by Brendon O’Brien
When most people think of Oktoberfest they imagine crowds of people swigging beer from mugs as big as their heads with pretzels equally as immense. Most don’t know that the true meaning of this festival was a celebration of love dating back to the early 1800s. When King Ludwig I married Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen in 1810 they extended wedding invitations to the people of Munich, who gathered in the fields before the city gates. It was a grand event with all the riches of a royal wedding combined with the time-honored tradition of an opulent horse race. The ceremony ended with singing from a student choir and thus the celebration of the royal love came to an end. However, the following year, the pageantry, celebration, horse races and grand nature of their celebration was repeated and this was the beginning of the Oktoberfest we all know and envision when we hear the word.
It is only fitting for a celebration of love to be treated as such all these years later. For those that can’t make the pilgrimage to Munich, here are a few great ways to celebrate at home with things we truly love…. great beer and decadent food. Only beer brewed in accordance with the German purity law (water, malt, hops and yeast) and within the city limits of Munich can be featured at Oktoberfest, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of fantastic odes to this historic style. Here are a few of our favorites from near and far. Be sure to try some of our favorite food pairings for an Oktoberfest at your own home…. Don’t forget the horse races!
Augustiner Bräu – A classic German brewery with the distinction of being a true Oktoberfest brewery located in Munich. Augustiner also boasts the friendliest tent at Oktoberfest, where the “waiters/waitresses (almost) never forget to smile, regardless of how busy or hectic it gets.” Now that’s a selling point! Their beers are pure expressions of German tradition with a nutty malt profile and crisp bite of hops. Although their festival beer can only be had at the main event, they import 2 varieties of their classic lagers that are oh-so-refreshing. Edelstoff and Maximator are light and dark lagers respectively and showcase all the subtle beauty that goes into a world class German beer.
Few things in this world are a better compliment to these delicately structured beers than the German classic Jaeger Schnitzel – fried pork cutlets smothered in a mushroom gravy. This dish is ideal for those cool fall nights when a hearty meal is the perfect blanket. Breaded pork cutlets are complimented with a sauce comprised of yellow onions, diced bacon, cremini mushrooms and beef stock. For an added layer of complexity, coat the pork cutlets with a good German mustard before breading. This will add a spicy kick and keep your cutlets moist.
One of our favorite American breweries is Jack’s Abby from Framingham, Massachusetts. Their beers exhibit great finesse, balance and are benchmarks of their respective styles. It is no surprise that their fall release, Copper Legend, is a beautiful representation of the German Märzen style. With a light, malty sweetness reminiscent of honey and the gentle piney spice of authentic German hops, this beer keeps your interest peaked while also being incredibly easy drinking. Copper Legend also features Massachusetts grown wheat for a nice creamy texture in an already quaffable lager.
The sweet malt character of this beer is a beautiful partner for a creamy, spice laden cheese spread known as Obatzda. This spread is one of the greatest things to dip a giant soft pretzel in! It is made of a blend of soft cheese like Camembert, butter, a splash of beer, garlic, paprika and salt & pepper. This cheese spread can also be used on bratwurst sandwiches or anywhere you might normally use pimento cheese. For a richer, more decadent spread add crème fraiche or farmers cheese to the mixture.
Sierra Nevada has long been at the forefront of the American craft beer revolu tion and it is no surprise that they bring a unique focus to their Oktoberfest release. Each year Sierra partners with a different German brewery to bring us a one-off fall sipper. This year’s partnership is with Brauhaus Miltenberger and has been met with much acclaim- a full-bodied take on the traditional style where the caramel, bread and toast notes dominate the palate and account for the beer’s deep golden hue. A beautiful marriage of cultures, just like the original Oktoberfest celebration!
We urge you all to get festive this fall and sample a slice of Oktoberfest in your own home. DeCicco & Sons have you covered for all the ingredients you need to make an Oktoberfest feast… and the beer… we certainly have the beer. Prost!