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04/09/20202 min of reading

What is a Festbier / Oktoberfestbier style beer?

You've probably heard of Oktoberfest, the German beer festival that takes place every September in Munich. Did you know that there is a style of beer named after this famous festival? Saveur Bière tells you all about this German beer style!

What is a Festbier / Oktoberfestbier style beer? 

Oktoberfestbier or Festbier is a German-style of low fermentation beer that is very similar to lagers in its blonde color but also in the fact that it is fermented at a cooler temperature than ales. We could also define it as a German blonde lager relatively soft and limpid in the mouth.

In terms of flavours, you can discover moderately malty beers with light notes of toast, bread dough, and sugar. Although the hop and herbaceous aromas are not very present in this style of beer, the bitterness balances out perfectly with the malt. 

This style of beer is brewed mainly with Malt Pilsner but can be supplemented with other types of malts such as Vienna malt or Munich malt to enrich the malt flavors of the beer. As for fermentation, Festbiers are fermented in the same way as Lagers: with bottom fermentation.

Style oktoberfestbier

Where does this style come from?

Although it was said from the start that Festbier is similar to a Lager, it is nevertheless derived from the Marzën beer style.

Indeed, the original beer style of Oktoberfest was Marzën. For decades, Marzëns or March beers were served at Oktoberfest, until 1872 when Gabriel Sedlmayr, Franziskaner's master brewer, noticed that the beer landscape was changing. Pils had become the new brewing trend in Europe. So he started brewing a pale amber recipe that was so successful that it was copied by many breweries and then became the new benchmark for Marzën. 

A century later, in the mid-1970s, it was the turn of the Paulaner Brewery to decide that the Marzën style was not the ideal beer for the Oktoberfest festivities. She found this type of beer too heavy and not light enough. The Paulaner Brewery has therefore experimented with several brews in order to obtain a beer that is reasonably more malty, light, and less heavy than the Marzën, which would be easier to drink, in large quantities and to that could be enjoyed continuously during the festivities. This is how the Festbier / Oktoberfestbier was born!

Since 1990, the beers served during the Munich Oktoberfest have mostly been of the Festbier / Oktoberfestbier style.

Illustration oktoberfestbier

Which dishes go best with the Festbier / Oktoberfestbier? 

Of course, like the Marzën, the Festbier is perfect to pair with dishes served at Oktoberfest such as weisswurst sausages, pretzels, or Bavarian roast pork. But it also goes very well with grilled or roasted meat dishes such as grilled chicken or barbecued meat.

For desserts and cheese, it is better to combine Festbier with relatively mild cheeses such as Emmental or Gouda, or with sweet desserts with a slight nutty flavour such as a walnut pie or a praline brioche.

Find out more:

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