The Seasons Change, The Beer Remains Delicious

oktoberfest 2012Is it fall now? Society as a whole basically says Labor Day denotes when summer ends, if not when fall starts. Particularly in the Northeast where schools mostly start right after Labor Day. Back to school, last summer holiday, now it’s fall? Fall is the best season but I steadfastly remain a ‘September is still summer’ member. I went apple picking in mid-September a few years ago and it was 90 degrees and we all melted and my kid had a fever the whole time that we didn’t realize until we got somewhere cooler. No wonder she was dragging her feet.

We know the beer seasons are all screwed up, tied to distribution and seasonal tap space. I read a story a few years ago that basically explained seasonal creep as the bigger guys like Sam Adams making sure Octoberfest was available when Summer Ale ran out so they didn’t lose the tap handle in bars. So we literally drank the summer away..but fall doesn’t really start until the equinox, which is September 23rd at 7:50 UTC. That’s Monday. If you want to say fall starts at noon Munich time, on Saturday the 21st, I’ll allow it. 

Oktoberfest. I have very fond memories of my time there in 2012, and I’ve been a lover of the style for even longer. I mentioned that bought a case of Sierra Nevada’s for an early August birthday party, and you shouldn’t be surprised that it’s long gone. The remains of summer? I spent a lot of September finishing those off. Now, fall for real. 

The Märzen style, which can vary from gold to light copper in color and flavor, is a delicious one. Deliciously malty. Not a hophead? Try Märzenbier! Biscuity and caramely notes are usually prevalent. This is one of those styles that really nails the ‘liquid bread’ moniker. I’ve had just about every different one I can get my hands on. I make a point around this time of year, last Monday this year, to go into a shop that sells singles and buy every Oktoberfest I’ve never had. It gets harder and harder, but there are always a few. Then I load up on old favorites. 

Something I’ve noticed this year is that two of my favorites, Sam Adams Octoberfest and Brooklyn Oktoberfest, came across a little sweeter than I remember. My palate perhaps is changing more than I’d realized, though I have to admit by the time I got to the second, and third, Brooklyn bottle out of the 6-pack I’d bought, It was just as good as I remembered. I’m not sure there’s any beer more appropriate to drink in volume as an Oktoberfest. 

 

To summarize: 

-It’s not really fall until AT LEAST the opening of Oktoberfest in Munich.

-Don’t be afraid to finish off those summer beers.

-Oktoberfests are delicious and you should consume them en masse, or en Maß, the traditional measurement of for the amount of beer in an Oktoberfest mug. 

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Volksfest: Drinking German Beer In The Sun

Out on Long Island, at a place called Plattduetsche Park, there are frequently German heritage festivals. One of these happened this past weekend, the 135th Plattduetsche Volksfest. There’s a parade, there’s plenty of German food, vendors, balloon animals, bounce houses, music, and of course, beer. I did mention this was a German peoples’ festival right?

 

It was hot, as per summer. Erdinger had flyers out with a special, five beers for $18 in an ice-filled bucket. I opted for that, trusting it to be fresh and clean, over something like 2017’s Oktoberfest from Hacker-Pschorr.

The Erdinger Summer Weisse is a new beer from Erdinger, I can’t say I’ve ever had strong feelings about any of their other offerings, but I did find this one a perfect fit for the environment. It comes in at a light 4.6% ABV and is still flavorful.  It’s got some mild bitterness to it, the wheat isn’t too heavy, and there are some good fruity citrus notes to it that keep it crisp and refreshing.

 

When the long tables feature a constantly refilling set of bottles and pitchers as everyone takes a beer, pours a beer, or goes to get another pitcher, it’s nice to have something that goes down so easy, and in this case was ice cold thanks to the bucket.

 

The next person to buy a pitcher got the Krombacher Pils, which is a perfectly serviceable beer, particularly for the hot summer months, but I just find pilsners a little too plain for my preference and I don’t enjoy the sulfur notes that typically accompany German ones. Another problem with beers like that is that they skunk in the hot sun way too easily. Perhaps I’m drinking too slowly, or simply become more aware of the flavor, but I could practically see the light skunking the pilsner as I was drinking it, unlike the summer weisse that I kept in the dark bottle.

photo by Ceetar
Hop oils being converted into skunk aroma.

After an enjoyable afternoon drinking beer and eating potato pancakes and bratwurst, we went home where I drank roughly three gallons of water to recover from the heat and alcohol. I got the kids to bed, and then I cracked open an IPA and enjoyed it in my comfortable climate controlled home.

 

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