Drinkers everywhere will soon be raising a stein in honour of Oktoberfest, the most famous beer festival in the world.
The German tradition began in 1810 as a wedding celebration for Prince Ludwig of Bavaria and Princess Therese of Sachsen-Hildburghausen and has taken place every year since except during times of war, cholera and, notably, the COVID-19 pandemic.
The typical Oktoberfest beer is a malt-forward, amber-coloured lager called Märzen, which translates to March or the month it was historically brewed to then be enjoyed in the fall. But if you visit Munich’s Oktoberfest, which was cancelled this year due to COVID-19, you won’t often find the Märzen there. Instead, beer tents serve festbier, a lighter, golden-colored style introduced by Paulaner in the 1970s and deliberately designed to be “more poundable,” according to the brewery.
When it comes to the Märzen, breweries tend to stick true to tradition, so grab one while you can to pair with the beer drinking season.
Prost Brewing Co.’s Märzen
Prost means “cheers” in German, and as this Denver brewery’s name suggests, it’s highly influenced by Germany’s beer-making heritage. That includes, in most cases, adhering to the country’s purity law Reinheitsgebot, which dictates beer be made only with barley, hops, water and yeast. Prost’s Märzen is a medium-bodied amber lager featuring toasty malt flavors and a clean finish.
Now available in six-packs of cans throughout Colorado.
Bierstadt Lagerhaus’ Oktoberfest
What better place to go looking for a lager than a brewery that specializes in making them? For its Märzen, Bierstadt used a German brewing method called decoction, in which brewers repeatedly take out part of the mash, heat it up and then return it to the mash tun to bring the wort up to temperature. The result is a rich, 5.6% ABV amber lager with enough hop bitterness to offset the malty sweetness and finish dry.
Available on draft and in cans at a launch party Sept. 18 at the brewery (2875 Blake St, Denver), as well as on draft and cans throughout the Denver region.
Irwin Brewing Co.’s Amber’s Lager
The Amber’s Lager from Crested Butte’s Irwin Brewing Co. is as traditional a German-style Märzen beer as they come — with a gold medal from the 2020 Great American Beer Festival to prove it. Expect notes of toasted bread and caramelized sugar alongside the lager’s characteristic crispness from this 5.5% alcohol brew. Fun fact: The brewery keeps this recipe on tap year-round, so Oktoberfest isn’t limited to one season.
Dry Dock Brewing Co.’s Docktoberfest
This cleverly named beer, which boasts a biscuit-like aroma and rich malty flavors, will be one of several German styles on tap during Dry Dock Brewing Co.’s annual event by the same name. On Sept. 18, stop by the South Dock location (15120 E. Hampden Ave., Aurora) to enjoy a ceremonial keg tapping by the city’s mayor and steins of Docktoberfest, Helles, Hefeweizen, and Dunkel, among others.
Ska Brewing Co.’s Oktoberfest
Ska Brewing Co.’s recipe, made exclusively with Munich and Vienna malts, won a gold medal in the Vienna Lager category at the 2018 Great American Beer Festival. Vienna lagers are typically more bitter than the traditional Märzen and a little lighter in body, though the malt is still the star, making the style an apt pairing for the season.
Now available in six-packs of 12-ounce cans throughout Colorado.