Beer. Bavarian culture. Tradition. Harvest. Märzen Bier. From a celebration in a field to a beer worth celebrating.
Greetings on this first day of October! And a lovely fall day it is in Milwaukee.
For the past month many Oktoberfest celebrations have taken place around the world, most notably in Munich and Milwaukee. Fun is had by all who often drink copious amounts of seasonal Oktoberfest beer, listen to Bavarian music, dance, eat soft pretzels, regard fraus and frauleins in dirndls, and herrs in leiderhozen. Sprecher makes a traditional Oktoberfest beer, a Märzen style, which is a perennial award winner both in competitions (GABF, LA International, U.S. Open) and among craft beer lovers. More about that later, but first a bit about the history of the Oktoberfest celebration (courtesy of Wikipedia):
Crown Prince Ludwig, later to become King Ludwig I, was married to Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen on October 12,1810. The citizens of Munich were invited to attend the festivities held on the fields in front of the city gates to celebrate the happy royal event. The fields were named Theresienwiese (“Theresa’s meadow”) in honor of the Crown Princess, and have kept that name ever since, although the locals have since abbreviated the name simply to the “Wies’n”.
The festival was eventually prolonged and moved ahead to September to allow for better weather conditions. Today, the last day of the festival is the first Sunday in October.
But what about the beer?
According to Wikipedia: Märzen has its origins in Bavaria, probably before the 16th century. A Bavarian brewing ordinance decreed in 1539 that beer may be brewed only between 29 September and 23 April. The original Märzen was described as “dark brown, full-bodied”. The beer was often kept in the cellar until late in the summer, and remaining bottles were served at Oktoberfest. In order to last so long, either the original gravity and alcohol were increased or the hopping was strengthened.
Michael Jackson writes: From “March” in German. Originally a beer brewed in March and laid down in caves before the summer weather rendered brewing impossible. Stocks would be drawn upon during the summer, and finally exhausted in October. In Germany, this tradition has come to be associated with one specific style. Marzenbier has a malty aroma, and is a medium-strong version (classically, more than 5.5 percent alcohol by volume) of the amber-red Vienna style. It is seasonal to the Oktoberfest, where it is offered as a traditional speciality alongside paler beers of a similar strength.
Fast forward to the present time. Now that you’ve got the history, there’s a good reason to raise a pint or few of Sprecher Oktoberfest during this fall season. The Weekly Pint says:
Fall equates with better beer drinking. We love the simple pleasures of all those good Oktoberfest parties, which, starting this week, take over every German-style beer bar in America (and some entire towns, like Leavenworth, WA). The true, traditional beer to order is Märzen (say “mayer-tsen“), a medium-bodied, coppery-red lager marked by a smooth malt character and the spicy kick of noble hops. It’s an under-appreciated style—for some reason, it’s scarcely served at the big traditional Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany, which runs from 9/22 to 10/7 this year—and has a sociable ABV (alcohol by volume) of just five to seven percent, making it the perfect match for bratwurst, if not an impromptu chicken dance or two as the oom-pah band rocks it that much harder.
Got lederhosen? Maybe not. But you can get the right beer. Here, two of our favorite Oktoberfest brews to pick up from your local beer shop this season. After all, as Ahnold once helpfully reminded the world: “Milk is for babies. When you grow up you have to drink beer.”
Sprecher Oktoberfest; 5.75%abv
From one of our perennial favorite breweries available throughout the central and Eastern U.S. states comes this sturdy offering, aged a full six weeks before release. Aromatic and a touch nutty, with a pleasant caramel-y note, it’s got a bready, malty backbone and the marked spiciness of Hallertau and Mt. Hood hops.
Come to Sprecher Brewery, tour and enjoy the Oktoberfest. Pick some up in our Gift Shop. Get a growler full (either stainless or glass growler). Try some at your favorite venue. You’ll be saying Prost! (and perhaps GO Pack!) in no time. Sprecher Oktoberfest is available throughout the Midwest. If you can’t find it, let us know.