Sierra Nevada Teams with Germany’s Bitburger Brewery on 2019 Oktoberfest Beer

Discussion in 'Beer News & Releases' started by Todd, May 8, 2019.

  1. Todd

    Todd Founder (5,978) Aug 23, 1996 California
    Staff Moderator Fest Crew Society

    First American beer brewed with Bitburger’s secret hop blend.

    May 8, 2019—Chico, CA—Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. announced today that it is collaborating with Germany’s Bitburger Brewery on its 2019 Oktoberfest beer. The beer will be released nationwide in bottles in late July.

    The beer is brewed with Bitburger’s famed Siegelhopfen (meaning “sealed hops”)—a classified hop blend that has never been shared outside the German brewery walls. The beer will also feature Bitburger’s custom yeast, another house ingredient gifted for the first time ever.

    “Our breweries’ shared commitment to quality and family ownership made this an obvious fit,” said Sierra Nevada founder and owner Ken Grossman. “Together, our families have shared great times telling stories, enjoying food and drinking beer—the perfect conditions for a great Oktoberfest.”

    Founded in 1817, Bitburger has been family-owned for seven generations. The brewery is famous for its “perfect pilsner” and its commitment to quality in brewing. The collaboration Oktoberfest will feature a rich amber color, smooth malty flavor and balanced hop character sure to turn backyards into beer gardens.

    “We are thrilled to be brewing together with our friends from the iconic Sierra Nevada Brewery,” said Jan Niewodniczanski, Managing Director of Bitburger representing the seventh Generation of the family business. “Not only are we united by our passion for exceptional beer and truly unique hop flavors, we also share a long history of transatlantic exchange, leading to this exciting collaboration.”

    Bitburger will visit Sierra Nevada’s facility in Mills River, NC to taste a test brew and to celebrate at Sierra Nevada’s public Springtoberfest celebration on May 11.

    Learn more at

    About Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
    Inspired by frequent trips to the Sierra Nevada mountain range, Ken Grossman founded Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. in 1980. Highly regarded for using only the finest quality ingredients, Sierra Nevada has set the standard for craft brewers worldwide with innovations in the brewhouse and in its sustainability efforts. The pioneering spirit that launched Sierra Nevada now spans both coasts with breweries in Chico, California and Mills River, North Carolina. Sierra Nevada continues to honor its mountain heritage through day-to-day sustainability efforts and programs like Pale Ale for Trails. The brewery is famous for its extensive line of beers including Pale Ale, Hazy Little Thing®, Torpedo®, Tropical Torpedo® and a host of seasonal, specialty and limited release beers. Learn more at

    About Bitburger Brewery
    Bitburger is one of the most important privately-owned breweries in Germany. The company’s success over the past 200 years has been the result of its uncompromising commitment to highest quality, courage for technical innovations and dedicated employees. Furthermore, as a family-owned company in the seventh generation, Bitburger has always been very active in its home region. A careful use of natural resources, as well as the protection of the environment and climate, have always been part of Bitburger.

  2. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (4,147) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    On the Sierra Nevada website they provide the below details for the hops used to brew this year’s beer:


    Bitburger Siegelhopfen, German Magnum, Loral”

    The blend of hops that is branded by the word Siegelhopfen (“sealed hops”) is intriguing.

    Terence (@SierraTerence) since the Siegelhopfen are listed first does that mean you used them for the bittering addition?

    Premo88 likes this.
  3. dfd02186

    dfd02186 Disciple (334) Jan 17, 2012 Massachusetts
    Society Trader

    I'm pretty excited for this. Bitburger is one of my favorite canned German Pils (like so much else, the fresher the better). I hope this Oktoberfest captures some of that lightness (obviously Oktoberfest isn't a light style).
    mynie and Premo88 like this.
  4. AZBeerDude72

    AZBeerDude72 Poo-Bah (1,792) Jun 10, 2016 Arizona
    Society Trader

    I am really looking forward to trying this, sounds outstanding.
    Cheers to SN once again!
    Premo88 likes this.
  5. eldoctorador

    eldoctorador Defender (637) Dec 12, 2014 California

    I like the Bitburger products I have tried, although they do not rank very well here in BeerAdvocate. Perhaps a stupid question, is Bitburger considered a macro in Germany?
    Premo88 likes this.
  6. Roadkizzle

    Roadkizzle Aspirant (210) Nov 6, 2007 Texas

    In Germany people call their macro beers Fernsehbier which means Television beer. And are the beers ubiquitous in advertising.
    On this forum in the Germany section they say that Bitburger is known as one of the worst of these Fernsehbier.
    KentT, Premo88 and eldoctorador like this.
  7. AlcahueteJ

    AlcahueteJ Meyvn (1,084) Dec 4, 2004 Massachusetts

    I don't particularly care for it over here, but I've mentioned in other threads one of my trips to Germany last year.

    I was in Darmstadt and had it fresh on tap. It was absolutely delicious, nothing like what we get over here. The most notable part was how hoppy it was compared to what we get here. I imagine there might be a lot of old Bitburger on shelves in Germany as well due to the ridiculous "best by" dates on these beers.
  8. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (4,147) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    KentT, AlcahueteJ, Roguer and 2 others like this.
  9. Alefflicted

    Alefflicted Initiate (85) Dec 2, 2017 Minnesota

    I'm sure I'll be drinking quite a bit of this come autumn.
  10. herrburgess

    herrburgess Meyvn (1,100) Nov 4, 2009 South Carolina

    it is by much of the population, especially in Bavaria, yes. but I know a lot of people in the area(s) where it's brewed that consider it their "local." Depends on who you ask, then.
    #10 herrburgess, May 9, 2019
    Last edited: May 9, 2019
  11. steveh

    steveh Poo-Bah (2,270) Oct 8, 2003 Illinois

    I have high hopes for this beer because of Sierra Nevada's reputation... and they're immediately dashed by Bitburger's reputation. The proof of the pudding, as they say.
    FBarber likes this.
  12. rgordon

    rgordon Savant (973) Apr 26, 2012 North Carolina

    It really is a natural fit. I would like to think that the Grossmans and family will be on board for a few more generations yet. I will buy this beer and tomorrow I'll buy some Bitburger just to re-visit.
    herrburgess likes this.
  13. nc41

    nc41 Poo-Bah (1,937) Sep 25, 2008 North Carolina

    So not an expert of German beers, but Bitburger might have some crossover appeal. It might be more recognizable to casual beer drinkers who might occasionally buy a German brew now and then. Makes sense, looking forward to this collaboration as always.
    herrburgess likes this.
  14. herrburgess

    herrburgess Meyvn (1,100) Nov 4, 2009 South Carolina

    I think it may be a move by SN to make major inroads into the German beer market as a US "craft" brewery. Of course they could alternately invest $30M in an ill-fated facility and tell Germans their beer sucks as a way to gain a hold....
  15. Bitterbill

    Bitterbill Poo-Bah (6,826) Sep 14, 2002 Wyoming
    Society Trader

    A go of it I will give.
  16. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (4,147) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    Are you Yoda!?!:confused:

    HorseheadsHophead and rgordon like this.
  17. hopfenunmaltz

    hopfenunmaltz Meyvn (1,464) Jun 8, 2005 Michigan

    Years back Sierra Nevada said they would partner with family owned breweries. The press release says Bitburg is family owned. That should tell you a little right there.

    Not to far fetched to think that Ken Grossman hit it off with the Bitburg family on one of his trips to Germany, for a conference, equipment selection, ingredient selection, what have you.
    meefmoff, drtth, TongoRad and 3 others like this.
  18. beardown2489

    beardown2489 Disciple (384) Oct 5, 2012 Illinois

    Weihenstephaner is the exception I guess. But nobody who knows is going to complain about this exception.

    Excited, as always, to try each years collaboration
  19. AlcahueteJ

    AlcahueteJ Meyvn (1,084) Dec 4, 2004 Massachusetts

    You mean summer right? :wink:
  20. steveh

    steveh Poo-Bah (2,270) Oct 8, 2003 Illinois

    Yeah, probably be extinct by Autumn. :wink:
    tobelerone, ESHBG, Bitterbill and 2 others like this.
  21. TongoRad

    TongoRad Poo-Bah (2,647) Jun 3, 2004 New Jersey
    Society Trader

    I'll always have a soft spot for Bitburger for being pretty much my Pilsner of the 90s. That was mainly due to the brown glass, but it was also no slouch in the hoppy department. If anything, the balance actually favored the hops. The last time I had one it didn't seem the same; it could have been due to handling or age or whatever...

    Either way, I'm looking forward to this one as much as all the others.
  22. hopfenunmaltz

    hopfenunmaltz Meyvn (1,464) Jun 8, 2005 Michigan

    The Weihenstephaner collaboration made me rasie my eyebrows, but why not? I'm sure there were reasons that resulted in the collaborations.
    HorseheadsHophead and Bitterbill like this.
  23. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (4,147) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    In post #2 I provided information on the hops that are being used to brew this beer. I figured folks would be interested in reading the grain bill:


    Caramelized malts, Munich, Pilsner”

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  24. hopfenunmaltz

    hopfenunmaltz Meyvn (1,464) Jun 8, 2005 Michigan

    I hope that is not listed by amount used. ;-)

    Type and amount are not specified, so how the beer tastes is not known. I'm looking forward to buying this.
  25. Ranbot

    Ranbot Champion (875) Nov 27, 2006 Pennsylvania

    Last year when I was on vacation in Trier* it felt like being in Bitburger land. The Bitburger brewery is just down the road, so it was fresh, it was good, no complaints.

    * - an under-appreciated tourist destination... amazing history.
  26. AlcahueteJ

    AlcahueteJ Meyvn (1,084) Dec 4, 2004 Massachusetts

    Wow, didn't expect that. If I recall correctly, this is the first Oktoberfest of theirs that's used caramelized malts right?

    Ok good, so it wasn't just my palate.
    herrburgess and Ranbot like this.
  27. deanzaZZR

    deanzaZZR Initiate (124) Jan 8, 2015 California

    Does Bitburger make an oktoberfest beer on their own? I see known rated on this site.
  28. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (4,147) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    I personally do not have a complete grasp of all of the recipes for SN brewed Oktoberfest beers. Perhaps @SierraTerence could provide you with an answer here.

    AlcahueteJ likes this.
  29. deadwolfbones

    deadwolfbones Initiate (119) Jun 21, 2014 Oregon

    I saw a 4pk of Bitburger cans on the shelf at Trader Joe's last night and checked the date code. Appeared to have been canned in December 2018 with a best by date of December 2019. At four months old I had to pass, but if I spot it again at less than two I'll give it a try.
    AlcahueteJ likes this.
  30. ecpho

    ecpho Aspirant (246) Mar 28, 2011 New York

    I don't think there's anything wrong with 4 month old cans of pilsner from Germany. Plus what was it like $6 for a 4 pack?
  31. EmperorBatman

    EmperorBatman Initiate (73) Mar 16, 2018 District of Columbia

    I wonder how the Bitburger house yeast and hops will affect the taste of this beer.
  32. FBarber

    FBarber Poo-Bah (2,871) Mar 5, 2016 Illinois
    Society Trader

    In your opinion is four months old too old for an imported pilsner? Personally, if its less than 6 months I'm happy ... And heck, I have had good luck with the cans up to 9 months. To me, its not a NE style IPA ... 4 months is nothing.
  33. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (4,147) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    You will find out in a few months.

    Bitterbill likes this.
  34. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (4,147) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    That used to be my criteria when purchasing German brewed Pale Lagers. I figured if I didn't utilize a 6 month date I would never purchase these beers since they are typically many months old when I see them on my local beer retailers' shelves.

    Lately I have predominantly been drinking German brewed beers on draft with the concept that draft should be fresher (than 6 months).

    AlcahueteJ, FBarber and Bitterbill like this.
  35. deadwolfbones

    deadwolfbones Initiate (119) Jun 21, 2014 Oregon

    I admit I haven't done a ton of comparative taste-tests, but as a homebrewer I buy beer so rarely that when I do I want it to be really fresh.
    sharpski, AlcahueteJ and FBarber like this.
  36. jesskidden

    jesskidden Poo-Bah (1,849) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey
    Society Trader

    According to an article in a 2008 shipping industry publication about Heineken:
    Now like the Dutch brewer and its beer or not, they are far and away the largest European beer exporter to the US with extensive experience since Repeal, the best selling Europe import in the US for decades, etc. They send 55,000 shipping containers of Heineken to US in a year.

    If it takes them 5 weeks to get their beer to the west coast - and then, obviously, more time for it to get to their distributors and then into the retailers...

    Well, doubtful you'll ever see Bitburger "less than two (months)" old.
    keithmurray, zid, steveh and 3 others like this.
  37. deadwolfbones

    deadwolfbones Initiate (119) Jun 21, 2014 Oregon

    Well, that's a shame.
  38. AlcahueteJ

    AlcahueteJ Meyvn (1,084) Dec 4, 2004 Massachusetts

    As many have stated, you MIGHT get it less than three months old if you're lucky. I'd give it a whirl, but bear in mind it won't be anything like it is when it's much fresher in my opinion.

    I still think it will be "good enough" though at 4 months old.

    While it's not a New England IPA, and it doesn't turn to complete trash at 4 months, it does lose a fair amount of flavor.

    And as @jesskidden says, you'll likely never get to try it super fresh, unless you go to Germany. And even there I think you'll have to have it on draft, because I bet cans are older in Germany as well due to year long "best by" dates, maybe 15 month "best by" dates in some cases (not sure what Bitburger's is).

    When I had it on draft I was maybe 2 hours from the brewery. I think most folks may turn their nose up at Bitburger and think this collaboration will suck. My opinion is, that while Bitburger might not be at the level of a Weihestephan or Mahr's, they're no slouch either. I think they know how to brew beer well.

    Looking forward to giving this is a shot at a Fourth of July BBQ. :wink:

  39. steveh

    steveh Poo-Bah (2,270) Oct 8, 2003 Illinois

    No. There have been posts about one they made in the past, but it appears to be retired.
  40. FBarber

    FBarber Poo-Bah (2,871) Mar 5, 2016 Illinois
    Society Trader

    Sure, I know that any import I buy is going to have lost something when compared to having it fresh at or near the source. But having it on draft at or near the source isn't really an option for me right now - the cans are.

    Ive had the fresh unfiltered pilsner urquell that was flown over and was super fresh - its amazing and so much better than the PU cans ... but I still buy the cans regularly because I like them and drinking the fresh stuff isn't usually an option.