There are two things beer drinkers are at least aware of during the fall: Oktoberfest beers and Pumpkin Ales. Believe it or not, both have rich histories.
Oktoberfest beers are the (originally named) amber lagers that accompany Oktoberfest, held in Munich, Germany. Oktoberfest is a 16-18 day folk festival that runs from the middle of the September through October 1st. It is the largest of its kind in the world, boasting an annual attendance of more than 6 million people who drink more than 7.7 Million liters of Oktoberfest Beer.
The origin of Oktoberfest stretches back to October 12th 1810, when King Ludwig I of Bavaria married Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghoausen. Although it was not typical, the citizens of Munich were invited to celebrate the wedding. The festival has changed a lot since then. The beer too has changed to accommodate large quantities of consumption.
Originally, the beer brewed for the Oktoberfest was much higher in alcohol content and richer, similar to that of the German Bocks. Now it is a lighter in body Marzen lager. Official Oktoberfest beers must adhere to the Reinheitsgebot (or "German Beer Purity Law") and be produced inside the limits of Munich. There are only six official Oktoberfests produced. But that doesn’t keep the majority of craft breweries throughout th world brewing up something similar in the fall and naming it “Octoberfest.”
Here are two good ones that are joining the HopCat GR roster this fall:
Wolverine State Brewing Co. out of Ann Arbor specializes in lagers, and has gained a reputation for “nailing styles.” This beer is no exception. You get a little biscuity malt character on the nose and palate along with a subtle caramel sweetness all while staying light and crisp. It's a beer that is the perfect pairing for all your fall activities, from tailgating to burning leaves.
Few people may realize that early colonial Americans had better access to pumpkins and brown sugar than they did malted barley. And they used the meat of the pumpkins as fermentable sugars for brewing in times of need. Although modern pumpkin ales are grown to resemble that of pumpkin pie in a glass, its important to note that pumpkin beers were one of Americas first original beer styles long before pale yellow swill that took over in the 1900’s.
Southern Tier Cold Press Coffee Pumpking is making its debut to us this fall. We have couple of barrels in house and are waiting to throw them on. I'm excited to try this beer. I know pumpkin beers are either a “love em’” or “hate em’” style, but I think the addition of coffee is a fun spin on what is already a creative American style.
The beers discussed in this blog are available at HopCat Grand Rapids. Each location has its own roster of beers. To see what's on tap at your nearest HopCat, check out the up-to-date beer menus on the webpages for each location, or simply come on by, and we're pretty sure you'll find something to enjoy. Be sure to come back to our blog for more fall beer suggestions from our experts!