Octoberfest Lager

Posted: September 18, 2011 in Uncategorized

Octoberfest is a beer drinking festival which originated in Munich Germany in 1810. The beer of choice in the tents is also called Octoberfest, A malty, amber, German Lager, usually served by the litre. This beer style is described at length by the BJCP (beer judge) brewing guidlines.  This is the description in it’s entirety:

3B. Oktoberfest/Märzen

Aroma: Rich
German malt aroma (of Vienna and/or Munich malt).  A light to moderate toasted malt aroma is often present.  Clean lager aroma with no
fruity esters or diacetyl.  No hop
aroma.  Caramel aroma is inappropriate.

Appearance: Dark
gold to deep orange-red color. Bright clarity, with solid, off-white, foam

Flavor: Initial
malty sweetness, but finish is moderately dry.
Distinctive and complex maltiness often includes a toasted aspect.  Hop bitterness is moderate, and noble hop
flavor is low to none. Balance is toward malt, though the finish is not
sweet.  Noticeable caramel or roasted
flavors are inappropriate.  Clean lager
character with no diacetyl or fruity esters.

Mouthfeel: Medium
body, with a creamy texture and medium carbonation.  Smooth.
Fully fermented, without a cloying finish.

Overall Impression: Smooth,
clean, and rather rich, with a depth of malt character.  This is one of the classic malty styles, with
a maltiness that is often described as soft, complex, and elegant but never

History: Origin
is credited to Gabriel Sedlmayr, based on an adaptation of the Vienna style
developed by Anton Dreher around 1840, shortly after lager yeast was first
isolated.  Typically brewed in the
spring, signaling the end of the traditional brewing season and stored in cold
caves or cellars during the warm summer months.
Served in autumn amidst traditional celebrations.

Domestic German versions tend to be golden, like a strong Pils-dominated
Helles.  Export German versions are
typically orange-amber in color, and have a distinctive toasty malt
character.  German beer tax law limits
the OG of the style at 14˚P since it is a vollbier,
although American versions can be stronger.
“Fest” type beers are special occasion beers that are usually stronger
than their everyday counterparts.

Grist varies, although German Vienna malt is often the backbone of the grain
bill, with some Munich malt, Pils malt, and possibly some crystal malt. All
malt should derive from the finest quality two-row barley. Continental hops,
especially noble varieties, are most authentic.
Somewhat alkaline water (up to 300 PPM), with significant carbonate
content is welcome.  A decoction mash can
help develop the rich malt profile.

Vital Statistics:                             OG:  1.050 – 1.057

IBUs:  20 – 28                                FG:  1.012 – 1.016

SRM:  7 – 14                              ABV:  4.8 – 5.7%

Commercial Examples:
Paulaner Oktoberfest, Ayinger Oktoberfest-Märzen, Hacker-Pschorr Original
Oktoberfest, Hofbräu Oktoberfest, Victory Festbier, Great Lakes Oktoberfest,
Spaten Oktoberfest, Capital Oktoberfest, Gordon Biersch Märzen, Goose Island
Oktoberfest, Samuel Adams Oktoberfest (a bit unusual in its late hopping)

Using these guidlines as our starting point, we seek out the best, most authentic ingredients possible and that search begins with the Weyermann Malting Company in Bamburg Germany.  The only barley malt that makes it into our traditional Octoberfest Lager is grown and malted in the land that created the style.  We use 4 different varieties to give our beer it’s complex toasted malt flavor and the beautiful orange shade of color.  Here are the 4 malts and a link to the Weyermann website to explore all of their malts.

Vienna Malt

Light Munich (type 2)

Cara Red



One variety of German grown hop is used throughout the boil of this beer and that hop is known as Tettnang (my favorite German hop!)

The original hop variety comes from Tettnang which is a small town in the German state of Baden-Württemberg.

The first mention of hops growing in the Tettnang region is 1150 A.D….so a long time ago.  They were first grown for commercial purposes in 1844.

One source stated that they are so closely related to Saaz hops that they cannot be distinguished from each other.

There are hops that are grown in different places around the world that use the Tettnang name.   Hops with the label of Tettnang Tettnanger should be the authentic variety, but check to make sure.

Here’s the breakdown for Tettnang Hops:

Origin: Germany (more details above)

Aroma/Flavor: Rich, flowery, spicy

Alpha Acid: 3.5% to 5.0%

Typical Usage: All purpose – Bittering/Flavoring/Aroma

Beer Styles: German Wheat and American Lagers

Last but not least in the brewing of MABC Octoberfest Lager is the selection of yeast used to ferment this beer. Our selection is a traditional German lager yeast that gives the beer much of it’s clean crisp character. We are just lucky enough to have chosen this yeast as our house lager yeast and is also used in our Gabby Blonde lager as well as Auburn Lager and many of the other lager styles we brew throuout the year.

Our Octoberfest is a perfect transitional beer from summer to fall, as the weather gets cooler and the days get shorter. Heartier than the light and crisp summer beers but not heavy like winter beers this is the one to seek out at all 3 MABC locations as well as other fine retailers serving MABC draft.


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