Posts Tagged ‘marzen’

Five Alternative Spring Brews

Wednesday, March 24th, 2010

Spring is officially here and that means it’s time for a fresh crop of seasonal beers. Many breweries release their springtime beers this time of year to coincide with the new season. There are plenty of other delicious brews out there that go great with this time of year, so here’s a look at five alternative spring beers:

Marzen – German for the month of March, this style is closely related to the Oktoberfest style, as traditionally March was when beers were brewed for Oktoberfest. Today some brewers will make separate batches to be enjoyed in the springtime. These beers are usually very mild with a dark copper color. They have a slightly sweet, delicate taste and very little hops. Overall it’s a light and crisp style that’s as great in the fall as it is now. Try Spaten’s version to get the classic example of the style. Ayinger also makes a very traditional version. Victory has a nice bold American craft take on it as does Abita.

Maibock - This style is perhaps the lightest of the bock family of heavy German lagers. It’s got a light body with slightly sweet flavors and a moderate hop profile. Dead Guy Ale is probably the most well known version of this style, although it tends to be a bit sweeter and stronger than most. Smuttynose does an interesting version that’s worth a try. Flying Dog’s Heller Hound Bock is also pretty refreshing.

Witt – As we discussed on Thursday, there’s been a lot of attention in this style recently thanks to the popularity of Blue Moon (which many don’t realize is made by Coors.) These beers offer a wonderfully fruity and crisp wheat flavor that’s a great introduction to folks new to the world of craft beer. There are some great craft wits out there, including the Ommegang Witte, Allagash White and Blanche De Chambly from Unibroue.

Saison – Also known as farmhouse ale, this style was once originally brewed to be consumed during the hot summer months while doing farm work. Whether you’re a farmer or not, it’s still a great style to enjoy any time of the year. These beers are light and extremely crisp with a spice that comes from herbs and spices  used in the beer. The sharp but sweet flavors are one of my favorite spring beers. Dupont is the classic version of this Belgian style. Their Foret version is also pretty tasty. Hennepin from Ommegang is a fantastic American craft version, as is Smuttynose’s Farmhouse Ale.

Cream Ale – Traditionally a poorly regarded style, there have been a number of brewers in recent years who have redeemed this one’s standing. They are extremely creamy while still being relatively light and pleasant. Sam Adams does a great version, as does Anderson Valley with their Summer Solstice. If you can get your hands on Lagunitas Sirius ale, you’ll be sure to enjoy it.

This is just a few of the great brews that go well with this time of year. What’s your favorite beer this time of year? Next time you try it, let us know by tweeting your beer and adding the #mybeer hashtag

Style Profile: Oktoberfest

Thursday, October 15th, 2009

OktoberfestAlthough Oktoberfest in Munich ended last Sunday, there’s no reason why we can’t continue to enjoy all the great Oktoberfest beer that’s produced every year. Today we’re going to take a look at the history and characteristics of this wonderful German style of beer.

Oktoberfest first took place on October 10, 1810 as a 16 day celebration of the marriage between Prince Ludwig of Bavaria and Princess Therese of Saxony-Hildburghausen. The main attraction for the 40,000 Bavarians at the  festival wasn’t the beer but rather a horse race. Over the next few years, the attention shifted away from the horse race and wedding anniversary and toward a celebration  of the fall harvest. When food and beer stands were introduced in 1818, this transition was complete, and the Oktoberfest as we know it was born. Since that time, Oktoberfest celebrations have spread to the rest of Germany, and today, Oktoberfest type celebrations are held throughout the world each fall.

Some brewers have a tendency to make whatever beer they want and call it “Oktoberfest,” but the real stuff has its roots in the strong traditions of German beer. Oktoberfest is usually brewed in the Marzen style, a beer brewed in the late spring for consumption over the hot summer months. A type of lager, Oktoberfest/Marzen typically has a copper  to red color with a lightly malty or sweet taste. The hops are generally mild and take a backseat to the malts. These balanced qualities make Oktoberfest/Marzen the perfect brew for the fall. It’s right between the lighter summer styles and the heavier winter styles.

Sam Adams’ take on Oktoberfest is probably the most well known American version, but be sure to try some German varieties for something slightly more authentic. Paulaner, Spaten and Ayinger are three great German breweries who each make a mean Oktoberfest that’s slightly sweeter than Sam Adams.

What’s your favorite Oktoberfest beer? Let us know next time you have it by tweeting your beer and adding the ‘#mybeer’ hashtag.


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