoberfest beers are very smooth, clean, and tend to be rich with a lot of depth in the malt character. This is a true classic in the malty style of beer category, with a malt profile that is often labeled as soft, complex, and sophisticated but never cloying.
Nose: The aroma is of rich German malt, typically Vienna or Munich malt. A light to moderate toasted malt aroma is often present. There is always a very clean lager aroma present as well with very little to no hop aroma.
Body: The body is medium to full with a creamy texture and medium carbonation. The beer is generally described as smooth and does not have a sticky finish.
Taste: The initial taste is of malty sweetness with a moderately dry finish. The complex maltiness often includes the toasted malt aspect. The hop bitterness is moderate, typically being of the noble hop variety. The balance of the beer tends to be towards the malty spectrum, though the finish is not often sweet. The taste is of a very clean and refreshing lager.
Food Pairing: Oktoberfest styles go perfectly with a wide amount of dishes, specifically those with meat. At the Oktoberfest in Germany, huge truckloads of pork, chicken, and fish are served up, and the style complements all the dishes perfectly. Grilled vegetables also make for a great pairing, accentuating the beer’s sweetness. Sausages, of course, make for a great pairing as well, even the spiciest of them, and do not be afraid of adding some creamy mustard on the side. A less obvious pairing is with seafood, especially battered and fried seafood, fish and chips, shrimp, and crab cakes – all make for great partners with Märzens.
Recommendations: The Oktoberfest style is an exceptionally approachable style by everyone. The biggest problem with it is that there is a large abundance of breweries producing them right now and not all are truly worth trying. This is a compiled list of some of the best Oktoberfest beers available on the market today:
Sam Adams- Octoberfest
Great Lakes Brewing Company- Oktoberfest
Brooklyn Brewery- Oktoberfest
Victory Brewing Company- Festbier