In 1810 the citizens of Munich were invited to festivities to celebrate the royal marriage of Prince Ludwig and Princess Therese. The celebration was held on the fields in front of the gates of the city, named Theresienwiese (Theresa's fields) in honour of the Princess ever since. Horse races held in the presence of the Royal family brought the festivities to a close, with the decision to repeat the horse races in the subsequent year giving rise to the tradition of the Oktoberfest. While the horse races are no longer held, the small beer stands that served refreshments in those early days have certainly grown with over six million visitors to the event each year.
The traditional style of Oktoberfest beer is a Märzen. Before refrigeration it was nearly impossible to brew beer during Germany’s hot summer months as it could easily become infected during brewing. In fact, due to a law created in 1553 it was illegal to brew between 24th of April and 28th of September. To maintain the supply of beer a stronger and hoppier beer was brewed in March (März in German) and stored in cool cellars over the summer months before being brought up in August or September.
The Märzen style as it was then would have been quite different from today’s understanding of the style and perhaps closer to a Dunkel or Schwarzbier, a dark lager with a roasted character. It was not until improvements in English malting technology brought lighter kilned malts, thereby ushering in paler beers.
Having studied malting techniques in England, Gabriel Sedlmayr II, owner of the Spaten brewery, developed lighter Munich malt and from it the modern Märzen style. His pale Märzen was first sold at the Oktoberfest in 1872 and its popularity soon lead other brewers to follow suit. Spaten Oktoberfest still retains ‘Ur-Märzen’, original Märzen, on its label today. Try Spaten Oktoberfest for yourself, currently on offer at 5 for €10 in store.
We also have a range of other German beer styles. So, celebrate your own Oktoberfest by filling your stein with a range of beer styles from dark beer like classic Helles lagers like Weihenstephaner Helle and wheat beers like Paulaner to modern hoppy IPAs such as And Union Sunday Pale Ale.
Please note prices are correct at time of publishing, these offers will end on 3rd November 2019, please check our website or stores for the most up to date pricing.