Oktoberfest has always been one of my favorite styles. Just the name and the history behind the style is enticing. Autumn is already my favorite time of year as I'm usually tired of summer by its end and looking forward to the cooler days...fall colors and of course hunting season and spending time outdoors. Having a festival to celebrate this alone seems like a great idea to me!
From what I hear, the Oktoberfest celebration in Germany is really something to see and is an experience and that is one of the things that I absolutely must do in my lifetime. The beer, the food(pretzels and wurst!) and the atmosphere must really be something. Originally it was a multi day festival celebrating the marriage of a mad king(yes the one that built the castle that Disney is modeled after). But back to the beer...
Oktoberfest beer is a Vienna/Märzen style lager. This is an amber colored lager originally brewed in Vienna, Austria and adapted later by the brewers in Munich, Bavaria in Germany. The darker malts go well with the more alkaline/less soft water of southern Germany and Austria compared to the Pilsners of Bohemia. Märzen refers to the fact that this beer is traditionally brewed in March for release in the fall. Actually, alot of brewing was historically done in March in Germany because it was as late as they could reliable use the colder temperatures for lager brewing with warmer temperature ales...such as Hefeweizen being brewed in the summer months.
So, I'm planning to brew an Oktoberfest this month and give it the full 6 month fermentation/storage period for tapping at an Oktoberfest party this fall at our house. In researching the style I always like to try as many examples as I can and came across the Ayinger Oktoberfest at out local beer store. The Ayinger brewery is a private brewery in a small town (Aying) in Bavaria. I have liked the other Ayinger beers that I've tried so was looking forward to trying this one. The color was classic orange/copper color typical of Vienna/Marzen Lagers with a nice level of foam on the top. The taste is malty but balanced nicely with hops. The malt flavor is very bready or biscutlike most likely due to the use of Vienna malt. The hops are noticeable but not very upfront. This is a very easy drinking beer, which is a must since it comes by the liter stein at Oktoberfest celebrations. Actually, from what I've read and heard from folks who have been to Oktoberfest in Munich, over the past several years the beer that is served has become lighter in color and is now closer to a blend of Munich Helles and Maibock than the original Oktoberfest style. This is a shame since this is such a great style of beer. Hopefully mine will come out similar and true to style.