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Saturday, September 16, 2017

Tis the Season! Oktoberfest 2017 is Here!

Oktoberfest at Seven Bridges, Jacksonville, 2016
There probably isn't any more festive time of year in the beer world than OKTOBERFEST! 

The 184th German Oktoberfest is now officially underway! Beginning on September 16, 2017, the beer will flow through October 3. The annual celebration takes place each year in Munich during the last two weeks of September through the first weekend of October, and is host to approximately 6 million revelers annually. Last year, 5.6 million festgoers attended. If you aren't attending the "Wiesn" (German for "meadow") this year, don't get your shorts (lederhosen) all in a bunch. It's also popular time in the U.S. and another reason to celebrate beer! Everyone's German during Oktoberfest, so grab your lederhosen and dirndls!




Das Boot!
First a little history lesson, because the Oktoberfest celebration isn't just about the beer. It's an integral part of German history, and we have Bavaria's King Maximilian Joseph to thank for it. In 1810, the King hosted a two-day festival to celebrate the wedding of his son, Crown Prince Ludwig, to Princess Therese. The event offered free beer and free food at several Munich locations, along with a horse race at a racing ground which later became known as Theresienwiese. And, behold, a tradition was born! The first Oktoberfest began on October 12, but was later moved to September for better weather. Every year, the mayor of Munich taps the first keg at noon on the first day of Oktoberfest by proclaiming "O'zapft is!" ("it is tapped"), and the revelry begins. 


With Luch at Engine 15 Brewing Oktoberfest 2016
Of course, there's beer! The name "Oktoberfest" is an appellation in Germany, and under the applicable laws, only those beers brewed by the large breweries within the Munich city limits can be served at the Oktoberfest and are allowed to use "Oktoberfest" as a name for the beer (Augustinerbräu München, Hacker-Pschorr, Hofbräu, Löwenbräu, Paulaner, and Spaten-Franziskaner-Bräu). The Oktoberfest revelers will find those beers under 16 large and small tents, which can hold 119,000. In addition, there are over 20 small tents serving foods and pastries! Certainly, an event of epic gastronomical proportions (not to mention the waistlines after the festival). 

The "Oktoberfest" beers (or the Americanized "Octoberfest"), also generally known as"Märzen" or "Festbier," began making their way to U.S. store shelves about a month ago. Sure, that was August, and it may have seemed early to some, but Oktoberfest starts in September! (Meanwhile, those fall pumpkin beers seemed to begin their invasion as the 4th of July fireworks finale hit the last boom).



Oktoberfest 2016 at
Green Room Brewing
While the styles of Märzen and Oktoberfest (lagers) have, in the past, largely been deemed the same under the style guidelines, the 2015 BJCP (Beer Judge Certification Program) Guidelines distinguish the two. Typically, an Oktoberfest/Märzen is malty, sweet and amber-to-light brown in color. Over the years, however, the German Oktoberfest renditions have taken on a lighter, more golden color, mostly in response to consumer sentiment and the movement toward a "lighter, more drinkable" version (or, said another way, more "poundable," according to the comments by the Paulaner brewer in the BJCP guidelines).  So, now, as far as official BJCP "styles" go, and in recognition of the protected Oktoberfest name in Germany, the "Festbier" is the golden version with a strong malty flavor alongside a lightly toasty and softly sweet character. The "Märzen" is the amber-to-light brown type, also with a malty sweetness and rich, toasty, bready flavor. The ABV and IBUs are roughly the same (5.8-6.3% and 18-24/25, respectively). The US-brewed "Oktoberfest" types are generally in the Märzen styles.


No matter which version of the seasonal beer you enjoy, there are several ways to drink it! There's the traditional Maß ("Mass") -- or mug -- typically a one-liter vessel with a handle. Or, add to your festivities by filling your one-liter German Boot (be careful how you drink out of that boot, though!). Another option is a festive ceramic beer mug! For those wondering about the English-Metric conversions, one liter is just a bit over a quart (which is 32 oz., or two 16 oz. pints).  

These are some of my favorite styles of beer, and I am looking ahead to attending a few Oktoberfest celebrations. I don't know about you, but I've already had a few of the Oktoberfest/Festbier/Märzen beers from both German and American brewers this season (don't wait too long, or they'll be gone!). 


Of course, you'll find Oktoberfest celebrations in Florida!  To do this right, you need to get in the spirit of things, and lederhosen, dirndl and braided hair are wardrobe essentials! At least, have an Oktoberfest Bavarian Alpine hat!  





And, how about some pretzels, bratwursts, sauerkraut, schnitzel and German potatoes! Did someone say beer games? Stein-holding competitions, roll the barrel, carry the wench? Jawohl! So, grab your glassware of choice and your lager, and get your Oompah on!


Ein Prosit, Ein Prosit, Der Gemutlichkeit. Eins, zwei, drei, G'Suffa! (Guess you have to be there to appreciate that.....). Looking ahead to 2018? Save the dates: the 185th German Oktoberfest takes place September 22 - October 7. 


Lastly, be sure to take a look at The Tap This! and BeerSPHERE pages of brewnymph.com -- where you'll find listings of Oktoberfest celebrations at breweries around the state, and locally around the Jacksonville metro area (breweries and more). See also, summary of local Jax area brewery events on iwantabuzz.com (9/18). 


Ah, yes, I can hear the Oompah music already! I won't be too difficult to find around a few Oktoberfest parties around the Jacksonville area! Looking forward to all the Gemutlichkeit over the next few weeks!


Prost!

Til next time, 



Linda






Linda Johnson,
Certified Cicerone®



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