Like so much else this year, the world’s largest celebration of beer was canceled. The Volksfest known as Oktoberfest isn’t happening in Munich this year. Here’s what occurred to me: At least you don’t have to go all the way to Germany to enjoy the signature beer style that’s served at the event.
In fact, it just might be a short (Uber) ride away.
Oktoberfest is a Marzen lager beer. It’s traditionally brewed in March (“Marzen”) and aged (or laagered) through the summer to before being served at the fall festival. It’s a tad stronger than the Vienna-style lager it’s based on. Oktoberfest is malt forward and has toasted bread or biscuit characteristics. There’s usually a minor refreshing hop bite at the end that really makes it a perfect pairing to the rich foods of Oktoberfest.
A Very Big Wedding
The event started in 1810 as a big, public, royal wedding reception. It grew to become the icon of Bavarian culture: Bratwurst, dirndl (female dress), Lederhosen, horse races, and parades. Revelers consume about 7 million liters of Augustiner, Hacker-Pschorr, Paulaner, Hofbrau, Lowenbrau, and Spaten beer during the 16-to-18-day event!
Lagers to Yodel About
With all of that tradition you wouldn’t expect that a bunch of surfers from the Jersey Shore could create a first-rate Oktoberfest beer. Still, that’s just what Last Wave Brewing (Point Pleasant Beach) did. They traded their board shorts for Lederhosen and cranked out a traditional Oktoberfest with all the malt sweetness, biscuit notes, and noble hop snap of the original. Deep copper in color, Stoke Harvest is a treat for the eyes and the taste buds.
Heading north, Bradley Brew Project (Bradley Beach) has created a noteworthy example as well. Some Munich Oktoberfest beers are a bit lighter in color and Bradley Brew’s I Came Over to Celebrate fits that style. It still has a rich, smooth, malty mouthfeel but there is a distinct crack of hops at the end. It would be a nice partner for spaetzle and lighter dishes.
Oktoberfest Al Fresco
Of course, nothing beats enjoying an Oktoberfest beer outside under a tent in the crisp, dry fall weather. If that’s your plan, I’d book a 90-minute session next weekend at Little Dog Brewing’s (Neptune) outside tented seating area. If there is one thing that Little Dog does great (and there are many) it’s German style lagers. Oktoberhund Lager is the star of the show but flights of other popular German styles are available, too. Souvenir steins and hats complete the party!
Book a table here:
The great lager revival seems to be picking up steam here in the Garden State. I’ll bet there’s some great Oktoberfest lager right around the corner from you.
Bradley Brew Project (bradleybrew.com)
714 Main Street
Bradley Beach, NJ
Last Wave Brewing (lastwavebrewing.com)
601 Bay Avenue
Point Pleasant Beach, NJ 08742
Little Dog Brewing (littledogbrewing.com)
141 Steiner Avenue
Neptune City, NJ 07753