In search of less sweet Marzen/Oktoberfest

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by wpstafford, Sep 3, 2021.

  1. wpstafford

    wpstafford Initiate (91) Sep 24, 2008 Delaware

    I've never been a big fan of the marzen / oktoberfest styles because to me they taste very sweet. However, I'm willing to give them another shot. Can anyone provide some suggestions for this style that are on the lower end of the sweetness scale? I had a Victory Festbier over the weekend that surprised me because it wasn't nearly as sweet as I was expecting it to be and very enjoyable which inspired me give this style another opportunity, Thanks!
     
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  2. jonphisher

    jonphisher Defender (610) Aug 9, 2015 New Jersey
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  3. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (5,118) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
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    As has been suggested above give some German brewed versions a try but make sure you check dates before purchasing. Plenty of non-fresh German brewed Oktoberfest beers out there.

    Since you live in Delaware I have one strong suggestion for you: Sly Fox Oktoberfest.

    Cheers!
     
  4. TongoRad

    TongoRad Poo-Bah (2,937) Jun 3, 2004 New Jersey
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    There's definitely a difference between malty and sweet, and great Oktoberfests are malty; meaning that they initially hit you with a concentrated malt quality, perhaps even teasing a dessert like sweetness, but finish decidedly dry.

    There's also a difference between the complex melanoidin quality (related to the Maillard effect) and straightforward caramel flavor; brewers who use caramel malt as a shortcut will never hit the mark.

    Like others have posted, most German imports get these aspects correct, whereas with American craft brewers it's still a real crapshoot.
     
  5. miwestcoaster

    miwestcoaster Meyvn (1,466) Jan 19, 2013 Michigan

    Picked up 24 of Hofbrau Octoberfestbier from Costco yesterday. Dated 08 22. :beers:
     
  6. dcotom

    dcotom Poo-Bah (2,792) Aug 4, 2014 Iowa
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    I had the 2021 SN Oktoberfest on tap a couple of weeks ago, and one of the characteristics I noted in my review was that I didn't pick up much sweetness at all. Give that one a try if you haven't already. (As always, YMMV.)
     
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  7. Grounder

    Grounder Initiate (105) Jun 20, 2019 Illinois

    That's great news, because here in IL I have not seen any Hofbrau and was starting to worry. Did your Costco have any other Okto imports?
     
  8. SFACRKnight

    SFACRKnight Poo-Bah (1,880) Jan 20, 2012 Colorado
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    Surprised nobody has mentioned that the festbiers are usually less malt forward than the marzens. Go for the lighter and happier festbiers when available.
     
  9. steveh

    steveh Poo-Bah (3,091) Oct 8, 2003 Illinois
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    But the OP was asking about Marzens (US definition) specifically.

    Although, I *do* like a happy Festbier. :grin:
     
  10. steveh

    steveh Poo-Bah (3,091) Oct 8, 2003 Illinois
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    Bravo. End the thread here. :clap:
     
  11. SFACRKnight

    SFACRKnight Poo-Bah (1,880) Jan 20, 2012 Colorado
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    Except he said Marzen/oktoberfest style beers which led me to believe that festbier could be recommended as it is a style of oktoberfest bier. :sunglasses::sunglasses::sunglasses:
     
  12. miwestcoaster

    miwestcoaster Meyvn (1,466) Jan 19, 2013 Michigan

    I went to Costco looking for Paulaner which they had in 2020. No other imports. SA Octoberfest by the case was the only other Fest sku.
     
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  13. steveh

    steveh Poo-Bah (3,091) Oct 8, 2003 Illinois
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    Yeah, I guess he should have said "Oktoberfest Marzen" if he was following the import labels, but he/she's an initiate. :wink:

    I guess it's all open to interpretation until the OP clarifies.

    Or is this another one-and-done?
     
    #13 steveh, Sep 3, 2021
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2021
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  14. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (5,118) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
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    Ah, the ongoing ‘debate’ on what an Oktoberfest beer is.

    You can read one man’s viewpoint on this topic at the below linked article.

    For those who prefer to not read articles and instead want quick answers, a snippet from the linked article:
    • Amber Oktoberfest (or Märzen)
    • Pale Oktoberfest (or sometimes called Festbier)
    https://www.morebeer.com/articles/Oktoberfest_Beer

    Prost!
     
  15. DrStiffington

    DrStiffington Meyvn (1,209) Oct 27, 2010 New Jersey

    I enjoyed the Weihenstephaner so far this year. I tend to like the paler Oktoberfest beers over the darker ones (although those will do in a pinch).
     
  16. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (5,118) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
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    Me too! I have consumed a number of bottles of Weihenstephaner Festbier over the past week(s); it is an enjoyable summer weather drinking beer.

    Now that we have entered September and while it is still warm it is notably cooler than the 90+ degree days we had recently my thoughts of drinking Amber Oktoberfest beers is strong. This weekend I will be buying the Amber Oktoberfest beers from Sly Fox and Mainstay. :beers:

    Cheers!
     
  17. jonphisher

    jonphisher Defender (610) Aug 9, 2015 New Jersey
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    Did you grab Bonesaw yet? Plan to open my new beers, which includes that one, starting tomorrow.


    Weihenstephan is also my favorite but paulaner fest is a close second this year. Not in NJ, I grabbed a four pack while out of state.
     
  18. Amendm

    Amendm Savant (969) Jun 7, 2018 Rhode Island
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    Beat me to it. Another vote for look for "Festbier" as apposed to "Marzen" on the label or description.
     
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  19. DrStiffington

    DrStiffington Meyvn (1,209) Oct 27, 2010 New Jersey

    Haven’t seen it yet but will be on the lookout. Got Counter Weight festbier up in CT. It’s another terrific lighter Oktoberfest but I figure the OP won’t be able to get it.
     
  20. realJohnnyHobo

    realJohnnyHobo Devotee (450) Sep 18, 2019 Maryland

    I see you're a fellow DMV/ DelMarva local. Typically all lagers will have an inherent sweetness, and as a marzen is within the style of bottom fermented lagers giving a bready sweetness. That said, you have plenty of options - Dogtoberfest from Flying Dog, Yuenglings Oktroberfest (not the best), the other endless mid-atlantic offerings. For me I think Bells or Sierra Nevada has the best Americanized traditional examples in 2021 out of the 8 I have had with Bitburger and Hofbaruhas Munchen taking the crown for the best best fest style I tried.
     
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  21. Grounder

    Grounder Initiate (105) Jun 20, 2019 Illinois

    One thing you can try is looking for Oktos from breweries that specialize in IPA and pils. Sometimes they just can't help themselves and toss that extra helping of hops into the traditional styles.
     
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  22. crazyspicychef

    crazyspicychef Aspirant (283) Sep 27, 2012 Pennsylvania

    Victory Festbier.
    Very true to the actual German Fest style beers, not a Märzen.
    Light golden with a beautiful hop balance.
    Top notch stuff.
    If available in your area
     
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  23. jonphisher

    jonphisher Defender (610) Aug 9, 2015 New Jersey
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    @crazyspicychef great minds drink alike, from OPs post…

     
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  24. steveh

    steveh Poo-Bah (3,091) Oct 8, 2003 Illinois
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    Skimmed the OP, din't ya? :wink::grin:
     
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  25. realJohnnyHobo

    realJohnnyHobo Devotee (450) Sep 18, 2019 Maryland


    This would be the counter-opposite of a marzen... why would you want that?
     
  26. realJohnnyHobo

    realJohnnyHobo Devotee (450) Sep 18, 2019 Maryland


    Ah.... all festbiers are marzens. They share the same title because "Märzen is also a strength designation of German beer so there is some potential conflation of terminology here. In Bavaria, by law any beer called Märzen has to have an original gravity of at least 13.5° Plato. Elsewhere in Germany it's 13° Plato."

    https://www.morebeer.com/articles/Oktoberfest_Beer
     
  27. UrbanCaveman

    UrbanCaveman Crusader (702) Sep 30, 2014 Ohio
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    Go ahead, crush my dreams of having a marzenbock.
     
  28. MNAle

    MNAle Poo-Bah (2,187) Sep 6, 2011 Minnesota
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    And, of course, all brewers - even the German ones - follow Bavarian law when labeling their beers here. :wink:
     
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  29. Grounder

    Grounder Initiate (105) Jun 20, 2019 Illinois

    Because OP asked for less sweet which to me is the same as more bitter?
    As to why... I dunno, why do people go gaga over overhopped pilsners and Vienna lagers?
     
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  30. steveh

    steveh Poo-Bah (3,091) Oct 8, 2003 Illinois
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    Hop Generation. :wink:
     
  31. MNAle

    MNAle Poo-Bah (2,187) Sep 6, 2011 Minnesota
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    The opposite of sweet (in beer tasting) is dry.
     
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  32. steveh

    steveh Poo-Bah (3,091) Oct 8, 2003 Illinois
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    Paulaner's Festbier doesn't mention Marzen anywhere on their (US) label, but their Oktoberfest does. :slight_smile:

    @zid -- c'mon down! :grin:
     
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  33. jonphisher

    jonphisher Defender (610) Aug 9, 2015 New Jersey
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    I do have to question this assessment though :thinking_face: I stole from the FB page, my pictures from last year are long gone.

    [​IMG]
     
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  34. realJohnnyHobo

    realJohnnyHobo Devotee (450) Sep 18, 2019 Maryland

    Well since anything coming from Germany sold as a beer has to... i'd assume at least half of your statement is true.
     
  35. steveh

    steveh Poo-Bah (3,091) Oct 8, 2003 Illinois
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    Covering all the bases -- AND abiding by Munich law. :wink:
     
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  36. realJohnnyHobo

    realJohnnyHobo Devotee (450) Sep 18, 2019 Maryland

    Within the style? You wouldn't recommend hoppy as the next alternative as within the style malt is king. I cannot relate a pilsner to a marzen because of that very difference.
     
  37. realJohnnyHobo

    realJohnnyHobo Devotee (450) Sep 18, 2019 Maryland

    GERMAN. Not just the state of Bavaria... why are you commenting on german beers, you seem like you lack a proficient understanding of the things you're saying.
     
  38. MNAle

    MNAle Poo-Bah (2,187) Sep 6, 2011 Minnesota
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    Hard to enforce Bavarian law in the USA. The German beers intended for export to the USA are labeled for the intended market. Note the discussion in another thread about the various labels on Ayinger "fest" beers.
     
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  39. MNAle

    MNAle Poo-Bah (2,187) Sep 6, 2011 Minnesota
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    :popcorn:
     
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  40. steveh

    steveh Poo-Bah (3,091) Oct 8, 2003 Illinois
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    Please note use of emoticons before assuming a lack of proficiency.
     
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