Oktoberfest and Seasonal Beers this fall!

A photo that says Oktoberfest with Germany's colors

Finally it’s Oktoberfest season! There are a lot of beer and Oktoberfest events going on all around San Diego for a couple of weeks now. Oktoberfest originates in Germany, but the tradition has spread to several countries through beer enthusiasts. For all of you who are looking for guidance during Oktoberfest, here are some tips and research from SOCC!

We’ve been asking the local San Diego breweries about trends and seasonal beers, and we also hosted an Oktoberfest tasting of our own at the SOCC office. For you who are looking for quick recommendations on what to try out for Oktoberfest 2017, here’s what we’ve got!

First thing’s first. Beer is the highlight of Oktoberfest and every fall you can find seasonal beer and beer special made just for Oktoberfest. There are a few festivals around town including our two favorites, the La Mesa Oktoberfest and El Cajon Oktoberfest.

Oktoberfest Flavors. Pumpkin and cinnamon are typical fall flavors and Ballast Point has created two distinctively popular 2017 Oktoberfest beers. One called Pumpkin Down is a typical autumn beer, an ale made of pumpkin and spices, and they also serve Dead Ringer, a lager with the taste of toffee, caramel and malt. The Pumpkin Down reminds us of caramel and toffee, in accordance with Ballast Point’s own description. It is a malty beer, and, in our opinion, it would go well with a nice cornbread or maybe a pumpkin risotto!

Ballast Point
 also brews experimental beers– different ones in each brewery, and if it gets popular, the more they crank out! Zaran Vienna Lager is an example of an experimental beer with a distinct saffron flavor, which would do great during the holidays and at Christmas!

Societe Brewing has a different take on adapting to the concept of Oktoberfest. When we asked them what kind of seasonal beer they are brewing they answered:

“We don’t adhere to seasonal brewing, but we are big fans of Oktoberfest. Each year we brew Die Kellnerin, our 4.5% alcohol-by-volume Oktoberfest-style lager. All of them will pair with Diie Kellnerin, which is our modern take on a Festbier. Stylistically, it is a lower-alcohol hybrid of a Dortmunder export beer, coming across lighter than a traditional Marzen or Vienna lager.”

There are many ways to take a part of Oktoberfest in San Diego, Societe Brewing had their annual Societe Oktoberfest Celebration this Saturday, September 30. Their Kearny Mesa tasting room turned into a blue and white German beer hall with Munish-styled pintsmen and pintswomen, and there’s also a local food truck from Biersal, serving a menu of classic German, beer-infused delights, all to get a feeling of Oktoberfest!

Another way to celebrate Oktoberfests coming up in San Diego is to visit PB Ale House for their specially made dish for the season: beer brat with sautéed pepper, onion and mustard served on a pretzel roll. The traditional German ingredients are paired with a Spaten Oktoberfest beer. For those who are wondering what else is up at PB Ale House besides Oktoberfest, you can look forward to a brand new Halloween beer, so new it doesn’t even have a name yet. All we know is that it contains the flavors pumpkin, cinnamon and nutmeg. According to PB Ale House a big trend in the beer industry is beer cocktails and you should keep an eye out for their own beer cocktail called Cali Dreamin’!

More trends in the beer industry right now are IPA’s, there is no doubt about that. Ballast Point serve their popular IPA’s this fall, Big Eye IPA and Sculpin IPA, while Societe Brewing have chosen not to brew any IPAs at all and are sticking to the traditional ways of brewing instead. Brandon Hernandez, Chief Marketing Officer at Societe Brewing, explains their way of thinking:

Aside from beer, breweries are shifting to a model that allows them to better service their immediate geographic area – their communities and neighbors – versus growing into giant corporations distributing nationally and internationally.”

Photo of Dogfish Head's Pumpkin Ale 2017

Need some suggestions on what beers to buy for your upcoming Oktoberfest celebration? Here are Snake Oil’s thoughts on five interesting, local fall beer after trying them out ourselves!

 Dogfish Head is a craft brewery in Delaware and we tried their Punkin Ale. A fun fact about the brewery is that the pumpkins used in this beer are grown on site solely for the drink! The beer is lighter, less spicy and it’s crisp. Our suggestion for food pairing is to serve the beer with turkey or duck. If you have other preferences we suggest any food a bit more gamey rather than sweet.

 Ayinger‘s Oktober Fest Märzen. is a partially roasted Bavarian Oktoberfest beer made of Bavarian yeast and malt. The taste reminds us of caramel corn, and is a bit doughy.

 Mike Hess Brewing Company just celebrated their 7th anniversary! We selected their Oktoberhess which is actually a marzan beer, and that means it is the closest beer to an Oktoberfest styled beer. Their Oktoberhess is light and not super malt forward. It has a hot bite at the very end.

 Sierra Nevada has their own seasonal beer simply called Oktoberfest. This beer comes from a brewery located in Chico. It is a very easily drunk beer with a sweet, smooth and dry taste. It is also doughy, and a bit grassy.

Stone Brewing serves a belgian-style beer which was first created with real carrots, walnuts and walnut extract called 24 Carrot Golden Ale. The original recipe contains gold flakes. We found the beer tastes like carrot, is creamy and sweet at the very end. If you serve the beer room tempered instead of cooled its sweetness gets brought out, instead of the maltiness. It actually tastes like carrot cake!

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