Home / Oktober in August: It’s Too Hot Out For Oktoberfest Beer

Oktober in August: It’s Too Hot Out For Oktoberfest Beer

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I was waltzing around the beer aisle the other day, hoping to pick up a nice Spaten Assortment Pack (Optimator, Spaten Lager, Franziskaner) and noticed a very strange and unnerving phenomenon: the place was littered with Oktoberfest brews of seemingly every brewer in existence. What was going on here? It’s the exact middle of August and I’m already being burdened with the task of making my Oktoberfest selections for the fall season? Has the whole world gone mad? Well, let me slow down here a second and better explain myself.

Let’s get the facts out first: For those not in the know, Oktoberfest is a huge, 16 day (sometimes 17 or 18 depending on when the first Sunday in October falls) festival in Munich, Bavaria, Germany. It is a celebration of beer, food, beer, good times, and, did I mention, beer. Over 6 million people visit the great festival every year and a good time is surely had by all (if they can remember).

What that all means for us here in the states is that we get flooded with some fantastic German, and not so German, Oktoberfest brews as we enter the cooler autumn months. And what a fantastic time it is: the leaves are changing color, there is a crisp nip to the air, and lighter beers of summer give way to the heartier, but still crisp and refreshing, beers of Oktoberfest (which then lead us faithfully into the even heartier beers of winter). Fact is, I absolutely love the beers of Oktoberfest, and with so many different brewers that get in on the action there is plenty to choose.

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Now, you may be asking why, if I love Oktoberfest so much, am I in such a huff about seeing them infiltrate the beer aisle? The answer is really quite simple: because it’s still summertime! Do I want a hearty brown ale after I just mowed the lawn in the 95 degree heat with generous helping of humidity? Heck no! Is that even possible in the fabric of reality? Seems like that would put us all at some sort of beer nexus of the universe, with autumnal beers colliding with summer heat and causing some kind of alternate reality rift that only a Delorean and a bolt of lightning could fix. (A what? A bolt of lightning!)

I know, I know, Oktoberfest actually starts in September (September 18 this year I believe). And I know that, much like Christmas decorations start showing up on Halloween, companies (and brewers) like to get their product out into the market stat! But come on man, is nothing sacred? Can we not wait until the 1st of September? Or at least the last week of August? That would still give us all plenty of time to build up a powerful Oktoberfest stockade.

I suppose I could have just accepted the fact that, at least according to beer brewers, you should start imbibing Oktoberfest beers in mid August. And I also suppose I could have stocked up now, put them in the fridge, and just forgot about them until September. But I just couldn’t do it. Aside from a serious space issue (hey, we only have one fridge), the whole idea of Oktoberfest in August is just, as I said earlier, unnerving. And so, with that in mind, I did what any self respecting beer man would do: I purchased my Spaten Assortment Pack and walked quietly out into the humid dew, happy to still be a part of summertime.

Of course, I’ll be back in a few weeks to pick up some Oktoberfest.

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  • This is really interesting!

  • Miguel

    The Oktoberfest is the best “fest” ever. We say “feucht-fröhlich” in German. Very good article.

  • Hello! Thank you for posting this interesting article! I really liked it and wanted to thank you for posting it! Tom

    BTW: My site provides online German language lessons http://www.deutsch-kurse.biz/english

  • Johnny C.

    All the breweries at Oktoberfest (Munich and elsewhere) offer up a heifeweizen, actually. And it’s historically been the beer for the ladies.

  • I had the Lowenbrau a few years back as well and I was pretty impressed and did notice that it was lighter in color as you say.

    Strange to have a Hefeweizen during Oktoberfest…to me that’s a summer beer!

    Like I said, something for everyone.

  • Johnny C.

    Oktoberfest festivals happen throughout Bavaria, btw. And, depending upon the location, the traditional beers might vary (I was at one in a small town where the beer of preference was a Hefeweizen).

    Also, the Oktoberfest beers served at the Munich Oktoberfest have morphed over the years and bear little resemblance to the “marzen” versions that are marketed in the US by German and domestic producers alike.

    If you can find the 3 liter mini-kegs of the festival beer brewed by one of the 6 Munich brewers (I found some by Lowenbrau a few years back) you will notice that their beer is light in color like a lager and a bit stronger in alcohol content.

  • doug m

    Does a/c not help?

  • That’s what I love about the world of beer: enough great varieties to suit everyone’s needs!

    I do enjoy a nice stout now and again during the summertime, it’s just so hard to look at something with the work “Oktober” in it when it’s 90+ degrees out. Of course, perhaps that’s just because I long for the cool days of autumn…

  • Kronnyj

    There is never a bad time for dark beers. I’ve been lamenting the season of light “summer” beers. Give me a beer with some flavor, dark beer on a hot day is great.

  • Very true! The Oktoberfests are incredibly drinkable and almost soft in feel. Of all beer seasons I get most excited about the beers of autumn. Last year the Sam Adams was top notch although I am always partial to the real Germans.

    Oh and Optimator is one of my all time favs. It’s so different and flavorful and truly unique.

  • TigerJo

    I LOVE the Spaten Optimator and Marzen! Oktoberfest beers are my favorite, because they usually have a low IBU and are unmarred by bitterness.