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 (634) Aug 9, 2015 New Jersey
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  3. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (5,134) 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 (2,945) 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 Poo-Bah (1,784) Jan 19, 2013 Michigan
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    Picked up 24 of Hofbrau Octoberfestbier from Costco yesterday. Dated 08 22. :beers:
     
  6. dcotom

    dcotom Poo-Bah (2,809) 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 (108) 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 (1,891) 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 (3,150) Oct 8, 2003 Illinois
    Society

    But the OP was asking about Marzens (US definition) specifically.

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

    steveh Poo-Bah (3,150) Oct 8, 2003 Illinois
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    Bravo. End the thread here. :clap:
     
  11. SFACRKnight

    SFACRKnight Poo-Bah (1,891) 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 Poo-Bah (1,784) Jan 19, 2013 Michigan
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    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 (3,150) 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 (5,134) 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 (1,229) 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 (5,134) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Society

    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 (634) Aug 9, 2015 New Jersey
    Trader

    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 (983) Jun 7, 2018 Rhode Island
    Society

    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 (1,229) 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. Grounder

    Grounder Initiate (108) 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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  21. crazyspicychef

    crazyspicychef Aspirant (285) 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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  22. jonphisher

    jonphisher Defender (634) Aug 9, 2015 New Jersey
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    @crazyspicychef great minds drink alike, from OPs post…

     
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  23. steveh

    steveh Poo-Bah (3,150) Oct 8, 2003 Illinois
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    Skimmed the OP, din't ya? :wink::grin:
     
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  24. steveh

    steveh Poo-Bah (3,150) Oct 8, 2003 Illinois
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    Hop Generation. :wink:
     
  25. MNAle

    MNAle Poo-Bah (2,196) Sep 6, 2011 Minnesota
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    The opposite of sweet (in beer tasting) is dry.
     
  26. steveh

    steveh Poo-Bah (3,150) 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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  27. jonphisher

    jonphisher Defender (634) Aug 9, 2015 New Jersey
    Trader

    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]
     
  28. steveh

    steveh Poo-Bah (3,150) Oct 8, 2003 Illinois
    Society

    Covering all the bases -- AND abiding by Munich law. :wink:
     
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  29. steveh

    steveh Poo-Bah (3,150) Oct 8, 2003 Illinois
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    @MNAle -- pass the popcorn. :slight_smile:
     
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  30. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (5,134) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
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    Some folks may be interested in knowing that BeerAdvocate now has an ‘official’ position on the two types of Oktoberfest beers:

    “…two awesome styles of lager that are widely associated with Oktoberfest: Märzen and Festbier.”

    And:

    “In the meantime, I've updated our Märzen listing. It was painfully dated and didn't acknowledge the modern Oktoberfestbier. Speaking of which, I've also added Festbier / Wiesnbier as a style.”

    https://www.beeradvocate.com/commun...tyle-updates-for-maerzen-and-festbier.661238/

    As a ‘reminder’ what I stated in post #14:
    • Amber Oktoberfest (or Märzen)
    • Pale Oktoberfest (or sometimes called Festbier)
    Cheers!
     
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  31. MNAle

    MNAle Poo-Bah (2,196) Sep 6, 2011 Minnesota
    Society

    I was about to post the below when your post popped up!

    -------------------------

    @JackHorzempa ... Care to join?

    Oktoberfest Beer & History
     
  32. MNAle

    MNAle Poo-Bah (2,196) Sep 6, 2011 Minnesota
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    Run out of popcorn so soon?
     
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  33. jonphisher

    jonphisher Defender (634) Aug 9, 2015 New Jersey
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    Wiesn is associated with wheat now…:rolling_eyes: I learn more on here everyday :wink:
     
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  34. Todd

    Todd Founder (6,505) Aug 23, 1996 California
    Staff Moderator Fest Crew Society Trader

    [​IMG]
     
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  35. jonphisher

    jonphisher Defender (634) Aug 9, 2015 New Jersey
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    nailed it
     
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  36. steveh

    steveh Poo-Bah (3,150) Oct 8, 2003 Illinois
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    Left a bad taste in my mouth.

    Prolly too much diacetyl. :wink:
     
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  37. Phoodcritic

    Phoodcritic Defender (699) Jul 3, 2014 Michigan

    Would you say that the Märzen style is actually closer to a Vienna lager than to the Festbier style? What features differentiate the Vienna and Märzen?
     
  38. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (5,134) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Society

    The number one difference is that a Märzen will be higher in ABV.

    The other potential difference is a differing grain bill. If I were to brew a Vienna Lager it would feature Vienna Malt. In contrast I would use Munich Malt as part of the grain bill to brew a Märzen.

    Cheers!
     
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  39. Fordcoyote15

    Fordcoyote15 Meyvn (1,021) Nov 19, 2011 Pennsylvania
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    I'm really surprised at all od the Victory Festbier recommendations... if the OP is looking for a less sweet oktoberfest this beer is NOT it. It is quite sweet.

    Having said that, it stands to be one of my favorite fall beers every year. Not because it's an oktoberfest though. Blindly drank I'd challenge anyone to not pin this beer as brown ale. Its sweet and nutty.

    For a less sweet oktoberfeet my personal reccomendstion would be Penn Brewery oktoberfest. Crystal clear golden looking like a pilsner or a dortmunder and only drinking a touch sweeter if at all.

    Penn brewery absolute nails German beers with authenticity.

    https://www.beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/125/1590/
     
  40. jesskidden

    jesskidden Poo-Bah (2,291) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey
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    IF Löwenbräu was still exported to the US it would most likely be distributed through owner/importer (via their "Import Brands Alliance" subsidiary) AB-InBev's US distribution network. Interbrew bought Spaten-Löwenbräu in 2003 and AB-InBev stopped their US importation of Löwenbräu about a decade ago.
     
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