Bitburger Brewery Releases Festbier

Discussion in 'Beer News & Releases' started by M-Fox24, Jul 22, 2020.

  1. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (4,655) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
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    I took note that you specified "...Bavarian brewers stubbornly clinging to the past...". Are the German brewers in other areas of Germany more open to change?

    Cheers!
     
  2. Jacobier10

    Jacobier10 Poo-Bah (2,344) Feb 23, 2004 New Jersey
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    The main problem is that over time oxidation starts to rear its ugly head and the beer becomes stale. I stock up on German import Oktoberfests each year and even when they are kept refrigerated, I find that by November or so (depending on when they were packaged) the flavor begins to fall off. Still drinkable, but not the same beer as when I initially purchased them.
     
  3. Snowcrash000

    Snowcrash000 Poo-Bah (3,123) Oct 4, 2017 Germany
    Moderator Society Trader

    Well, we are talking about a quintessentially Bavarian style here, so naturally I specified Bavarian brewers. I do think that Bavaria generally tends to live a bit more in the past than the rest of Germany though.
     
  4. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (4,655) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
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    Useful input. Thanks.

    Cheers!
     
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  5. honkey

    honkey Disciple (333) Aug 28, 2010 Arizona
    Brewery Trader

    I'd bet that the reason these beers are packaged early has more to do with the difficulty of importing and making sure they're not running against a deadline trying to get the beer to market, or potentially missing getting the beer to market. I don't think there's a reason related to the quality of the beer and in fact, the textbook that I reference that was published for VLB Berlin and also used at Doemens in Munich suggests that long lagering times of more than 5 weeks is detrimental to beer. I can't imagine that German brewers are doing something that they believe to be detrimental just for the tradition of it when we have modern refrigeration systems keeping these beers lagered cooler than would have been possible in caves 150 years ago.
     
  6. StoutElk_92

    StoutElk_92 Poo-Bah (2,857) Oct 30, 2015 Massachusetts
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    In this case it shouldn't be too big of a problem since they probably don't want Oktoberfestbiers sticking around all year long since it is a seasonal festival. It might be a good thing to clear the shelves around November and stick to the fresher year-round Märzens or Vienna lagers or similar styles until the following Oktoberfest. It seems winter is the only season for their brewers to not have to think about the Oktoberfest since they won't have to brew it until the spring, though they might be sourcing ingredients for it if not already acquired.
     
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  7. Crusader

    Crusader Disciple (329) Feb 4, 2011 Sweden

    The Munich Oktoberfest beers sold here are bottled late june or mid/late july when they launch here on September 1st. One year there was a new batch from August put on the shelf of either Löwenbräu or Spaten, I can't recall which, after the june/july batch was gone.
     
  8. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (4,655) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
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    For the case of Bitburger they bottled their Festbier the end of April and I suspect I won't see this beer on my local beer retailers' shelves until sometime next month (August). You don't think this is "detrimental"?

    Cheers!
     
  9. honkey

    honkey Disciple (333) Aug 28, 2010 Arizona
    Brewery Trader

    I do believe that's detrimental but I also believe that they think their only other option is to not sell the beer in the USA. This is the first time they've released it right? If so, they might be a longer process than their normal rotation of beers that already have label approval, have gone through ABV testing at an approved lab, or gotten SKU approval from however many distributors they have.
     
  10. TongoRad

    TongoRad Poo-Bah (2,799) Jun 3, 2004 New Jersey
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    A ways back I was talking to a brewer regarding seasonals, and the topic of Oktoberfests came up. This was on the verge of Pumpkin beers becoming a big thing. Essentially his opinion was that you don't want to have an Oktoberfest on the shelf come November 1st, because they'll never sell after that. And the corollary was that Pumpkin beers would sell through December. No wonder for a while there at least, many craft brewers were pushing the latter rather than the former.
     
  11. StoutElk_92

    StoutElk_92 Poo-Bah (2,857) Oct 30, 2015 Massachusetts
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    And I'm the opposite, I want pumpkin beers from Sep-Nov and I could drink a märzen or festbier year-round. Of course I don't want a year old one though, so I look for similar styles like maybe altbier/copper ale, a malty Vienna or märzen style if I can find one. It makes it more special I guess to have the "festbier" a once a year annual release.
     
  12. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (4,655) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
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    Yes, this is the first time for Bitburger Festbier I believe. But the MO of German breweries brewing their Oktoberfest beers in the spring has been a long standing thing. By the time I purchased these beers they were already many months old and in the recent past I purchased German brewed Oktoberfest beers that were bottled in February. It seems like quite a 'disconnect' regardless of export/transportation considerations.

    And @Snowcrash000 who lives in Germany posted above: "From what I remember from last year, all the Oktoberfest stuff was already 4-6 months old when it came out in September."

    Cheers!
     
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  13. Crusader

    Crusader Disciple (329) Feb 4, 2011 Sweden

    All of the beer that was going to be sold from May first (start of summer beer/Märzen beer season) until the start of the new brewing season in late september was Märzenbier, and they started brewing and cellaring beer already in December, continuing into the spring until the cellars were sufficiently full/they weren't allowed to brew any longer. As per the Bavarian brewing literature from the 1800s that I have read the standard procedure was to have the beer that was to be stored the longest be brewed in December/January when the weather and cellars were the coldest, not in March. Storing/lagering beer from December to September/October of the following year might seem absurd nowadays when a "lager beer" can be aged a couple of weeks, but such was the practise in Bavaria. Then came the ice cellars by the mid 1800s, the allowing of beer brewing all year round (summer time brewing) and lastly artificial refridgeration which soon made these long storage times a thing of the past (though the history would not be forgotten entirely by all, courtesty of @jesskidden).
     
  14. zid

    zid Meyvn (1,203) Feb 15, 2010 New York
    Trader

    Pic below from Nov 14th 2019. This is one reason why the beers get to the shelves when they get to the shelves. Brewers of beers like this are probably not too keen on exporting product with only a 2 month sales window.

    Everybody in this thread has options they like for Oktoberfest season. Personally, I'd take the below on Nov 14th with or without the discount over 99% of fresher American options. There are alternatives for other folks who want something different.

    [​IMG]
     
    #94 zid, Jul 23, 2020
    Last edited: Jul 23, 2020
  15. TongoRad

    TongoRad Poo-Bah (2,799) Jun 3, 2004 New Jersey
    Society Trader

    From a consumer's point of view, hell yeah I'd take it too! And that's what smart retailers will do to move what's 'left over' while it's still good.
     
  16. keithmurray

    keithmurray Meyvn (1,394) Oct 7, 2009 Connecticut

    I was skeptical before trying the Sly Fox Marzen for myself in fall of 2018. I was pleasantly surprised by how damned good it was, dare I have the audacity to say that it holds its own versus some of the German imported Marzens - its that good and I wish I could purchase it in my area.
     
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  17. steveh

    steveh Poo-Bah (2,708) Oct 8, 2003 Illinois
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    They do, but your local distro has to make it available to the retailers. Mine doesn't -- @grantcty has one in Minnesota that does. :confused:
    That's the Wiesn Fest Spaten brews for the fest. You'll notice they don't mention the Amber Märzen that's exported to the U.S.
     
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  18. steveh

    steveh Poo-Bah (2,708) Oct 8, 2003 Illinois
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    I've heard the same thing from retailers, but they tell me it's because the customers all turn off the urge when it's no longer "Oktober."

    Good years are when there is a lot left over and the retailers put it on sale -- I bought the crap out of Paulaner and HB Wiesn a couple years ago because one retailer had it for $8 a six thru December. :slight_smile:
     
  19. officerbill

    officerbill Zealot (554) Feb 9, 2019 New York
    Society Trader

    Thanks, I should have mentioned that what they serve isn't the same as what they export.
     
    #99 officerbill, Jul 23, 2020
    Last edited: Jul 23, 2020
    steveh likes this.
  20. bsp77

    bsp77 Poo-Bah (2,330) Apr 27, 2008 Minnesota
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    I just caved and bought my first Oktoberfest of the season. Well, sorta. It was Erdinger. Bottled in April.
     
  21. steveh

    steveh Poo-Bah (2,708) Oct 8, 2003 Illinois
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    And, it's a Weizen isn't it? Erdinger started jumping on the bandwagon back in the late 90s, but they still don't let them in the tents. :wink:
     
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  22. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (4,655) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
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    No need to "dare" with me. For my palate Sly Fox Oktoberfest is indeed better than the German imports. A combination of high quality brewing and it is fresh to boot. A classic win-win IMO. :slight_smile:

    Cheers!
     
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  23. bsp77

    bsp77 Poo-Bah (2,330) Apr 27, 2008 Minnesota
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    Yeah, it is essentially an Amber Hefeweizen with elevated abv, at 5.7%
     
  24. steveh

    steveh Poo-Bah (2,708) Oct 8, 2003 Illinois
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    It's a good Weizen, a friend and I were served it by mistake at a tavern in Munich once -- but we didn't turn it back.

    Still not my idea of an Oktoberfest Bier.
     
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  25. bsp77

    bsp77 Poo-Bah (2,330) Apr 27, 2008 Minnesota
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    Of course it isn't, which is why I said "sorta". I just like getting a slightly unique, somewhat fresh Hefe from Germany. And the malt has a titch of that Marzen taste. Just a titch.
     
  26. steveh

    steveh Poo-Bah (2,708) Oct 8, 2003 Illinois
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    Did you get glassware? A couple years ago they were selling a set of 2 bottles and 2 branded Weizen glasses.
     
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  27. bsp77

    bsp77 Poo-Bah (2,330) Apr 27, 2008 Minnesota
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    No. Just a standard sixer. I have a couple nice Weizen glasses
     
  28. jesskidden

    jesskidden Poo-Bah (2,077) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey
    Society Trader

    It's not so much when they brew the beers, it's when they bottle it and, one assumes for most of the large firms, pasteurize it (and those that don't likely heavily filter the beer). If German brewers are brewing their Oktoberfest/Fest/Marzen for their local market in March to be "traditional", that's fine. If they long lager it through the summer - hey, even more traditional.

    BUT, in the case of the bottles exported to the US, they are - apparently - packaging it in the last spring after a typical, modern short lagering period (based on the typical 1 year "Best by" dating) and all that extra time is NOT lagering, but an allowance for the long lead times for shipping the beer to the European port, ocean transport and then further shipping from the US docks to the US importer and/or then to their local distributors.

    As MillerCoors' now defunct Date Code pdf used to explain the much longer shelf life periods they gave their imported beers vs. their US-brewed brands:
    * They gave Pilsner Urquell (the best known example) 9 months - wouldn't be surprised if some other of their Euro brands were the more typical 1 year.

    This current beer geek concept that only well-hopped beers need to be fresh misunderstands beer freshness. The US macro brewers with their flagship and light beers with little to no hops (and little in the way of maltiness, as well) still use 3-4 months as the shelf life of most of their beers.
     
  29. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (4,655) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
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    And to re-enforce what you posted there, IMO a brewery like AB has top notch QC/QA practices in their brewing process. If any brewery could optimize beer shelf life for lagers it would be them.

    A beer like an Oktoberfest lager is not intended to be consumed many months after packaging.

    Cheers!
     
  30. ManBearPat

    ManBearPat Devotee (494) Dec 2, 2014 Colorado

    Prost’s is a beautiful burnt orange this year fwiw
     
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  31. honkey

    honkey Disciple (333) Aug 28, 2010 Arizona
    Brewery Trader

    @JackHorzempa sent me a link to a Youtube video about Beck's brewing process a while back (). One thing that stood out to me as being very surprising was that pasteurization of their bottles at the time of this video took almost an hour with the bottles being exposed to the highest temperature for 20 minutes. They must have been targeting a VERY high level of pasteurization. I wonder if European breweries do this regularly to this day and if that is one of the reasons they give a longer shelf life than BMC who have equally good (or better) quality control as anyone.
     
  32. EmperorBatman

    EmperorBatman Initiate (126) Mar 16, 2018 District of Columbia

    There is a beer garden in the area that has both Spaten and Tucher Festbier on draft. With it being 100 degrees and humid here, I think I’ll pass on the early Festbier this time of year.
     
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  33. steveh

    steveh Poo-Bah (2,708) Oct 8, 2003 Illinois
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    Tucher? Another Weizen marketing ploy? :wink:

    I see the Festival Bier at their website -- never seen that one available. ISO.
     
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  34. unlikelyspiderperson

    unlikelyspiderperson Meyvn (1,480) Mar 12, 2013 California
    Society Trader

    Well I think that the input of @honkey and @jesskidden has "solved" this question for me. Ensuring that you are able to overcome physical and licensing barriers in time to get your product on shelves early rather than late seems like a very logical reason to brew these beers so early.

    I will say that its a true testament to the skill of German brewers that the few imports I try each year are superior beers to most of the us brewed examples I try
     
  35. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (4,655) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
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    I am very sorry to hear about what is available to you as regards US brewed Oktoberfest beers. In my area I have a totally opposite situation and I feel very fortunate in this regard.

    Cheers!
     
  36. GetMeAnIPA

    GetMeAnIPA Defender (649) Mar 28, 2009 California

    Bitburger and festbier! I am in!!!
     
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  37. unlikelyspiderperson

    unlikelyspiderperson Meyvn (1,480) Mar 12, 2013 California
    Society Trader

    Ya you are in a bit of a beer paradise, especially if you enjoy more traditional euro styles. I'm in what I would consider a below average beer market, which mostly just means I have to rely on sparse and older imports if I want to get good examples.of some classic styles. It does get better every year though. We ate all lucky to live in such rich times for US beer
     
  38. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (4,655) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
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    And let's all celebrate that! :slight_smile:

    Cheers!
     
  39. officerbill

    officerbill Zealot (554) Feb 9, 2019 New York
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    Really? Which breweries are you buying? I'm in what I would consider a beer desert and most of the available US beers are better tasting than the available German beers.
     
  40. unlikelyspiderperson

    unlikelyspiderperson Meyvn (1,480) Mar 12, 2013 California
    Society Trader

    Last year, for us versions i had access to the sierra Nevada collab (good but arguably not or barely us brewed), sudwerks (good and at least on the level of imports, better than many), dustbowl (terrible), a local that doesn't package any beer called Gypo Ale Mill who's version was also very.good, and I think that's about it

    The west coast, south of Portland metro, has a very limited history of brewers focused on traditional euro styles and a huge beer culture rooted in modern hoppy ales
     
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