Oktoberfest is well known, worldwide, as a beer festival that occurs all over Germany during the last 2 weeks of September, running through the first Sunday of October. Many people are familiar with the festival itself, but not the origins, or why it has continued to go on for over 200 years, now. It all began as a wedding celebration for the crown prince of Bavaria (who would later become King Louis I) in late September in 1810, ending about 5 days later with a horse race. In the following year, the horse race was joined up with an agricultural faire, and by 1818, booths serving food and drinks (beer included) were becoming a popular asset. In the years to follow, Bavarian brewers would erect what would become the beer halls we know and love today. The festival has been going ever since, every year, to celebrate and experience what the Germans call, gemütlichkeit, or
For our Oktoberfest beer, we begin in the mash tun with a blend of local Pilsner malt, and authentic German Vienna, Munich, and a debittered/dehusked roasted malt known as Carafa III, which lends a light roasted, almost chocolatey flavor. We then boil our wort for an hour, to help drive off any precursory off-flavors coming from the malt that would otherwise appear after fermentation has completed. During the boil, we add a touch of German Magnum hops to help balance the sweetness of the malts with a very mild bitterness. Just before cooling the wort down and sending it to the fermenter, we add a small amount of East Kent Goldings hops to help drive an enticing aroma in the finished beer. We then ferment with a robust lager strain, and let the beer bulk age in the fermenter for another 5 weeks after fermentation has been completed.
By far, this is my favorite beer that we make. When I think of what beer tastes like, it’s this beer (beer flavored beer). The Vienna and Munich style malts lend a rich caramel and bready complexion to the flavor and aroma. The off-dry finish tempts another sip, as it goes down crisp and refreshing, but with just enough sweetness to please the palate. I love German-style lagers to begin with; however our Hugelkultur Oktoberfest bier is so well balanced between the malt and hop characteristics, that I can’t get enough of it. If you catch me in the taproom during the months of September and early October, you’ll find me with a tall glass of this in hand. I hope you enjoy this bier as much as I do! Prost!