Red Velvet Stout & Champagne Cocktail
…from the Happy Hour Bar
How you doin’? Sadly, the 2020 Oktoberfest (in Munich) was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic and according to the official Oktoberfest.de website, it is cancelled again this year for the same reason. What a shame for beer lovers throughout the world.
You may not know it, but Oktoberfest strangely starts in September, however, when Oktoberfest began in 1810, it did take place entirely in October—from the 12th to the 17th. As the festival got larger and longer, the starting dates were moved into September because the days were longer, and the weather was warmer. The festivities still end on October 17th with a horse race.
Germany's passion for well-made, delicious beer is well-known the world over. Many German brewers still make beer in accordance with the Reinheitsgebot (Beer Purity Law) of 1516, which states that beer may only be made with water, barley, and hops. The existence of yeast was unknown at the time. It wasn’t until 1993 that brewers were legally allowed to add yeast and malts to their beers.
If you are planning on celebrating Octoberfest in the U.S., you might get lucky and find one of these top German beers in your favorite pub, corner tavern, nearby bar or in the comfort and safety of your own home. If you can’t locate some of the beers here in the States, you can purchase some of the beer-drinking paraphernalia offered from these companies.
Germans are renowned for their beer for good reason, and any trip to Germany is incomplete without a sampling of these top 10 brews.
1. Weihenstephan Hefe Weissbier
Hefeweizen, a cloudy, Bavarian-style wheat brew, tops the list of beers to try. A light, yeasty sweetness (which some liken to bananas or bubblegum) makes it an extremely refreshing beer to drink before a meal or with a light dinner. As the oldest brewery in the world, Weihenstephan has been producing phenomenal hefeweizens since 1040.
2. Erdinger Kristall
Erdinger is the world’s largest wheat beer brewery, and Kristall is one of its best-loved beers. A crystal-clear version of the traditional Hefeweizen, Kristall is the perfect thirst quencher on hot summer days. Serve it with a lemon wedge and enjoy after a long bike ride.
3. Spaten Oktoberfest
Traditionally brewed in March and served in Autumn, around the Oktoberfest celebration, Spaten Oktoberfest is a sweet, brown beer with a mildly malty taste and roasted notes. It’s surprisingly crisp for such a sweet beer but has a round, earthy finish. Spaten’s Oktoberfest is only available from August until October or November.
4. Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier
This beer is a little harder to find than most, but it’s well worth it if you can snag a bottle. The Schlenkerla brewery, located in the hills of Bamberg, was founded in 1405 and still brews this sweet, malty beer. Its distinctly smoky aroma — reminiscent of leather or even beef jerky comes from exposing the malt to intense, aromatic beech smoke. You can best enjoy a glass with a hot meal served in the brewery’s beer garden when travel permits.
5. Paulaner Salvator Doppel Bock
Paulaner is a major player in the German beer world, and their Doppel bock is a fine example of this bottom-fermented beer. Darker and richer than a regular bock, Doppel bock is full of big flavor, but still clean, with aromas of toasted spice, caramel and burnt sugar. Dark barley malt gives it its characteristically malty taste.
6. Schneider Weisse Aventinus Eisbock
Eisbock is a type of beer made by freezing off a portion of water in the brew and removing it. The resulting beer is super-concentrated, increasing its body, flavor and alcohol content. The Schneider Aventius is heavy and malty with nutty, caramel notes and a hint of ripe plum. It pairs extremely well with buttery cheeses like brie or gouda, as well as with chocolate.
7. Augustiner Hell
Despite the name, this isn’t a place bad people go to roast, but an extremely cool beer made by the oldest brewery in Munich. Mild, sparkling, refreshing and dry, this easy-to-drink beer is a go-to for city dwellers, who grab a bottle from the local Späti (late night store) and wander the streets before heading to a party.
8. Gaffel Kölsch
If you’re ever in Köln (Cologne) (one of my favorite cities), you’ll see patrons at numerous outdoor cafés ordering round after round of Kölsch, a light, refreshing beer brewed only in and around the eponymous city. Less bitter than a pilsner, Kölsch is moderately hoppy and gently fruity. Don’t be surprised at the small 200 ml glasses in which it’s served — that’s the only way you’ll get it.
9. Berliner Kindl Weisse
A classic summer drink in Berlin, Berliner Weisse is a tart, tangy beer which gets its characteristic flavor from deliberately soured grains. It’s traditionally served in a large, boule-like glass and often colored green with a shot of sweet woodruff syrup or red with raspberry.
10. Radeberger Pils
A classic German pils in every way. This palatable beer is clean and refreshing and makes a nice, easy accompaniment to any meal. A predominant hop flavor gives the beer a verdant, herbal finish. Though there’s nothing out of the ordinary about this beer, it’s on the list for this reason because even the most standard of German beers is made to such high standards.
German beers are great, but you will be able to find some great artisan beer right here in the America. Small boutique breweries have pop up all around the country. Most of the brew pubs also offer German Octoberfest foods as a special treat.
When you're get tired drinking boots full of beer, I've got a simple and delicious cocktail that will help keep you in the spirit.
Red Velvet Champagne Cocktail
This velvety smooth sparkler is topped with stout beer then finished with a pinch of ground espresso and an orange twist as a garnish. Full of chocolatey notes from the beer, this tasty concoction could be a stand-in for dessert.
Prep time: 2 minutes
Yield: 2 cocktails
Sparkling rosé wine or pink Champagne
Small pinch ground espresso
ChefSecret: You can substitute a pinch of instant espresso powder instead or ground espresso beans—but just a small pinch.
Quip of the Day: Get some roosters for eggs and raise some bulls for milk... then you’ll discover gender matters. Especially around milking time.”
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