Santa Fe Brewing celebrates Oktoberfest in August

Posted: August 5, 2014 by Luke in Events

Oktoberfest in August? Sure, why not?

This weekend we had a lot of fun with lederhosen, polka music, and beer-filled steins. It was Oktoberfest in Santa Fe! Well, it sure felt like it was. So only one guy wore lederhosen, the steins belonged to only the truest of beer fans, and the polka music was all in my head, but it was the release party for Santa Fe Brewing Company’s Oktoberfest beer. This was one of my favorite times of the year. Now, SFBC’s true Oktoberfest celebration with sausage and mariachis doesn’t happen until mid-October, but the festival banners were up, the Oktoberfest was tapped, and there were folks from all over gathered for the beer. So, why not get our grüve on early?

One of my favorite SFBC seasonals, the Oktoberfest beer has only gotten better with time and stays true to the Oktoberfest/Märzen style. Now, I won’t get into too much history of Oktoberfest (look for that in two months), but let’s dive into the beer. What is an Oktoberfest beer? And how many times can I cram the word Oktoberfest into one article?

The Oktoberfest beer, or Märzen style, originated in Bavaria, where at the time it was actually decreed that it was unlawful to brew between the months of April and September. As we know, lagers require colder temperatures to ferment, and so those months between were just too hot to brew for risk of bacterial infections, or worse, severe flavor bombs. So, the beer was brewed in the month of March and called “Märzen,” pronounced “Mær-tsen,” which is, you guessed it, German for March. The beer was then placed in cellars or caves to keep at cooler temperatures during the hot summer months and then served around October, or in SFBC’s case, August. This Märzen was served at the first Oktoberfest, a wedding reception for King Ludwig I and Maria Theresa; all of Bavaria came to party, and the rest was history!


Some folks really got into the theme.

I wanted to know what was typical of the Märzen style in terms of taste, so I was lucky when I ran into local homebrewer and certified beer judge from Santa Fe (and Iowa), Phil Rickert. I asked him what he thought of SFBC’s Oktoberfest. He said, “Of the four or five years that I’ve been drinking this beer, progressively, it’s gotten more true to style, which means that it’s a malty beer that has a hint of hop, has a very rich, complex flavor, with a very smooth finish, and a medium mouthfeel. And I think this year is the best they’ve done. It’s a good beer! It’s one of the best ones I’ve had in the United States.” It took the entire team at SFBC to make that possible, so to all of them, I say gut gemacht! And of course, dankeschön!

I also spoke to a Belgian beer fanatic named Glen, from Southern California/Illinois. Santa Fe’s Oktoberfest was his first experience with a German-style craft beer. When asked what he thought of it, he said, “The Oktoberfest was just a really smooth, good, non-abrasive beer for me, and I really enjoyed it.” Of all the people I spoke to that day, everyone seemed pretty pleased with the Oktoberfest, maybe none more pleased than SFBC general manager Alana Jones.


Pretty darned authentic, isn’t it?

I asked Alana to tell me a little bit about Santa Fe’s Oktoberfest and she said, with the grin of a winning coach, “We use Vienna and Munich malts, German Tettnanger hops and German Hallertau hops. We try to keep it pretty classic. It has those toasty and sweet malt notes up front, and then cleans up really crisp, has a clean lager finish.” First released in 2010 as her husband, Nick Jones’ creation, their recipe hasn’t changed much, and for good reason. “It’s the quintessential fall beer,” she said, and I couldn’t agree more.

The fall Oktoberfest release party is certainly not SFBC’s only event at the brewery and taproom this year. “We do beer release parties quarterly for every seasonal,” Alana said. “We also occasionally have release parties for ‘One-offs,’ or barrel-aged beers. We’re coming up with a new beer series called the ‘Ever-Changing Series,’ and the first release is going to be a white IPA, so we’ll have a party for that as well. Any excuse to have a party!”

And that’s what it’s all about. Way back when Bavaria had little to celebrate and nearly no extra funds for a lavish reception, they brought beer and invited everyone to the party. They’ve been doing it ever since. If I’ve learned anything about craft beer, it’s that it brings people together in a positive way, and when that happens, any reason is a good reason to celebrate the season. I can’t think of a better beer for bringing people together than Oktoberfest.


— Luke

  1. […] at the brewery, just off of highway 14, at 35 Fire Place. Not to be confused with their Oktoberfest (Beer) Release Party, which I wrote about in August, this will be the real deal, whole enchilada, and sauerkraut meal. […]

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