Do you know the seasonal story behind Oktoberfest? Before the advent of refrigeration, the German brewing season lasted from October to March. Busy brewers worked overtime in the late winter months, concluding with the March beer known as Märzen, which was stored in cool casks to last through the summer.
When cooler fall weather arrived, brewers were ready to get back to work. They needed empty casks to store the bounty of the new season. What better excuse to have a party and finish of the remainder of the Märzen, which had mellowed to delicious, malty perfection?
To help you partake of this time-honored tradition, we asked for a few suggestions from Dave Ohmer, brewmaster for the Whole Foods Market Brewing Company, a first-of-its-kind brewpub located inside our Post Oak store in Houston, Texas.
Dave explained that Märzen lagers have evolved from the dark, full-bodied beer of medieval times. These days there are actually two varieties of beer associated with Oktoberfest celebrations: copper-colored, medium-bodied Oktoberfest lagers and lighter “festbiers,” which are more suited for long days of festival drinking.
If a medium-bodied, malty beer is more to your liking, Dave recommends Ayinger Oktober Fest-Märzen or Texas-based Real Ale Brewing Company’s Oktoberfest.
If you’re in the market for an easy-drinking festbier, check out Weihenstephaner Oktoberfestbier or local Texas favorites Karbach Brewing Company’s Karbachtoberfest.
If, like Dave, you love local beers with handcrafted character, his advice is to explore what your local craft breweries have to offer. Need help finding a local option that reflects Dave’s suggestions? Ask one of our knowledgeable team members in the beer section of your local store!
Whether you choose a malty Märzen lager or a lighter festbier, Dave recommends pairing with a good bratwurst, a hearty roll and a heap of sauerkraut. Prost!
Do you have a favorite Oktoberfest beer? Share your tasting notes in the comments!