The annual Oktoberfest celebration in Munich is famously the world’s biggest beer event, with more than six million people attending the event every year. Typically, it runs for nearly three weeks beginning in mid-September until early October.
It was first held in 1810 to celebrate the wedding of Prince Ludwig and Princess Therese, and has been an annual event ever since. In more than 200 years, it has only been cancelled because of wars, economic disruption in the 1920s, and now, sadly, the COVID-19 pandemic. For now we can only fantasize about being part of a crowd of happy people in one of the giant tents, hefting giant one-litre steins of beer and singing along to the oompah band.
However, many BC craft breweries produce German-style beers, including their own versions of the traditional Festbiers or Märzens served at Oktoberfest each autumn. These are delicious lagers that are brewed to be slightly stronger and darker (more amber than yellow) than the typical Helles (light) lagers that German breweries make year-round. Other popular German styles include Dunkel (dark lager), Hefeweizen (wheat ale with a surprising banana-like flavour), and Bock (stronger lagers with a rich, sweet character).
Here are some German-style beers from the BC Ale Trail to sample as part of your very own Oktoberfest celebration at home. Pros’t!
Oktoberfest Lager - Persephone Brewing (Gibsons)
5.8% ABV | 20 IBU
This traditional strong German-style amber lager features notes of bread crust and toffee, and pairs well with a nice wurst from your local butcher.
Ludwig Festbier - Strange Fellows Brewing (Vancouver)
5.4% ABV | 25 IBU
This special release is brewed with German-imported floor-malted grains and continental Hallertau Tradition hops. The result is an exceptionally clean and smooth beer with an elegant malt character and floral hop finish.
Marzen - R&B Brewing (Vancouver)
5.9% | 25 IBU
This rich Oktoberfest lager won a gold medal at the 2019 BC Beer Awards.
At Arm’s Length Märzen Lager - Torchlight Brewing (Nelson)
5% ABV | 15 IBU
Brewed in March, according to tradition, and then cellared until September, this beer pours a full amber colour with a medium body and smooth mouthfeel that gives way to a full, malty, sweet flavour and reserved hop finish.
Festbier Lager - Twa Dogs Brewery (Victoria)
6.4% ABV | 35 IBU
This beer was brewed during the initial COVID-19 lockdown, which resulted in lots of conditioning time, resulting in a smooth and malty lager.
Megalomaniac Märzen - Silver Valley Brewing (Maple Ridge)
6% ABV | 20 IBU
This smooth malty lager will fit perfectly into any Oktoberfest celebration. Pair it with bratwurst, schnitzel, or a fresh soft pretzel topped with a seedy mustard.
1827 Helles Lager - Trading Post Brewing (Langley)
5% ABV | 21 IBU
Helles (light) lager is a staple in every Bavarian brewery’s line-up. This one features a subdued hop profile with a light malt character. It is brewed with the finest Bohemian floor-malted barley and Hallertau Mittelfruh hops.
Dark Lager - Steel & Oak Brewing (New Westminster)
5% ABV | 27 IBU
Another staple beer you’ll find everywhere in Germany, this Dunkel (dark lager) from Steel & Oak has won multiple awards at the BC Beer Awards and Canadian Brewing Awards over the years.
Visit BC Ale Trail to find more new and favourite beers to sip and savour this fall.