North American Oktoberfest vs German Oktoberfest

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Tobor_8thMan

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OK, OK, over the years I guess I've had too many NA Oktoberfest beers. Somewhat orange in color, malty, etc.

Recently, I had a Paulander Oktoberfest. Yellow in color and the taste was, to me, phenomenal.

My question, why are North American Oktoberfests different than German Oktoberfests?

I am only writing about North American Oktoberfest as I've not had a South American, et al, Oktoberfest.
 
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German ocfests are much more subdued. MUCH less malty flavor. IMO they are pilsners with some malt flavor and color (munich) added. American ocfests go way overboard (don't mean to generalize, there might be good ones, can't remember).

There is a local german brewery to me (yes, here in FL) that makes their own, and it's THE BEST.
 
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Tobor_8thMan

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German ocfests are much more subdued. MUCH less malty flavor. IMO they are pilsners with some malt flavor and color (munich) added. American ocfests go way overboard (don't mean to generalize, there might be good ones, can't remember).

There is a local german brewery to me (yes, here in FL) that makes their own, and it's THE BEST.
IMO, based on what I've encountered, this is a good description. Thanks.
 

TheMadKing

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Just to clarify, since Octoberfest isn't actually a beer style, are you referring to märzen or festbier?

Märzen is near-amber in color, strong malt flavor, full bodied, and well balanced

Festbier is effectively an imperial Helles, pale in color, medium body, malty but not heavy, and highly drinkable

Most "oktoberfest" beers served in the U.S. are examples of Märzen. And the general tendancy is to make them Caramel bombs, which is completely inappropriate for the style. There are many good examples, but most of the best known (looking at you Sam adams) are way too sweet and Caramelly
 

bwible

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This is a case where the Americans are brewing the “traditional” octoberfest beer while the Germans are the innovators. They made the beer lighter and more drinkable so more liters could be consumed on the Weisn.


 

bwible

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You found a Paulaner example. As the articles above say, Paulaner is one of only 6 breweries allowed to call their beer Festbier and brew and serve it for Octoberfest in Germany. All 6 of those breweries serve the modern Festbier style. So you found a real example of the beer that is actually being served at Octoberfest in Germany. I like the Festbier style better myself.
 
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superiorsat

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If you can get your hands on Spaten Oktoberfestbier you won't regret it. After a couple pints at a Hofbrau beer tent at a them park it had me looking into buying a keg. A 6 hour round trip drive to get it kind of killed that idea.

1632664896728.png
 

TheMadKing

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You found a Paulaner example. As the articles above say, Paulaner is one of only 6 breweries allowed to call their beer Festbier and brew and serve it for Octoberfest in Germany. All 6 of those breweries serve the modern Festbier style. So you found a real example of the beer that is actually being served at Octoberfest in Germany. I like the Festbier style better myself.
Paulaner makes both a festbier and a märzen, so we don't know which one the OP had
 

lumbergh

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PXL_20210919_202912753.jpg


I did a comparison last week. One on the left is Paulaner festbier. 2 on the right are local marzen. I preferred the Paulaner. They're different styles. Festbier is definitely easier to drink more of despite the higher alcohol content.
Next I will put the Paulaner up against my own Lutea festbier for an apples to (almost) apples comparison.
 
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TheMadKing

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Well since he said yellow in color it probably wasn’t the Marzen and thats also why he’s asking about the difference between that and the “Octoberfest” we get here
Ah I missed that he said yellow my bad

But in any case my point was that it's important to compare apples to apples

So op is effectively asking why don't American märzens taste like German festbiers... That's all I was getting at
 
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Qhrumphf

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Eis Zäpfle from Rothhaus is marketed as a Märzen but is actually very pale. Though distinctly maltier and less hoppy than the modern Festbiers (at least the not-so-fresh bit that I tried). I would almost call it a scaled down Helles Bock.

American "Oktoberfest" beers (as said, "Oktoberfest" is only a style if you refer to the beers brewed for the Wiesn by the 6 permitted breweries in Munich) tend to replicate the old Märzen style, and few do it well. Most are caramel bombs and very sweet. Typical American approach of "Malty beer? Malty more better good!"
 

Lefou

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Paulaner Oktoberfest Wiesn and Marzen are two of the best German import beers you can find. The Wiesn is seasonal and possibly the best festbier I've had, while the marzen is year-round and a great example itself.
Last year one of my boys bought me some of the Salvator Doppelbock and accidentally broke several bottles. A most unfortunate accident as it's an excellent beer I'd recommend to anyone who likes the style.
 

Spivey24

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Anyone have a good modern German festbier or marzen recipe including water parameters and mash schedule? I think I need to get one of each started for a good Novemberfest.
 

bwible

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Anyone have a good modern German festbier or marzen recipe including water parameters and mash schedule? I think I need to get one of each started for a good Novemberfest.
Haven’t brewed it, but I like the look of this one:

 

lumbergh

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Anyone have a good modern German festbier or marzen recipe including water parameters and mash schedule? I think I need to get one of each started for a good Novemberfest.
Look in the recipe section. There's one there that I used. I'm not sure if water parameters are there.
 

monkeymath

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I'm admittedly confused. I live in Munich, born and raised, and I had never heard of the style "Märzen" until I started homebrewing. I have never seen a Märzen (or anything that resembles the "American German Oktoberfest") in a pub or a store until a couple years ago when some smaller breweries introduced similar offerings.

Reading you discuss the "Paulaner Märzen", not the Festbier, I got curious and checked Paulaner's website for info on this mysterious beast: nothing, it's not listed under their beers. I then switched to the American version of their website: tadaaa, "Oktoberfest Märzen"!

German online beer stores do not seem to know the beer either. This is only speculation, but it seems to me that they only make it for the American market?
 

dmtaylor

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Whatever Marzen is... it sure is tasty. It's nearly identical to Vienna lager... but I guess maybe that doesn't help either, since they seem to make much more of it in Mexico and USA than they do in Vienna!?!

To explain it in another way that Europeans might be better able to understand.... Marzen is approximately like a 50/50 blend of Munich pilsener and Munich dunkel. Or at least, that's how I perceive it in flavor as well as recipes I have seen. Or, correct me if I am wrong! :)
 

2hennepin6

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Can't add much except the year's Founders Oktoberfest German-style Marzen (15 pack of cans) was very disappointing. It had a heavy pilsener element on top of too much malty caramel. Normally I applaud "the 15 pack is the new 12 pack". Not this time
 

Qhrumphf

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I'm admittedly confused. I live in Munich, born and raised, and I had never heard of the style "Märzen" until I started homebrewing. I have never seen a Märzen (or anything that resembles the "American German Oktoberfest") in a pub or a store until a couple years ago when some smaller breweries introduced similar offerings.

Reading you discuss the "Paulaner Märzen", not the Festbier, I got curious and checked Paulaner's website for info on this mysterious beast: nothing, it's not listed under their beers. I then switched to the American version of their website: tadaaa, "Oktoberfest Märzen"!

German online beer stores do not seem to know the beer either. This is only speculation, but it seems to me that they only make it for the American market?
I get the impression that the old style is very much out of favor in Germany. It wouldn't surprise me at all if it's solely produced for the export market where it's still popular.
 

BigEd

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Here's my "get off my lawn" response. I do think there is an intellectual conceit or ignorance within the homebrewing community that assumes all the commercial beers and brewers are looking to the BJCP guidelines when they make a beer. Outside of a maybe a handful of small craft breweries started by former homebrews I cannot imagine that commercial breweries, and certainly those in Germany, give one hoot or even know what the BJCP is.

It's rare to find a North American "Oktoberfest" beer that comes anywhere close to the German brews from Bavaria. I suppose we have Sam Adams to blame as years ago when they brought out their Oktoberfest and it became popular it also became the benchmark for brewers in this Hemisphere. I'll admit I drank a lot of it in the past and initially the SA didn't have much competition. Extremely few domestic breweries were doing a version and fresh, German-made brews were almost impossible to come by as craft and imported beers were still pretty much a drop in the bucket.

Sam Adams showed they could actually make a good version of a European beer but unfortunately it wasn't this one. Over the years they sold a very good Schwartzbier and a Vienna. Those beers had bases of German malts and very restrained use of crystal malt. The Oktoberfest, on the other hand, uses bland North American pale malt for its base and then adds a heavy-handed dose of domestic crystal for color and sweetness. So that formula for success became the standard and also what a lot of everyday drinkers came to expect an Oktoberfest beer to taste like.

I've never made it to Germany (one of these days, Alice) but I've quaffed as much good German beer as possible on tap at local spots that carried it. Also nowadays it is possible to buy bottled German beer from good retailers that have product that's not old/stale/oxidized or otherwise substandard as used to be the norm. I grabbed a sixer each of Paulaner and Spaten Oktoberfest over the weekend and they are both in excellent condition and delicious. Both are the darker, old style Marzen brew which is my favorite. They are rich with the flavor of Munich malt but still extremely drinkable. The maltiness (not to be confused with simple or crystal malt sweetness) is wonderful and is balanced perfectly with a deft counterpoint of hops. They also have that elusive "clean & dry" finish that sets many German lagers apart from others. If you have the interest see the other recent thread in this section re German lager.

Cheers!
 

csantoni

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Here's my "get off my lawn" response…
I think you nailed it. I’ve had the Sam Adams Ofest and it really doesn’t compare to the Ayinger or Spaten versions I picked up recently. My own attempt is drinking like something in between the Ayinger and a Festbier. I’d really love to try a true Festbier in Germany as I bet it has everything I like about a Marzen without everything I don’t like about a Marzen.
 

cyberbackpacker

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Anyone have a good modern German festbier or marzen recipe including water parameters and mash schedule? I think I need to get one of each started for a good Novemberfest.
60% Barke Pils 10% Distillers malt 30% Weyermann Munich I to about 1.052 OG
good german hop (Mittelfruh, Tradition, etc) to about 21 ibu
WLP835 or WY2206 pitched at 2.5m/ml
Oxygenate well
Mitigate oxygen pickup through the entire process including packaging (no sparge helps, no splashing, kegging better than bottles, fermentation purge your serving keg if possible, spund if possible).

That will get you started...

:mug:
 

adman

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60% Barke Pils 10% Distillers malt 30% Weyermann Munich I to about 1.052 OG
good german hop (Mittelfruh, Tradition, etc) to about 21 ibu
WLP835 or WY2206 pitched at 2.5m/ml
Oxygenate well
Mitigate oxygen pickup through the entire process including packaging (no sparge helps, no splashing, kegging better than bottles, fermentation purge your serving keg if possible, spund if possible).

That will get you started...

:mug:
I made this exact recipe (60/10/30, OG 1.056). Finished at 1.009 for 6.3% abv, and seems pretty crushable despite the relatively high abv. It’s the first lager I‘ve made that has finished below 1.010, which I attribute to the distiller’s malt. I’ve only tried the extra that I bottled from the dregs after filling the keg for spunding, and I’m pretty psyched about it. Tapping the keg this weekend for our neighborhood oktoberfest.
 

Oleson M.D.

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Imagine my surprise (shock?) when I sat down in the Paulaner restaurant, in Frankfurt, and ordered their Festbier. I expected it to be a Marzen style, but it was light in color, and more in the style of a Pils or Helles, with a little more malt profile.
It was a very good beer, much better than the Oktoberfest examples from the breweries on this side of the Atlantic.
There was a time when the Boston Beer Companies O-Fest was purchased every fall. But no more.
 

96Illini

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Great thread ladies and gentlemen, I've enjoyed reading / learning. Our brew crew just made a Mocktoberfest Vienna "lager" with this recipe. Bottled this weekend so we can drink during October. The flat beer tasted good while bottling. I may have a problem, but I can never resist drinking a few warm, flat beers on bottling day.


1632850514880.png
 

Oleson M.D.

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Saw a Gold Medal winning beer recipe, from the GABF, two years ago. It was 80% Pils, 12% Vienna, 8% Munich.
This should get you into the true Festbier class.
60 / 20 / 20 will not get you there.
 
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BrewersVocation

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If you don't know Mean Brews, check him out. Recently brewed his Fest Bier recipe. Delicious!
Yes!! Finally! Last night I had Warsteins Festbier and Breckenridge Octoberfest. The Festbier was on another level, very pale, super drinkable, less sweet.
 

Brooothru

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Can't add much except the year's Founders Oktoberfest German-style Marzen (15 pack of cans) was very disappointing. It had a heavy pilsener element on top of too much malty caramel. Normally I applaud "the 15 pack is the new 12 pack". Not this time
That's always been my impression of Marzen. Never liked them, but I just realized from @monkeymath 's comment that I never saw a Marzen in Germany on my many trips there.

Half Pils, half Dunkel of this Americanized beer is an apt description. I like a good Pils, and an occasional Dunkel is enjoyable as well, but this New World variation on a theme of Festbier just doesn't light my fire.
 

Qhrumphf

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Wonder if it's actually Americanized, or just archaic in Germany (last I was in Germany I was late single digits and too young to have any direct experience or recollection), and had a resurrection internationally. Because the American "Oktoberfest" and the German Marzen that is imported into the US are seldom the same thing.
 

Oleson M.D.

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Want to brew a good, award winning Festbier?
EF8F5930-2DE8-4D3C-BD56-281064C542CC.png
 
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Brooothru

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Want to brew a good, award winning Festbier?
View attachment 744018
Nearly identical to a recipe for Festbier I've planned on brewing for some time, but "life" keeps getting in the way. Mine uses Weyermann in place of Ireks malts, and I plan to use Augustiner (-860) instead of WLP-830 Weihenstephan 34/70. Otherwise spot on.

Note to self: brew more, surf Homebrew Talk less.
 

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