Is it getting harder to find Festbiers (pale Oktoberfest lagers)?

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by Gemini6, Sep 17, 2022.

  1. Gemini6

    Gemini6 Devotee (494) Oct 5, 2013 Michigan

    I generally prefer the pale helles Festbier style to the amber Marzen style of Oktoberfest beers, particularly early in the season when it's still quite warm. And IMO, German brewers just do these styles better.

    But this year, my three favorites are noticably absent from shelves near me. Hofbrau Oktoberfestbier and Weinstephaner Festbier are completely MIA, while Paulaner Wiesn is only available in the overpriced gift packs with the 32oz can (worth one purchase, but don't want/need a giant mug every time I buy the beer). All three breweries have their standard offerings well distributed in this area.

    The dark side has always been more popular, or so it seems. The amber Marzens are everywhere, both german and American. In fact, I've only found one helles Festbier for sale near me this year, and it's from Brewdog.

    Is anyone else experiencing the same issue? I'm in Central Michigan, fwiw.
     
  2. jonphisher

    jonphisher Meyvn (1,462) Aug 9, 2015 New Jersey
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    As a famous storage wars character used to say yuuuuuuuuup!

    The main ones are all available here.

    The thing I find interesting is it seems more and more small local places have adopted the term festbier but they look far from the beautiful gold/pale the Germans have; and some are just straight up marzen labeled as festbier.
     
  3. KT3418

    KT3418 Poo-Bah (1,667) Mar 18, 2021 Colorado
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    All 3 of those are in Strongsville OH, if you're willing to go that far, we only have the gift set and 12 packs of the Paulaner though. There's also a couple local festbiers I've seen and they are actual Festbiers not Marzens. That sucks they're not around Central Michigan. If you see Benediktiner there that's pretty decent for the cheap price
     
    #3 KT3418, Sep 17, 2022
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2022
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  4. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (5,751) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
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    That is unfortunate; there are tons of this beer at all of my local beer retailers. I have purchased one six-pack of bottles (so far). I will buy a four-pack of the cans if that format ever arrives to my area.
    It is fairly easy for the German brewers to 'win' as regards the Pale Otoberfest style since the vast majority of US craft breweries produce the Amber Oktoberfest sub-style. American beer consumers view Oktoberfest as though they should be amber.

    Last year I enjoyed a four-pack of Tucher Festbier:

    [​IMG]

    https://www.beeradvocate.com/community/threads/new-beer-weekend-61.661534/#post-7346786

    I have not 're-purchased' Tucher this year since the cans have a tough to decipher code and I am concerned they might be from last year's release.

    Cheers!
     
    #4 JackHorzempa, Sep 17, 2022
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2022
  5. steveh

    steveh Poo-Bah (3,657) Oct 8, 2003 Illinois
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    Wow, and here I am complaining about not seeing Spaten. I've already had all of the above (including Paulaner bottles in 12-packs), not to mention a few locals that are brewed pretty well.
     
  6. jonphisher

    jonphisher Meyvn (1,462) Aug 9, 2015 New Jersey
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    the code is simple, if it’s plastic packaging it’s last years if it’s cardboard this year. Thanks to other BAs for sharing this.
     
  7. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (5,751) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
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    At my local Retail Beer Distributor the four-packs are in plastic (and there are a lot of them). I suppose these beers did not sell well last year? US beer consumers prefer Amber Oktoberfest beers?

    Cheers!

    P.S. Thanks for the plastic vs. cardboard tip.
     
  8. o29

    o29 Devotee (450) Sep 29, 2020 Texas
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    It's very discouraging to me (though not wholly unsurprising) when retailers put out old stock of seasonal beers.

    I recently purchased a 4 pack of Tucher's Festbier without knowing the above, and fortunately lucked out that it was from this year's batch. The "gourmet" grocery store that I bought it from, at least in my experience, hasn't put out old stock on shelves for seasonal beers. I'm not sure if I've just lucked out over my many purchases though, or if they've been able to consistently ensure that their distributors do not push old stock on them, but it sounds like I've been fortunate.

    To answer this thread though, I haven't had any issues finding any of the typical German import festbiers, and I have both Ayinger and Weihenstephaner bottles in my fridge right now, after having just finished off the Tucher and a 4 pack of Paulaner. Yum. Also, not sure if I've just again been fortunate, but I do hope this trend doesn't catch on elsewhere as I love Oktoberfest season, and the Germans still tend to do it best.
     
  9. Gemini6

    Gemini6 Devotee (494) Oct 5, 2013 Michigan

    Stores can be sketchy, snd the German bottling codes don't help the confusion.

    The Ayinger is my favorite marzen, and I'm glad that it's probably the most abundant German Oktoberfest beer available here. Hacker-Pschorr probably comes in second. The Paulaner Marzen is available, but kinda scarce.
     
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  10. defunksta

    defunksta Poo-Bah (1,942) Jan 18, 2019 North Dakota
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    I feel your pain with the overabundance of Marzens to pale Festbier lagers. I wish more American breweries leaned toward the pale Festbier style because we're approaching Oktoberfest and it's still 80+ degrees here Up North. I'm not really in any mood for a Marzen yet. So I definitely prefer the pale Festbiers like you. Marzens are good, but I feel too early for the true Oktoberfest season. Sorry you haven't been able to find good Festbiers.
     
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  11. Cstamp3084

    Cstamp3084 Initiate (99) May 3, 2020 Maryland
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    All the usual suspects are available near me except one of my favorites spaten.
     
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  12. woodchipper

    woodchipper Poo-Bah (1,585) Oct 25, 2005 Connecticut
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    Just was at a brewery that won't be named. Had the Oktoberfest first. Then had the Festbier. The 2nd had more notes of the first than I expected. Just saying.
     
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  13. DrStiffington

    DrStiffington Poo-Bah (1,861) Oct 27, 2010 New Jersey
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    I prefer the lighter-colored festbiers over the darker marzens (although I enjoy those too) and wish there were more of them.
     
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  14. steveh

    steveh Poo-Bah (3,657) Oct 8, 2003 Illinois
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    I feel your pain.
     
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  15. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (5,751) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
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    Back in the day Victory made a Pale Oktoberfest they branded as Zeltbier (translation: tent beer) which I really enjoyed drinking. I am bummed that under the ABV ownership they decided to nix this seasonal beer. :slight_frown:

    Cheers!
     
  16. BigIronH

    BigIronH Poo-Bah (1,827) Oct 31, 2019 Michigan
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  17. Cstamp3084

    Cstamp3084 Initiate (99) May 3, 2020 Maryland
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    I found some in Virginia and Pennsylvania best by 10/22 so I passed. My local distributor said they received kegs but no bottles I don’t really go out and drink but spaten on tap might warrant a trip.
     
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  18. bubseymour

    bubseymour Poo-Bah (3,533) Oct 30, 2010 Maryland
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    I’m seeing (or perhaps more aware) of Festbiers this year vs years past. Sam Adams even made a Festbier and I find more enjoyable than their Marzen/Oktoberfest. For at the beer store I was at today agreed as well.
     
  19. steveh

    steveh Poo-Bah (3,657) Oct 8, 2003 Illinois
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    Second year for that one, so yeah -- maybe just more aware. :wink:
     
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  20. dcw6363

    dcw6363 Initiate (75) Nov 11, 2009 Wisconsin
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    I am a big fan of the festbier when done right. There seem to be more than usual this year in Wisconsin, as some local places are giving it a shot. I haven't found a go-to yet. Couldn't find any German festbiers at my local (although see below--maybe Paulaner?)

    I did think the Fair State festbier from MN was pretty good.

    Question about Paulaner. Under the festbier entry notes it says: '' Labeled as Oktoberfest Bier in Germany and Oktoberfest Wiesn in the US.' Is this still true? I saw tall boy Paulaner cans a couple weeks ago that said just "Oktoberfest Bier" (not "Wiesn") and they sure looked like festbier going by the color of beer on the can label. A friend of mine bought them and also said they were a festbier and not a marzen. I didn't buy them because when I saw them, the date made it look like they were a year old.

    Anyone know if these Paulaner tall boys are festbier?
     
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  21. Junior

    Junior Champion (852) May 23, 2015 Michigan
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    I’ve seen both Paulaner and Weihenstephaner festbiers in the Lansing area. The later was in Meijer last week when I was there.
     
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  22. grantcty

    grantcty Initiate (150) Feb 17, 2008 Minnesota
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    They did drop the 'Wiesn' name from the can. If the cans looked like this:

    [​IMG]

    Then this beer is the festbier. This can was packaged in June 2022. Also came in a cardboard holder/packaging for the 4-pack
     
  23. Reidrover

    Reidrover Poo-Bah (4,749) Jan 14, 2003 Oregon
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    Gonna be controversial, but up here in God's Country we get so.w excellent fest bier style beers Sitting here drinking pFriem Oktoberfest.
    Chuckanut also does a good one.
    Also have a six pack of Firestone Walker Oktoberfest in the fridge at home
     
  24. deanzaZZR

    deanzaZZR Aspirant (234) Jan 8, 2015 California

    Put me on Team Festbier. I have had all of the major German imports. I haven't had any locals but now that I have enjoyed the imports that I like I might do some research about the local options. Most seem to be the Märzen style from the description. If I see the Spaten Ur-Marzen I will pick that up as I have enjoyed it in the past. I have not located the Ayinger Märzen, but I will survive.
     
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  25. steveh

    steveh Poo-Bah (3,657) Oct 8, 2003 Illinois
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    As Grant said, Paulaner dropped the "Wiesn" from labels (last year?). It's also available in six and 12-pack bottles.

    I can't remember how the cans are dated, exactly, but Paulaner is usually pretty clear on dating -- best by one year from packaging.
     
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  26. Fordcoyote15

    Fordcoyote15 Meyvn (1,254) Nov 19, 2011 Pennsylvania
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    Penn brewery makes a pale one that I consider the best out there.
     
  27. elliot23

    elliot23 Initiate (103) Jan 27, 2009 Maryland
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    Harder to find them? I don't think so. But it is always hard to find a good one. I just tried this years Sam Adams Oktoberfest and it was horrible. I wish Sierra Nevada would still brew their callab festbiers again.
     
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  28. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (5,751) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
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    What is the name of that beer? Is it packaged (i.e., bottled)?

    Cheers!
     
  29. klarcbarr3

    klarcbarr3 Aspirant (221) Oct 1, 2019 Michigan

    I moved to Michigan from NJ in Feb. 2021, and have had trouble getting many beers here that I used to find throughout NJ. Michigan has Founders, so all is not lost, but it seems much more restrictive on out of states brews, and I have no idea why.
     
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  30. steveh

    steveh Poo-Bah (3,657) Oct 8, 2003 Illinois
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    Don't forget Bell's. For the moment, anyway.
     
  31. PapaGoose03

    PapaGoose03 Poo-Bah (3,678) May 30, 2005 Michigan
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    I think many breweries respect the 'dominance' that Founders and Bell's have here in Michigan and they have reluctance to come here, plus there may be a bit of a 'protectionist' barrier on the part of he government. (There definitely is for shipping beers and wine into Michigan.)
     
  32. Fordcoyote15

    Fordcoyote15 Meyvn (1,254) Nov 19, 2011 Pennsylvania
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    Bottled and canned.
    https://www.beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/125/1590/

    Edit - although looking at it on untapped check ins its much darker than I recall. Maybe its changed or maybe my recollection is off. It's definitely a more pilsner tasting oktoberfest and a less caramel malt heavy one.
     
  33. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (5,751) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
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    That beer is not a Pale Oktoberfest beer.

    Cheers!
     
  34. dcw6363

    dcw6363 Initiate (75) Nov 11, 2009 Wisconsin
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    Yes this was it, thanks. If I recall, the one I saw had two dates a year (?) apart and the earlier date was March 2021. I will keep looking!
     
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  35. CB_Michigan

    CB_Michigan Zealot (521) Sep 4, 2014 Illinois
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    I’ve lived a few places and traveled to many more. Michigan has a higher level of state pride than anywhere else I’ve called home. “Made in the Mitten” carries a huge amount of weight and the Michigan Brewers Guild did a great job of capitalizing on that sentiment when I lived there. Every gas station or party store had Founders, Bell’s, New Holland, even Short’s and Dark Horse mainstays (also Atwater, but ugh). There’s definitely more in-state options than when I moved away, so it’s not like you’re in a quality beer wasteland or anything. Distributors might be able to bring ‘em in, but who’s buying?
     
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  36. Fordcoyote15

    Fordcoyote15 Meyvn (1,254) Nov 19, 2011 Pennsylvania
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    I agree. Have you had it?
     
  37. SFACRKnight

    SFACRKnight Poo-Bah (2,083) Jan 20, 2012 Colorado
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    For as long as I can remember marzen was the only style I could get until 3 years ago when the lighter examples started showing up. I enjoy both styles, but marzen does it for my palate.
     
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  38. ATL6245

    ATL6245 Meyvn (1,081) Aug 16, 2018 Georgia
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    My guess is it's got to be mostly about distribution, laws and the size market you are in. I'm in the Atlanta area, so I can't help you much. Before 2019, we had Weihenstephaner Festbier (bottles) and occasionally Hofbrau Oktoberfest (bottles) available. Then Paulaner Oktoberfestbier starting around 2019. But we're a large metropolitan city market which has the advantage of being able to support more variety. I suspect the retailer doesn't have to make the choice, for example, between carrying either the Paulaner Oktoberfest Märzen or Oktoberfestbier whereas a smaller market may.

    While the Märzen is by far the most popular style down here, I suspect now that the Festbier style is becoming more available (we have tons of Paulaner & Weihenstephaner inventory this year) it will overtake Märzen in this country eventually. Personally, I enjoy both styles and don't feel like I have to make a choice - I buy both about equally.

    A side note, I think the pandemic in 2020-21 made a huge difference in available ability of German imports of Festbier in America. Since the festival was canceled both years, German breweries had to package and sell all that beer somewhere. I noticed that the supply of Festbier nearly doubled in 2021 especially. I was afraid that, since the festival was happening in 2022, we would not see the same availability of Festbier. That has not seemed to be the case. We seem to have more supply this year than 2021 and that makes me very happy. :slight_smile:
     
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  39. ATL6245

    ATL6245 Meyvn (1,081) Aug 16, 2018 Georgia
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    The U.S. has been bad about that labeling issue. Hopefully this is getting better. Victory Brewing used to label theirs Festbier, with Amber Lager in small print. I noticed they changed a couple of years ago to Festbier Märzen. The U.S. brewers should adopt the German convention to avoid confusion. Paulaner makes Oktoberfest Bier for their beer served at the festival and Oktoberfest Märzen for their exported amber lager. Weihenstephaner labels their Festbier - Weihenstephaner Festbier, but because theirs is not served at the festival itself they do not use the term Oktoberfest on the label. Basically, any beer made that is served at the festival uses Oktoberfest in the labeling.
     
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  40. Urk1127

    Urk1127 Poo-Bah (2,083) Jul 2, 2014 Pennsylvania
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    Not in PA or NJ. Yesterday i saw weihenstephaner. Warsteiner. Paulaner. Tucher and some other lesser known ones in the fest style.