The most wonderful time of the year!
Kalispell Brewing Company’s annual Oktoberfest celebration is rapidly approaching. It is this month, by the way, Saturday September 22nd to be exact. In honor of this much anticipated event (and because I’m a bit of a history nerd) I thought this week I would write a little something about the history of the Oktoberfest tradition.
It might not come as a shock to you that Oktoberfest is one of the longest running and most popular beer festivals in the world. What you might be surprised to find out is that the Oktoberfest beer, or bier to be more accurate, was not always the flagship brew of the original Bavarian beer festival. In fact, that copper-colored, malty beverage that we know and love today was not even served at the original beer festival for the first 62 years!
The festival was originally intended to be a one-time, city wide celebration of a Royal wedding. Like all good weddings, free beer and food was offered throughout all of Munich! There was music and dancing too, plus a horse race!
Needless to say, the wedding was a hit! Such a success in fact, that the Royal family decided to hold a similar celebration the next year.
The tradition has continued on for over 200 years!
The event is always held on the last two weeks of September. The festivities present at the original event still exist today, with food, horse racing, music, and of course bier, lots and lots of bier!
Speaking of the Bier
Depending on how familiar you are with the old German beer purification laws (lucky for us we are in the company of an expert, thanks Cole!), you may or may not know that there were a lot of restrictions on what type of beers could be served at Oktoberfest in Munich.
The major qualifying factor for a brewery to serve their beer at the celebration was just to be within the city limits. Even today, the European Union has a regulation that only certain breweries in Munich are allowed to call their beer “Oktoberfest”. This obviously doesn’t apply to us American breweries, but I digress.
Originally, most of the beer served was more often than not a dark lager, like for example, our Winter at Noon Dunkel. The malt-forward lagers were nice and sweet but not too filling for heavy drinking in the late German summer.
I’m sure many of you have been to a summer brewfest or two in your time, so you know that sometimes breweries can run out of beer, especially on the hot days! This is exactly how Oktoberfest first came onto the scene. One particular brewer, rather than admit defeat and lose his spot in the festival, decided to try something new. As a backup, he brought in a stronger Vienna-style lager and even at a higher price, it was a huge hit and began to immediately boost the popularity of bock-strength lagers.
Oktoberfest of Today
Today the Oktoberfest style has developed from a strong reddish-brown brew into a session-strength, malt-forward lager with a golden/copper color. It’s perfect for drinking all day long, while eating brats, dancing, and celebrating like a true German!
I don’t know about you, but I can almost taste the bier already. We can’t wait to share a stein or two with you all on September 22nd, here at Kalispell Brewing Company. Prost!