5 Beers to Start Brewing Now for Oktoberfest
Oktoberfest 2016 runs from September 17th until October 3rd. Even if you aren't game to splurge on a plane ticket to Munich to hang out with the roughly 6 million people who go each year, we're guessing you'll celebrate from where you are. Sure, there will be some nice local festivals and shindigs at local pubs, but we at Mr.Beer are all about DIY. So, we're suggesting you brew some sudsy bottles of homebrewed joy to share with your nearest and dearest. While you're at it, why not grill up some sausage (Würstl), bake some pretzels (Brezen), cook up some Knödel (potato dumplings), bust open the Sauerkraut, and/or stir up some Obatzda(spicy cheese-butter spread). After enough seriously delicious homebrew and Bavarian festival food fixins, not flying all the way to actual Munich Oktoberfest will seem like less of a tragedy. Sure, Oktoberfest originally celebrated King Ludwig I marrying Princess Theresa of Saxe-Hildburghausen on October 12, 1810, but it's now become something quite different for beer fanatics the world over. In my mind at least, Oktoberfest means that time of year when a strict diet of Bavarian specialties – beer, soft baked pretzels, sausage, and cheese dip - is permissible. Also, America tends to celebrate all October long, as we've decided that the festival's namesake refers to the entire month.
Aside from the promise of great traditional attire (gotta love those Lederhosen and Dirndl dresses) and decadent finger foods, Oktoberfest demands only the best of beer. Beer served at the Munich Oktoberfest must conform to the Reinheitsgebot (German Beer Purity Law), and be brewed within the city limits of Munich. Breweries that produce this quality Oktoberfest Beer are:
- Staatliches Hofbräu-München
Mr. Beer's Oktoberfest Top 5
So, we at Mr.Beer chose some beers similar to those you'd find at Munich Oktoberfest from the above breweries, considered those than could be enjoyed in time, and chose our top 5!
The style: Bockbiers in general, this one is a Dunkles Bock (dark Bock), are among the heaviest, maltiest, and smoothest beers in the world. You'll notice this beer needs to condition longer than the others, because it is more like a barleywine. It is rich, so it should be sipped, not guzzled. Our recipe: This beer boasts rewarding complexity with its dark amber color and caramel flavors. The addition of floral Hallertau hops brings some extra balance, while highlighting the German influence.
The style: At the time when the Reinheitsgebot was introduced (1516), Dunkels were the most common beer style. They are also said to be the original beer style for Bavaria. Beers of this style tend to have an ABV around 5.5%, with low bitterness, a malty flavor, and a distinctive dark color. Our recipe: Our Dunkel has a light floral, yet spicy, aroma as well as a rich caramel malt sweetness with a clean finish.
The style: Weissbier ("white beer") is named as such because its color is much lighter than the brown beer that was traditional in Munich at the time of this beer's creation. Outside of Bavaria, Weissbier is better known as Weizen ("wheat") beer, and Hefeweizen itself means "yeast wheat." Hefeweizens are known for their low hop bitterness, high carbonation, and clove, banana, bubble gum, and sometimes vanilla flavor notes. Our recipe: This refreshing, cloudy wheat beer is based on the traditional Bavarian classic Hefeweizen style. Added flaked wheat provides a silky body that complements the slightly spicy Sterling hops perfectly. The special German wheat yeast adds faint estery notes of banana and clove.
The style: Known as the darker version of a Hefeweizen, these wheat beers promise a delicious and complex malt profile, sometimes reminiscent of banana bread, but also with chocolatey to roasted flavors. Our recipe: The smooth and silky mouthfeel of the wheat perfectly complements the rich, malty flavors from the Munich and Chocolate Malts. The underlying banana and clove notes that the yeast provide further add to the complexity of this robust wheat beer.
The style: The centuries-old style of the Dampfbier ("steam beer") stems from the Bavarian Forest region of Germany. What makes the Dampfbier unique is that it is warm-fermented (with Weissbier yeast) at a temperature exceeding 70°F. This process causes the beer to have a slightly phenolic aftertaste (think cloves/pepper). This all-barley ale has a medium body, mild hops, and is low in effervescence. Our recipe: This beer most closely resembles a lager from the grains, and is gently hopped with a wheat yeast providing a twist of flavor that adds a pleasant surprise.