These go back to the origins of the original Munich Oktoberfest which was first held in October 1810 to celebrate the marriage between Crown Prince Ludwig of Bavaria (later to become King Ludwig I) and Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen. Since then the “Oktoberfump” (as it was originally known) has moved its date to start in late September and runs until early October.
In 2008 the Munich Oktoberfest welcomed over six million visitors who consumed some one and three quarter million pints of fine Bavarian lagers, accompanied by over a hundred roast oxen!
The festival actually starts at noon on September 20th when the Lord Mayor of Munich ‘taps’ a keg of Oktoberfestbier from the 600 year old ‘Spaten’ brewery and announces “O’zapft is!” – “it’s tapped!”. So I thought it would be appropriate to review this year’s offering from Spaten.
Traditionally Oktoberfest beers were ‘Marzen’ beers, brewed in the spring and then ‘lagered’ through the summer ready for consumption in the autumn. But on initial pouring it was apparent that this ain’t a Marzen, they’re usually a distinctive burnished gold colour, closer to a ‘Vienna’ lager than a pale pilsner, this is a pale gold.
When Scott reviewed Spaten’s Oktoberfest Bier last year he described it as “kind of a dark golden color” and that (despite his spelling of the word colour) is what I was expecting. Quite frankly, this looked as though someone else had already consumed it and (ahem) recycled it.
There was no nose to speak of, and while the head was full and frothy it soon subsided leaving a distinctly average beer. There was a reasonable malty flavour hiding away in the background, but what was missing was any hoppy ‘bite’ to balance that malty sweetness.
I was, like Scott “unimpressed”.
The Spaten Oktoberfest is brewed to a respectable 5.9% ABV, but frankly, I think if I was looking for a stronger lager, then I’d probably head for Carlsberg Elephant.
But I’d more likely stick with a good 5% lager like Staropramen and maybe have a second one!