This time of year, everyone seems to be churning out an Oktoberfest beer, often referred to interchangeably as Marzen. The history and evolution of this style of beer is rather winding and confusing, so what follows is the best effort to summarize its origins as concisely as possible.
The first Oktoberfest Festival was held on the wiesn, or fairground, of Munich in 1810. At that time, the best historical data suggests that the festival beer of choice would’ve been Dunkel, the brownish-black roasty lager that originated in Bavaria. The rich, malty amber lager that we associate with festbier didn’t come to be for another 50 years or so. Anton Dreher brewed the first Vienna lager in the 1860s. Vienna lager gave rise to the best known version of festbier that was first brewed as a stronger version of Vienna lager by Joseph Sadelmayr in the 1870s, specifically for the festival. Thus, this richer and lightly spicy cousin of Vienna lager became known by its own style name, Oktoberfest. The truth, as previously stated, is that the beer of choice at the festival has changed repeatedly throughout the decades. Beginning in the 1990s, oktoberfest beers in Munich have trended toward drier, crisper, lighter and easy drinking golden versions that are usually marketed as wiesn, although the style of festbier that remains most popular in the U.S. is the predecessor of wiesn, known commonly as Oktoberfest or Marzen. The term Marzen refers to the month of March, when brewers would traditionally brew beer for the fall festival before lagering it for the summer months so that it would be ready to serve when the festival rolled around.
Oktoberfest marzens today are largely unchanged from their 19th century forebears. Boasting an alcohol range of approximately 5.5%-6.5% abv, expect a medium to full body with a fair amount of residual sugar. Traditionally, the beer would’ve been made using decoction or step mashing, that heats the mash gradually, thereby enhancing the sugars and malt flavors of the finished beer. Owing to its time consuming nature, decoction mashing is rarely done today though its effects are well worth the time and effort. The overall impression of an oktoberfest marzen is a rich and decadent, yet surprisingly easy to drink amber lager with hints of spice. The beer itself is a showcase for the delicious Vienna and Munich malts that comprise the bulk of the grist.
Due to the area’s large German immigrant population, Cincinnati hosts the world’s second largest Oktoberfest celebration every September. We also have no shortage of fantastic oktoberfests to choose from. Look out for Samuel Adams Oktoberfest, Paulaner Oktoberfest Marzen, Hi-Wire Zirkusfest, Ayinger Oktober Fest-Marzen, Weihenstephaner FestBier, and Sierra Nevada/Brauhaus Miltenberger. Prost!
You wouldn’t know it by stepping outside, but the summer is coming to a close. That didn’t stop hundreds of people from coming out to Jungle Jim’s in Fairfield to celebrate Ohio breweries at our second annual Buckeye Beer Bash, though! Awesome Ohio craft beer was flowing, the music was loud, and the food was delicious as all who gathered had an amazing time sampling beers from the Buckeye State.
We would like to thank all of the breweries and food trucks in attendance, as you all made the night one to remember, but we also want to thank all of YOU! Without you, devoted and adventurous craft beer lovers, this festival would be nothing. Thank you so much for attending, and we hope to see you next year!
Want to see the full photo gallery? Check it out on Events at the Jungle on Facebook!
Can’t wait for the next Jungle Jim’s beer festival? Join us for Fall Smash where we will be featuring ciders, pumpkin beers and local food trucks on October 21 from 3-7pm at our Fairfield location!
And keep an eye out for news about January’s Barrel Aged Beer Bash… it’s coming up faster than you think!
This past week we had the honor to talk to a few local breweries as well as one up in Cleveland about what they do, why they do it and how excited they are to return to Buckeye Beer Bash this weekend. We talked to Urban Artifact, MadTree Brewing, Municipal Brew Works, Rivertown Brewing and Fat Head's Brewery. Check out their thoughts about brewing in Ohio and what makes Buckeye Beer Bash so great to them below. If you haven't grabbed your tickets yet what are you waiting for! Let's kick back, relax, and send out the summer in style with Ohio beer! #drinklocal
Hops! These delicious little green cones of flavor have been the dominant bittering agent in virtually all beer for the last 600 years or so. First described botanically by Roman statesman Pliny the Elder, he named the plant Humulus lupulus, taking the species name from the Latin word for wolf. This was a nod to Pliny’s observation that, in the wild, hop bines tended to snake through existing foliage, moving among them like a wolf among sheep. The magic in hops that all brewers seek to extract is found at the core of the female hop flowers in the lupulin glands. These glands contain all the bittering, flavoring and aromatic oils and acids that have delighted beer drinkers for centuries.
Despite romantic notions of fields of bright green hop bines delicately trained up trellises patiently awaiting harvest so that they may find their way into your beer, the reality is more complicated and not quite as glamorous. The truth is that those green little hop cones are fragile. They don’t travel well and their shelf life is pretty short. Thus, the overwhelming majority of breweries make beer with hop pellets, little brownish kernels that are created from harvested whole cone hops. Hop pellets so dominate modern brewing that the handful of breweries who use whole cone hops, such as Victory and Sierra Nevada, advertise their use of cones since they believe the cones yield a superior beer. While the jury is still out on whether whole cone hops are better, there’s no debate that hop pellets are far from perfect. Sure, they’re fairly affordable and easy to work with, but the heat needed to create the pellets destroys a lot of the volatile oils that define a hop’s character. Additionally, hopping with pellets (or cones, for that matter) decreases beer yield by absorbing beer like sponges. The other drawback to pellets and cones alike is that they may impart undesirable leafy and vegetal notes from the greenery of the plant. Remember, it’s the oils at the center of the cone that brewers are looking for.
This is where lupulin powder comes in. There’s a new proprietary process that promises to deliver the best of all worlds with no foreseeable downsides. The powder is created from whole cone hops without any heat, thus preserving the delicate hop oils. Lupulin powder producers also claim that this new process of turning hops into a usable powder also eliminates any vegetal notes, leaving behind more pure hop flavors. Additionally, lupulin powder (also called dust) increases beer yield by as much as 5% since it has no sponge like properties that would soak up precious beer. Lupulin powder is an extremely new trend but the handful of professional brewers who have worked with it are in love. They corroborate all the manufacturer’s claims. We may very well be on the precipice of a major leap forward in beer production, with brewers now able to churn out higher volumes of beer with more precise, pure aromas and flavors with cleaner, brighter bitterness. We’ll have to wait patiently to see commercial examples readily available but keep your ear to the ground when it comes to Lupulin powder. It’s poised to revolutionize the beer world. Cheers!
Fairfield - Bells Brewery
“Our journey began with a 15-gallon soup kettle, a quest for better beer and countless batches of homebrew. The passion and personality that began Bell’s continues today through our breweries and Eccentric Café. We continue to grow and evolve, dedicated to our mission; to be fiercely independent, 100% family owned, deeply rooted to our community, committed to the environment and brewers of inspired beer.”
Bell’s beer that you will be able to try on Friday include: Oberon Pale Wheat Ale, Quinonnon Falls Lager, Le Controbissiste Biere de Garde Strong Pale Ale, Porter, Two Hearted IPA, and possibly more!
Eastgate - Listermann Brewing Company
About Listermann Brewing Company
Listermann Brewing was founded by husband and wife Dan and Sue Listermann. Dan began manufacturing home brew parts and shipping them throughout the country in 1991. Listermann Brewing operated as a home brew store until 2008 when they acquired a 2BBL brew system and they started making their own beer. From there Listermann has been making award winning beers for years! If you want to get the history right from Dan Listermann they’ve got a great story on their website.
Listermann beer that you will be able to try on Friday include: Pinkies Out Chardonnay NE Style Pale Ale, Team Fiona NE IPA, Don't Talk Sh*t About Norwood Pale Ale, and possibly more!
On October 21, we’re getting our festival on at BOTH Jungle Jim’s locations with two very different, but equally flavor-filled events!
Jungle Jim’s Fall Smash - Along with the weather, fall flavors can be just as intense. We’re celebrating both with our third annual Fall Smash! Hard cider, pumpkin beer and local food trucks will take over the Greenhouse at our Fairfield location for a full day of food and revelry. Food trucks from all over the area will be set-up and ready to go at 11:00 AM and will be here until 7:00 PM, then we’ll get things started inside the Greenhouse at 3:00 PM sharp. We’ll have some live entertainment, too. Let’s have some fun!
What’s the other fest? Head here to check out Jungle Jim’s Taste of the Sea!