Ah… something very near and dear to my heart. Beer! Not only beer, but Oktoberfest beer! This is Trader Joe’s “Josephsbrau” Oktoberfest beer ($6.49 in WA state. Which is a great deal). It brings back so many memories of the two years I spent in Munich when I was in college (It’s a long story, but there used to be an American university in Munich). I spent waaaay too much time drinking beer and not enough time studying. I guess I turned out OK, but sooo much beer. When the weather starts to turn cooler it’s time to fire up the grill, make some bratwurst and get a giant pretzel and sit at the long beer tables so familiar at Oktoberfest and slowly suck down a mass (1 liter) of beer.
Actually, this beer called Oktoberfest is hard to find at the actual festival. The beer they serve at the festival is more of a Helles lager style beer called a “Festbier”, pale yellow and easy to drink. The actual name for the Oktoberfest style of beer is called “Märzen” after the month of March in German because that’s when it was traditionally brewed and stored until the next fall. Oktoberfest is closely related to Vienna lager and according to history was an offshoot of that style of beer, amber, lightly hopped lager shortly after lager yeast was first isolated about 170 years ago. Mostly brewed at the end of the brewing season in the spring to be “lagered” or stored for several months and opened in the middle of September as the first new beer of the season.
Since my days in Munich, I have spent way too much time studying beer and making homebrew so I know a bit about beer styles. As with all the Josephsbrau beers, these are made by Gordon Biersch in California. GB makes some of the most authentic German styled beers you can buy in the USA and I am so happy that Trader Joe’s signed a deal with Gordon Biersch to brew these beers at such a great price.
The beer is a crisper, lighter version of a Vienna style lager. You can look up the style guidelines here at the Beer Judge Certification Program’s website) It has that slightly spicy edge that comes from all that vienna malt, but brewed in a way that doesn’t leave a lot of sweetness. Some examples, especially in the USA tend to be too sweet for me. There is almost no hop aroma and the smell is all malt all day long. This is kind of the antithesis of a hoppy, cloudy IPA. Most lagers focus on a malt profile, which I like beers like because they are easier to drink, especially when you want to have a couple.
If you want something to match the weather in October and onward, then this might be a perfect match for you. You simply can’t beat it at this price. ($6.49 in WA state). As an Oktoberfest beer goes, I want to give it 8 Bells!