Many people believe that Oktoberfest (or Märzen or Märzen-Oktoberfestbier) beers are brewed in October. This is not true. While they are certainly consumed in October, most of these beers were traditionally made in March. As is true with most European-derived beer styles, Oktoberfest beer has deep historical origins dating all the way back to the year 1810.
Many many years ago, before ample refrigeration technology existed, concerns of infection prohibited brewing during hotter summer months. For this reason, brewers in Bavaria made beer in March before the hotter summer months arrived. Beer was brewed at a higher alcohol concentration to in part provide longevity to the beer. This beer was stored in ice caves and consumed over the course of the summer months. When the temperatures began to drop in fall, and brewing was again permissible, there would be a festival to drink the remaining beer that survived the summer. Hence, Oktoberfest was born.
The historical traditions have survived to modern times; Oktoberfest is the largest beer celebration in the world. Some 6+ million people congregate in Munich during the last two weeks of September and the first week of October. A series of huge tents house some 10,000 people each. An authentic Oktoberfestbier is only sanctioned within the confines of Munich. The list of current Oktoberfestbier breweries are: Augustiner, Hacker Pschorr, Hofbräu, Löwenbräu, Paulaner, and Spaten.
Recently, Flying Bison kingpin Tim Herzog experienced Oktoberfest with his family and a few million friends. Here’s a picture of Tim and his family enjoying the festivities.
True to Oktoberfestbier roots, Flying Bison in Buffalo, NY offers Bisonfest lager. For those who are wondering, Gemütlichkeit describes a space or state of warmth, friendliness, and good cheer.
Here are pictures of my Bisonfest beer I recently purchased at a local supermarket.
Flying Bison Brewing Company: Bisonfest
Style: Märzen / Oktoberfest
Rating: 87 rating and #24 in style at Beeradvocate.com
Bisonfest is authentic and true to style in every parameter. The color is a traditional dark copper, and the aroma is predominantly malt and biscuity with a hint of spice. The flavor is full-bodied and rich in malt. There are caramel and toast flavors as well. The malts do a nice job hiding the 6.3% ABV. There are very little hops to be detected, but they do add a gentle balance of spice. Bisonfest is highly drinkable, and really a nice fall seasonal beer.
You might not be able to afford a trip to Munich for Oktoberfest, but Bisonfest will be available right here in Buffalo for you to enjoy. Prost!