Do you ever wonder why more than 6 million people from all over the world visit Munich every year to taste their beer? Over 7.3 million liters of beer are poured every year during Oktoberfest so there must be something special. What makes Oktoberfest beer so special though? Well, we have got you covered. This article will discuss its history, unique quality, and every single special aspect that makes it special. Read on and learn!
NOTE: Due to the pandemic the next scheduled festival is 2022 (Sat, 17 Sept – Mon, 3 Oct)
Oktoberfest beer trivia
Märzen Beer 101
Märzen has its unique toasted bread taste because it is a low fermentation beer that contains up to 6% of alcohol. It has a darker color and is significantly stronger than regular beer. It got its name because it is produced every March of the year. For it to withstand the summer months and ever be perfect come September, it has ingredients that need not rely on modern refrigeration. Since it has a high hop and alcohol content, it can perfectly be served and enjoyed during Oktoberfest. Hops make Oktoberfest beer stay fresh for a longer period. The very flavor and aroma of beer (Märzen or not) are highly dependent on hops.
100% Munich Beer
Munich locals are strict when it comes to Oktoberfest beer. So much so that only Munich beers are allowed to be served during the festival. Only Munich breweries get to serve during Oktoberfest and there are only six who are duly qualified. Such a policy was deployed to ensure that Oktoberfest stays true to its Munich origin. It ensures that Oktoberfest will forever be Munich’s. So much so that the association of Munich brewers had Oktoberfestbier® registered as a trademark. The association of Munich brewers has the sole right to such a trademark.
Munich Magic 6
Only six Munich breweries are qualified to serve during Oktoberfest and they are as follows:
They are the breweries that can serve their beer during Oktoberfest because they are the only ones who have to pass the strict standards of the Edict of Purity. Yep, the law regulates the quality of beer served in Oktoberfest. To know more about the different beers served from different breweries, do visit Thirsty Swagman.
The Edict of Purity
The law that regulates the quality of Oktoberfest beer is over 500 years old. It was enacted in 1945 and was made law in April 1516. It was Duke Wilhelm IV of Bavaria who had it made effective in Munich. The edict strictly mandated that beer production in Bavaria will only involve the following: water, barley, and hops. Yes, you read it right. Yeast is not included. This is because fermentation wasn’t a thing yet way back in 1516. It was only introduced by Louis Pasteur during the beginning of the 19th century.
How did they create beer when fermentation wasn’t a thing yet?
Munich’s magic six had their own technique. What they would do is they would collect fermentation from the bottom of a previous brew and use it for the next batch. Such bottom fermentation had solid microorganisms that allowed for a stellar brewing process. If no bottom fermentation is available, additional tubs are prepared and the brewers wait for the yeast to naturally appear.
The Edict of Purity is not all about material restriction and ingredient concentration. It also tackled safety. The law mandated people to strictly use hops as preservatives because medieval people had poor conservation practices. So much so that they even use Amanita muscaria, soot, and wood shavings. Thanks to the Edict of Purity, we can all freely enjoy Oktoberfest beer without any toxic effects! The Edict of Purity was very clear in its terms and penalized breweries that didn’t comply. Such breweries get their barrels of beer and ingredients confiscated.
The Evolution of the Edict of Purity
Apart from safe beer consumption, the Edict of Purity was also big in ensuring that no major ingredient for bread production is used for beer. It also fixed beer pricing and allowed beer to be easily enjoyed by all. So much so that come 1906, the entire German Empire adopted the Edict of Purity.
Today’s Beer Law
Germans today now have The Beer Law (Biergesetz) which is largely based on the Edict of Purity. It promotes excellence in the high-quality production of beer and now allows formerly prohibited ingredients to be used like sugarcane and wheat malt. The Beer Law now prohibits breweries to use unmalted barley.
Excellence is key
Does your country have a specific law that dictates the quality of served beer? If it does, then you’re probably German. If it does not, then now you know the reason why people flock to Munich during Oktoberfest. Munich breweries have perfected their art and method for hundreds of years under a strict edict that requires nothing less than stellar excellence. This is why Oktoberfest beer is so special. This is why Oktoberfest beer is so unique. If you have yet to try it, then it’s time to schedule a visit to Munich. It’d be all the better if you’d visit during Oktoberfest itself! Enjoy!