Something different. Yep, I was in the mood for something different. At various times during the week I’d run across articles and pictures of Munich’s Oktoberfest which is on right now and will run until the first Sunday in October. how about an Oktoberfest beer? They’re falling off the shelves in many beer stores so why not.
Oktoberfest beers are lagers. The marzen style originated a little over 200 years ago. The beer was brewed in March and kept cool in caves and then served at the reception after the marriage of Prince Ludwig and Princess Therese. The festival anniversary is now called Oktoberfest and marzen style beer has been served there ever since. Today, the Munich Oktoberfest attracts thousands from all over the world. The porta-potties must be obscenely smelly and sticky.
I haven’t had an Oktoberfest beer in quite a while, so I thought I’d reacquaint myself with the style. I knew what a lager tasted like (Beer Thousand – DFH !!!) but those one or two nuances that differentiate a marzen from a regular lager was what I was looking for. I picked up a sixer of Spaten Oktoberfest Ur Marzen and wondered how I could fit “ur” into my vocabulary.
In many of the pictures I saw, a few brewery’s beer signs prevalent in their beer tents in Munich. Paulaner, Spaten, Löwenbräu and Hacker-Pschoor. I looked for the Ofest beer from each of these breweries at the stores in my area and the only one I could find was Spaten. It had a relatively good rating on RateBeer and I was excited to dive into one.
Then I found out the bad news: Spaten is a part of InBev. I tried to look at the brighter side by reminding myself that InBev is also part of Goose Island. Also, the beer came in green bottles. Either way, I still wanted to drink this beer. The tradition of the style is what got me back up.
This beer is not simply called a marzen, but rather ur marzen. What does ur mean? Found that out on some English style guidelines site. It means “of the earliest origin.” There. We have a beer brewed in the earliest style of marzen. I like it.
But instead of just writing about it, how about we drink it and write about it.
The beer poured with a nice deep orange color, much darker than I anticipated. Tons of carbonation action with plenty of the larger sized bubbles. The head came up a nice, thick, creamy white. The aroma was slight but I noticed some sweet malt scents.
The first sip was damn good. Right away the caramel maltiness of the beverage jumps out. It had a nice, medium mouthfeel and left the palate immediately, making me want another sip right away. The swallow was crisp and hop flavors were subdued. I was glad I decided on this beer.
Halfway through the first glassful, the foam head went away leaving just a small foamy ring around the perimeter of the glass. I know from research that Sptaten uses Hallertau hops in all of their beers. In this Ofest beer, I suspect the IBUs are in the 20s, pretty low.
Soon the sweetness manifested leaving a pleasant sweet taste around the lips. Every sip was gladly followed by another and another. So good. Chances are, that if I tasted a Spaten next to a Paulaner Oktoberfest beer, I’d prefer the Spaten.
There may be better Marzenbiers out there, but if you want to taste a true example of the style, I’d suggest you start with a Spaten Oktoberfest and go from there. It would be interesting to sample a different Oktoberfest beer brewed by various breweries each day for about a week and take tasting notes. Or, sample a few side by side. You’ll find the perfect one that appeals to you.
Style: Oktoberfest Marzenbier
Taste: Good body with a subtle sweetness.
Smoothness: Slick as a satin sheet.
Drinkability: Bring’em on, we’ve got time.
Bang for the buck: On a par with others of the style.
Amount paid: $9.99 per sixpack of 12-ounce bottles.
Get it again? Perhaps next year around this time.
Wife’s all-encompassing opinion: (Sniff) Not a lot. (sip) Yeah it doesn’t have much. (sip) It’s like watered down. (sip) It’s mild, I could drink some of it. (Wait til stout season rolls around.)
Tapping the first keg at this year’s Oktoberfest [1:20]