I blog primarily over at "geosciblog" (http://geosciblog.blogspot.com), I am doing this one for fun. It is inspired by 30+ years of beer can collecting and having tried more than 3,000 different American beers during that time. “. . . And beer was drunk with reverence, as it ought to be.” — G. K. Chesterton

Sunday, October 02, 2005

It's Oktoberfest Time!

[I haven't posted here lately because of the seriousness of the hurricane damage to the Gulf Coast and the citizens that remained in the area, those that have returned, and those that have nothing to return to (and will have to make new lives elsewhere) will need ongoing help for months.]

Anyway, we find ourselves at the threshold of a major German calendar event, Oktoberfest. I will update with links to more historically accurate accounts, but I seem to remember that Oktoberfest was a post-harvest celebration and an enjoyment of the remaining warm weather before the coming cold winter months. That sounds logical anyway. A quick visit to www.beeradvocate.com reminded me that in Germany, brewing was suspended during the summer months because of the heat and increased susceptibility to bacterial infections of the fermenting beer. So Oktoberfest celebrated the return of beer.

If outdoor festivals with rich, hearty German foods, are not your forte, you can still hoist a glass of micro-brewed Oktoberfest or other Autumn brews and have your own private celebration of one of the important contributions of German immigrants - lager beers.

A description of Marzen and Oktoberfests (both amber lagers) from the Beer Advocate is as follows:

Before refrigeration, it was nearly impossible to brew beer in the summer due to the hot weather and bacterial infections. Brewing ended with the coming of spring, and began again in the fall. Most were brewed in March (Märzen). These brews were kept in cold storage over the spring and summer months, or brewed at a higher gravity, so they’d keep. Märzenbier is full-bodied, rich, toasty, typically dark copper in colour with a medium to high alcohol content.

The common Munich Oktoberfest beer served at Wies’n (the location at which Munich celebrates its Oktoberfest) contains only 4.5% alcohol by volume, is dark/copper in color, has a mild hop profile and is typically labeled as a Bavarian Märzenbier in style.

From the reviewers at the Beer Advocate, here is a link to the Top 50 rated Oktoberfests. I primarily enjoy American microbrews, so I haven't tried the foreign brands, perhaps I should seek out the highest rated German variety just for the sake of comparison.

Of the varieties (in bottles) that I have found here in the Atlanta area, these are in the Top 50:

5. Thomas Hooker Octoberfest (Troutbrook Brewing Co., Hartford, CT)
11. Brooklyn Oktoberfest
43. *Dominion Octoberfest (*actually not here yet, but some of their other products are starting to show up in the Atlanta market, maybe the draft version will make it here.)

The ratings were on a scale of 1 - 5 and the 50th was a 3.71

Other locally available (or maybe by the end of the month) are:

Samuel Adams Octoberfest (rating 3.53) - bottles
Augsburger Oktoberfest (rating 3.66) - bottles
Flying Dog Dogtoberfest (rating 3.56) - draft only in Atlanta at Summits Wayside Taverns
Abita Amber (rating 3.45) - actually a year-round offering of this style
*Avery The Kaiser (rating 3.87) - *other Avery products are showing up here in bottles, haven't seen The Kaiser yet.
Abita Fall Fest (rating 3.19) - mixed reviews, is usually sold in Holiday 12 pack variety boxes.
Savannah Fest Beer (rating 3.51) - actually on sale in Savannah at the Moon River Brewing Co. (oops - their website is gone, hope this isn't bad news.)
Bavarian Ecstacy Festbier (rating 3.9) - 5 Seasons Brewing Co. - Atlanta brewpub
Max Oktoberfest (rating 3.45) - Max Lager's Brewing Co. - Atlanta brewpub
Shiner 96 Marzen - Spoetzl Bwg. Co., Shiner, TX - new!
Redhook Autumn - Redhook Bwg. Co. - new!

Some of the other Atlanta brewpubs - Rock Bottom, Gordon Biersch, Park Tavern and Copper City in Athens and Cannon in Columbus - may have their own Oktoberfest beers.
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