When the first crisp breezes of autumn are in the air, you know it’s time for Oktoberfest – that boisterous celebration of Bavarian heritage that despite its name falls in mid-September, heralded by clinking steins and the joyous pulse of oompah music.
Marzen, the style of lager traditionally drunk at Oktoberfest, is named for the month of March, when it was produced in compliance with medieval Bavarian law that prohibited brewing during the summer months.
Given that Oktoberfest beers are consumed in full liter increments, it’s no surprise that they are known for supreme drinkability. But don’t mistake this genre for swill – here are three unique American and German Marzens that make excellent complements to some of the world’s finest cheeses.
Oktoberfest Marzen-style Lager
Blue Point Brewing Company (Patchogue, NY)
Consider this your warmup round, or appetizer – a light, sweet, floral, thirst-quenching brew that invites savory accompaniments and thus lends itself to a wide range of possible cheese pairings.
- A golden-hued, light bodied, very balanced and highly quaffable lager
- Pleasant yeasty and floral aromas accompany a dominant malty sweetness – a perfect complement to equally light bodied, but lemony and tangy soft goat’s milk cheeses
- It’s so easy to drink this beer, you might forget to move on to the next two if you’re not careful!
Cheese Pairings: Humboldt Fog, Chabichou du Poitou, Pico Picandine, Westfield Farm Capri, Bucheron
2017 Oktoberfest Marzen-style Lager
Sierra Nevada (Chico, CA) & Brauhaus Miltenberger (Miltenberg, Germany)
With this American-German collaboration, Sierra Nevada and Brauhaus Miltenberger offer a brew that packs more punch without sacrificing drinkability. Its forward hoppiness does well with cheddars and fudgy Alpine style cheeses.
- Deep, hazy amber tone with aromas of dewy grass and subtle tangerine notes
- Creamy mouthfeel with a focused citrus-peel bitterness that conditions the taste buds for a rich, nutty and tangy pairing – think American cheddars and Alpine-style cheeses
- There’s more here to be savored, but don’t mistake this for sipping beer. Drink, eat, repeat!
Pairings: 5 Spoke Creamery Tumbleweed, Cabot Clothbound Cheddar, Consider Bardwell Rupert, Pleasant Ridge Reserve, Milton Creamery Flory’s Truckle
Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier Smoked Marzen-style Lager
Brauerei Heller (Bamberg, Germany)
The final selection, from Bavaria’s historic Brauerei Heller, fires on all cylinders, making it a superb accompaniment to strong, buttery blues and sweet fruit preserves.
- Dark mahogany color, with aromas of smoke and black cherry syrup
- Light to medium body, with a slightly tart lingering finish, this Marzen nevertheless drinks like a heavier beer due to the intensity of the smoke
- Time for dessert – sip this bad boy alongside a rich, creamy blue cheese topped with cherries in syrup or preserved walnuts
Pairings: Chiriboga Blue, Persille de Rambouillet, Cambozola Black Label, Point Reyes Original Blue Cheese, Fourme d’Ambert
Written by: Tyler Frankenberg, Murray’s Cheese