Ocktoberfest in Germany actually takes place in the last week of September and the first week of October (Sep. 21- Oct. 6 this year). Anywhere from five to seven million people attend this annual event, which started in 1810 as a wedding party for Crown Prince Ludwig of Bavaria, which lasted five days culminated by a horse race. About fifty thousand hectoliters (a hectoliter is one thousand liters) are consumed each year during the festivities.

Octoberfest style beer is the same as marzen. This beer was originally brewed in March for consumption in October. This style is amber-red in color and slightly higher in alcohol. The balance is on the malty side with just enough hop bitterness to keep it from being to sweet.

In our local area many breweries make an Octoberfest style, Gordon Biersch serves their Marzen year round and Sudwerk Brewery in Davis also makes an excellent Marzen. Every year more and more breweries are making seasonal beers and most of the local multi-tap establishments keep a few of these varieties on tap. I have mentioned Toronado on Haight Street before as a good place to sample several varieties of beer. Over in Oakland in the Rockrige area there are two within three blocks of each other on College Avenue, Barclay’s Restaurant and Pub and Ben and Nick’s Pub. Cato’s Ale House on Piedmont Avenue also in Oakland, Jupiter on Shattuck Avenue in Berkeley and The Concord Depot in Concord all feature a variety of styles from different breweries.

This style of beer pairs well with the foods of Germany such as sausage, sauerkraut, pickles as well as roasted meats and cheeses.  However it is not necessary to limit yourself to German food as these beers complement and contrast several other dishes.

One purpose of these articles is to promote experimentation in the consumption of beer. There are sixty recognized styles of beer and many variations within each style. Get out there and try some new ones and you might just find you like something you perceived as unappealing.


Chef Bruce