The days are shorter. There’s a nip in the air. Leaves are changing colours. It must be time for . . . Oktoberfest.
The annual rite originated in Munich, where late September and early October are marked by 16 days of beer gardens and bratwurst. One on the most important ingredients of any Oktoberfest is, of course, the beer – and not just any beer.
The official beer of Oktoberfest is a style known as marzen. Marzens are generally medium- to full-bodied, with a distinctive malty flavour and clean finish. The name marzen (German for March beer) refers to the fact that the beer is traditionally brewed in March, then cellared throughout the summer, which often increases the alcohol content. Marzens also tend to be very drinkable beers, as Oktoberfest revelers gulp down stein after stein of them.
This year, Vancouver’s craft brewers have outdone themselves turning out a crop of German-style marzens (Randy Shore details them all and more in this great Vancouver Sun article). Here are four authentic marzens – available in local bars, brew pubs and liquor stores – to get you in the Oktoberfest spirit.
- Iron Plow Harvest Marzen from Vancouver Island Brewery: Dark gold in colour, with a rich, malty aroma, this beer starts out on the sweet side but has a dry, hoppy finish. This easy-drinking brew is perfect for those long Oktoberfest nights.
- 2012 Russell Marzen from Russel Brewing Company: This copper-coloured lager aims for authenticity. It’s made with German malts, German hops and a yeast strain from Germany. It has a rich, toasted malt aroma balanced by a clean, hoppy bitterness.
- Festbier from Mission Springs Brewing Co.: Munich malt from Germany plus natural-pressure carbonation make for a a very smooth, drinkable beer. The best place to find this beer is at Mission Springs’s brew pub in Mission.
- Oktoberfest Lager from Central City: Anything from Central City Brewing (which makes the Red Racer label) is bound to be good, and this year’s marzen is no exception. Three different types of German malts are incorporated into this brew, which is “cold-lagered” for maximum control of the fermentation process. You can find this on tap this month at Central City’s brew pub in Surrey.
Any other can’t-miss craft beers for October? Let us know below.