Oktoberfest is an annual 16-day German celebration that primarily takes place in September. It doesn’t make sense to me either. That’s what they get for using a metric calendar.
Much like St. Patrick’s Day, Cinco De Mayo and Tuesday, most Americans treat Oktoberfest as a transparent excuse for excessive drinking. However, Oktoberfest is the only ethnic holiday of the bunch whose native celebration isn’t just a touristy affectation. It represents the world’s largest fair with nearly 6 million people attending and is a prominent part of Bavarian culture. Never doubt the power of bier and steckerlfisch to bring people together.
“The best fisch you’ll ever eat on a steckerl or it’s free!”
The first Oktoberfest occurred in 1810 to celebrate the royal marriage of two people who were probably already related somehow. Since that time it has been commemorated annually in America by old men performing the chicken dance in ill-fitting lederhosen and aging DJs kicking off “another non-stop Rocktober”. To say Americans are not burdened with an abundance of tradition would be an understatement.
As much as I tease this fine celebration, it is responsible for coining a phrase that I absolutely adore. Since Oktoberfest beer is traditionally served by the liter it is not uncommon to randomly discover participants face-first on the ground. Were it not for the occasional twitch and their liver emerging out of their back to wave the white flag of surrender, they would probably be assumed dead. These incredibly drunk patrons are often called “Bierleichen”, which is German for “beer corpses”. Awesome.
(My editor has just informed me that my last two posts, while scintillating and informative, have not met my contractually designated ratio of content to cleavage. Accordingly, the image real estate that is usually wasted on informative beer labels has been replaced with the hottest girl I could find drinking the beer in question. Besides, everyone knows beer tastes better with chauvinism!)
Hofbrau Oktoberfest (6.3% ABV)
This vibrant gold brew has a robust finger of beady eggshell head. The aroma has some orange rind and an oddly soapy aroma. It’s not an offensive detergent smell, just something my nose always seems to pick out of the hops that many German breweries leverage. Some beer drinkers might scoff at my clumsy olfactory perception, but my therapist tells me that my nose’s feelings are valid and worthy of love.
The flavor on this is surprisingly sharp for something you’re expected to shotgun from Das Boot:
In the off-season this can double as Das Crackpipe
This doesn’t really provide the sweetness up front that you’d expect from an Oktoberfest, but there is a soft maltiness that hovers through the experience. It’s light in body, but the oily mouthfeel makes the grassy and citrusy hops linger. It teeters on the edge of being unbalanced for this style, but it’s still a range I’m very comfortable with.
For all the unique character this beer brings, it would still be relatively sessionable and make a fantastic compliment to bratwurst. Pro-tip: studies show that if you cut the sausage up before consuming, you can diminish the inevitable penis jokes from friends by nearly 30%!
Spaten Oktoberfest (5.9% ABV)
This Oktoberfest has a more characteristic dark amber coloration. It smells like the pile of bread crusts trimmed off the sandwich I just made for some whiny little shit who swears she won’t eat it otherwise. This is why daddy drinks.
The first 85% of the experience is a smooth, bready flavor that is insanely easy drinking. The following 14% represents the slowly mounting grassy hops. The remaining 1% tastes like schnitzel-crusted hasenpfeffer on a bed of sauerkraut. Don’t feel bad if you missed it – I am the expert after all. Keep trying! Winners never quit, no matter what their family physician urges.
The best way to describe this beer would be to imagine a glass of Hofbrau Oktoberfest in an alternate Bizarro Oktoberfest World where everything is opposite. Its light in body, malty and probably served by flat-chested brunettes. It’s kind of a one-note experience (for those amateurs who didn’t taste the schnitzel-rabbit-kraut at least), but it’s a pretty damn tasty note.
Paulaner Oktoberfest Marzen (5.8% ABV)
This dark amber beer is a bit dull, but the head is a crisp, creamy white. It’s not terribly aromatic, but I get bits of bread crust and some spicy notes.
The Paulaner Oktoberfest is definitely the most seasonal of the group. With just one sip I get pumpkin, roasted malts, cinnamon, the dread of returning to school, the anger of baseball playoffs preempting my much preferred reruns of The Simpsons and the eerie satisfaction of knowing millions of turkeys will soon perish. I guess you could say it’s a much richer experience than the predecessors. There’s a bite at the end from carbonation that is a bit jarring, but forgivable.
The complexity on this one earns high marks with my personal tastes, but it might be a bit much for someone intending to line these up Oktoberfest-style. It’s hard to fault something for being too flavorful, so I’ve decided to dock Paulaner points simply for not stockpiling more images of hot girls chugging it.