There’s only one beer that rightfully gets the nod when Polka music is playing and pork schnitzel is frying.
It’s Oktoberfest time once again, mein Freunde, and few moments mark the season better than enjoying an Oktoberfest-style brew that’s been poured down the inside of a glass as the foamy head simultaneously rises to the top.
I’m a sucker for tradition, and if I owned lederhosen I’d wear them with pride while enjoying the fragrance and flavors of fall in a glass. But there’s certainly no dress code required to enjoy an Oktoberfest at select craft breweries across Southern Arizona.
While many breweries feature Oktoberfest-inspired beers around this time every year, which historically are darker and malt-forward lagers, Crooked Tooth Brewing Co. chose to roll out their very first just weeks ago. This decision to do something a little different was made during the pandemic-driven downtime in which businesses unfortunately found themselves over the past several months.
“With the extra time we had over the summer, we didn’t have to turn the tanks over as quickly, so adding a few lagers to the mix made sense,” said Tony Zamorano, director of sales at Crooked Tooth, 228 E. Sixth St. “Oktoberfest is all about celebrating tradition, and this gave us the opportunity to take a step back from some of the wild and funky stuff we do and show how much we enjoy and respect the tradition of beer.”
With an ABV of 5.5 percent, Zamorano’s Oktoberfest is golden amber in color with a mild hop presence and what he calls “a really nice biscuity and bread-like malty character that produces a super clean, super crisp, and very drinkable beer that holds its true form as a celebrator.”
So, what’s Zamorano and his team celebrating this fall?
“For us, we’re celebrating that we’re still here, that we’re able to serve our community, and that we get to welcome back the people who love to be here,” he said.
The limited-edition Oktoberfest is currently available at the Crooked Tooth taproom.
Taking Oktoberfest in a decidedly more Dunkel, or dark, direction is 1912 Brewing Co., and their season’s selection is a brew that bridges the two German styles of Dunkel and Hefeweizen to produce a, you guessed it, Dunkelweizen.
“We stayed pretty traditional with this Dunkelweizen, which combines the banana and clove notes of a Hefeweizen with the caramel, toast, and Munich malt profiles of a Dunkel,” said Allan Conger, founder and head brewer at 1912 Brewing Co., 2045 N. Forbes Blvd. “Hovering around an ABV of 5 percent, it has a rich fall and winter-esque flavor, with a hint of chocolate, and little to no perceived bitterness.”
Conger has brewed Dunkelweizens, as well as their Bavarian cousins known as Marzens, for many an Oktoberfest over the years. He calls this season “the most traditional of the beer holidays” and looks forward to observing it with a brew or two that he changes up slightly each year.
The name of Conger’s Oktoberfest beer is “Drink to you in Riddles.” If I had more space in this column to share the story behind it, I surely would. You’ll just have to ask him when you see him at the 1912 taproom where a limited supply of these suds remains.
With this beer’s celebratory heritage, Conger says his intention was simply to “bring some positivity to the year.”
Join me in honoring our local craft breweries over some Oktoberfest beers. The lederhosen, needless to say, are optional.
Contact Matt Russell, whose day job is CEO of Russell Public Communications, at firstname.lastname@example.org. Russell is also the publisher of OnTheMenuLive.com as well as the host of the Friday Weekend Watch segment on the “Buckmaster Show” on KVOI 1030 AM.