Ein Prosit, ein Prosit — yep, it’s the time for the Oktoberfest beers, the malty brews that celebrate the world’s largest beer fest in Munich, Germany. The style is called Marzen (March) as, before refrigeration existed, it was necessary to brew the beer in the spring and store it until the fall. Brewed with large quantities of Munich malt and lightly bittered with German noble hops, the resulting beer can run the gamut from golden to deep copper in color. Additions of Vienna or crystal malts may add some toastiness or sweetness to the final product.
Starting Saturday, Sept. 21, and ending Oct. 6, the 180th Oktoberfest opened with the tapping of the first keg by the mayor of Munich. “O’zapft is,”he declared to thousands of thirsty attendees cheering him on. Then let the pouring begin!
After all is said and done, more than 6 million liters of beer will be served and hundreds of tons of chicken, beef and pork will be consumed by hungry drinkers. A “Mass”(1 liter glass) will be between 9,4 to 9,6 Euros this year, which is $12.39 to $12.65 per beer. That’s a lot of money, but the event is amazing and is worth at least one visit.
If you do plan on attending sometime, be sure to make your reservations far in advance. The hotels sell out quickly and seats in the tents are gone shortly after they go on sale. The seats only need to be reserved for the evening sessions. If you wish to attend in the afternoon, the tents are open to the public and you can enjoy a semi-quiet meal and a few liters without the thousands of inebriated extras singing at the top of their lungs.
There are 14 large tents and 20 small tents. Only those breweries that are in Munich may sell their wares at Oktoberfest — Augustiner, Paulaner, Spaten, Lowenbrau, Hacker-Pschorr and Hofbrau are all there for your drinking pleasure. But don’t expect to get what you can find here or in their pubs. The beer served in the tents is markedly different from what is exported or sold in their pubs. Though many will deny it, the beer has been “dumbed down” for the American palate as many of the attendees come from the United States.
Two of my favorite imports and what I consider perfect examples of the style are Paulaner and Hacker-Pschorr. A wide selection of these beers should be available at Joe Canal’s in Egg Harbor Township, Circle Liquor in Somers Point, White Horse Liquor and Roger-Wilco.
Of course, locally there are some wonderful beers brewed fresh. Tun Tavern in Atlantic City has their wonderfully malty version on tap as will Iron Hill’s various locations. Stoudt’s from Adamstown, Pa., is a wonderful brewery that excels in their German brewing techniques and makes an excellent Oktoberfest. Flying Fish produces their Oktoberfish this time of year, too, and has an excellent malt profile. Brooklyn Brewing brews up a tasty one also. Heavy Seas brews their Marzen year round but also produces a 9-percent malt bomb for fall called Prosit! Be sure to seek these excellent examples out.
Check out Mickie & Minnies in Galloway, Rio Station in Rio Grande Oct. 4 through Oct. 6, Historic Smithville on Oct. 5 and Oct. 6, and Tropicana Casino and Resort from Oct. 6 to Oct. 12 for great German cuisine and beers. Gesundheit!
On Thursday, Sept. 26, there is a Dogfish Head Dinner at Village Whiskey. It will feature DFH’s Ancient Ales series with five courses of Chef Jose Garces’ excellent food. The event is $75 plus tax and gratuity, and reservations are needed. With a limit of 30 people, you need to check and see if seats are available. Call 609-225-9880 for info.
On Friday, Sept. 27, Golden Nugget Atlantic City will host a beer dinner at Vic & Anthony’s highlighting beers from Brewery Ommegang. A preview of Saturday’s Golden Nugget fest at the Bayview Room, pay as you go, and sushi and beer pairings are offered at Lillies all weekend, too.
On Saturday, Sept. 28 there are two beer fests in A.C. The first is at Resorts Casino Resort from 2 to 6 p.m. and then Golden Nugget’s VIP session will start at 7p.m. with general admission at 8 p.m.
On Friday, Oct. 4, The Palm inside the Tropicana is holding a Sam Adams Beer Dinner with a reception at 6:30 p.m. and a four-course dinner at 7. There will be some exquisite dishes paired with Boston Beer’s best. Price is $85 for 837 Club members or $110 for non-members and includes tax and service charge.