September Beer Club

Craft Beer Club


In this month’s beer club release we’re celebrating Oktoberfest!

Oktoberfest has been running since 1810 in Germany, beginning sixteen days previous to the first Sunday in October, and then concluding on the third.  That sounds a little complicated, but what it means is that the first day of Oktoberfest 2023 is today, September 16th!  Oktoberfest began as a royal wedding, citizens of Munich were invited to engage in the celebration which included a festival, horse racing, and of course, beer drinking.  Like many other Germanic drinking traditions, Oktoberfest has laws surrounding what is served at the festival.  Two styles of beer are allowed: Märzen and Festbier.  I’ve gathered in this club two Albertan entries in these styles, along with an example of each from Paulaner, which is one of just six breweries in Germany allowed to use the Oktoberfest trademark on their beer.

The beer club releases on the third Saturday every month.  There is no sign up for our beer club, just drop by the store any time were open and pick up a pack!  The price will be between $30 and $35.


Oktoberfest Bier

True Festbier is a rarity outside of Germany and the weeks surrounding Oktoberfest, luckily I was able to get my hands on this one from Paulaner.  Festbier has overtaken Märzen as the most popular beer at Oktoberfest, in fact it was in the mid 70s when Paulaner Brewery introduced fest-goers to a lighter coloured beer than the amber beers that had dominated for the previous 100 years.  Previous to that beers were even darker, more akin to a Dunkel, as malting technology at the time could only produce dark roasted malts.  Anyway here we are with the ideal “drink several steins of” beer.  A rich golden colour, a backbone of malt that is just strong enough to be present without overpowering the light hop flavour.  The real trick to this beer is its slightly above average carbonation, which lends it well to feeling light, and therefore encouraging faster drinking.


Buy Oktoberfest Bier


Münchner Hell

So, because of the aforementioned rarity of true Oktoberfest biers, I had to go in a different direction for these next beers.  When it’s not Oktoberfest and you’re not drinking two steins before the sun sets, you drink the Munich Helles Lager.  “Hell” is german for “Bright” or “Pale”.  A Helles Lager is almost identical in ingredients to the Festbier, Pilsner malt, Hallertauer hops, and Lager yeast, ironically it contains no Munich malt, despite the name.  The key difference is in brewing style, where a Helles Lager is brought to a lower alcoholic strength and carbonation.  Poured beside the Festbier you will see a slightly brighter colour and smell a more prominent hop aroma.


Buy  Munchner Hell

Wild Winds Brewing

The Fohn Munich Helles Lager

We introduced you all to Wild Winds back in June with their Wind Warning NEIPA, well here they’re back with their first ever production beer, The Fohn.  Chinooks aren’t only found in Alberta, in Germany warm, dry, winds coming off the leeward side of mountains are known as fohn.  Obviously the biggest difference between this and the Paulaner is the use of Alberta malts from Red Shed Malting.  The hops are switched as well, using Hersbrucker hops, a common Hallertauer alternative with similar floral, fruity, notes.  A portion of the proceeds from this beer go towards Adaptable Outdoors, a charity based in Pincher Creek which focuses on allowing people with disabilities to experience the benefits of outdoor recreation.


Buy The Fohn

Eighty-Eight Brewing

Flexi Helles Lager

Eighty-Eight’s rendition of the Munich Helles definitely takes some inspiration from Festbier recipes.  Using Pilsner malt, along with Vienna and Munich additions creates a slightly more robust, bready malt aroma, and the lively carbonation encourages a lightness on the palate.  Still, this beer is firmly a Helles Lager, pouring brightly in the glass and clocking in at a mild 4.5% ABV.  This beer was one of five brewed for Eighty-Eight’s fifth birthday, and while I’ve been a long time fan of their IPA’s and pales, I’m also excited to see new and existing breweries embracing traditional styles and techniques.


Buy Flexi

I’m excited to wrap this up by putting Canmore’s oldest and newest breweries together in a Marzen Match-up!  The history of Marzens goes back to 1553 when it was decreed that beer could only be brewed between September to April, as warm weather would produce off flavours during fermentation.  Marzen, German for March, was the last beer brewed for the season, it was a malty beer with a higher degree of alcohol.  After it would “lager”, German for “storage”, in cellars until autumn.  This resting period is part of the defining nature of all lagers, but today the period is a matter of weeks rather than days.  Sheepdog’s Marzen was lagered for a period of five weeks, for example.


This is a fun comparison, and funny enough its my opinion that the names should be switched!  Grizzly Paw’s Watzmann is stylistically much more similar to a Festbier with its deep golden colour, floral hop aroma, and high carbonation.  On the other hand, Sheepdog’s Oktoberfest is a textbook example of a Marzen, featuring an amber colour with caramel maltiness, very mellow floral, citrusy hops, and low carbonation.  Of course this is merely my observation, hopefully the brewer’s don’t show up at the store with pitchforks in hand!


Looking to celebrate Oktoberfest this weekend?  Sheepdog festivities continue tonight at 3pm, and Grizzly Paw’s Tank 310 will have live music tonight from 4-7pm and tomorrow from 2-5pm.  It’s a great weekend to get out and support local, Prost!

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