Oktoberfest is a time for celebration of all things beer, and that includes beer cocktails. I was charged with the task of making an Oktoberfest beer cocktail for this issue, and I was very excited to receive this challenge because I love a beer cocktail.
The term ‘Shandy’ is a British term for a lager or pilsner mixed with anything nonalcoholic from lemonade to ginger-ale. The term ‘Radler’ is German and is a lager mixed with lemonade. Radler translates to ‘cyclist’ named for the customers of the Bavarian bar that invented Radlers in 1922.
Oktoberfest beers can technically be any style of beer, it’s just about when they’re consumed, which is the last two weeks of September leading up to October 1st.
In America, most Oktoberfests are Märzens, which is a lager named for being brewed in March and let to rest during the summer. This makes them an ideal candidate for Oktoberfest beers, hence their rise in popularity for Oktoberfest in both Germany and America. Märzens are amber in color with a sweet maltiness.
In Germany, tastes evolved to lighter lagers for Oktoberfest, but they still produce Märzens for the American market. If you grab any Oktoberfest off the shelf in America, German or American, it’s likely a Märzen.
Festbiers (translation: ‘festival beers’) on the other hand are Oktoberfests beers because they are brewed for the festival. However, they have strict parameters. They must be lagers and they must be made with specific malts. So all Festbiers are Oktoberfests, but not all Oktoberfests are Festbiers.
I wanted to be as true to the German tradition as possible, so I started this cocktail development with a Radler as inspiration. I went with Festbier for my beer to mix with, choosing the Allgäuer Festbier, a German product.
The Allgäuer is a delicious malt-forward lager with a crisp bite and no sweetness, which I love. The flavor profile lends itself to a lot of interesting combinations.
6 ounces Allgäuer Festbier
1 ounce Domaine De Canton (a French ginger liqueur)
2 dashes lemon juice
2 dashes Angostura Bitters
1 king cube (4 oz cube)
Add the Domaine De Canton and the king cube to your glass. Add the lemon juice and Angostura and then top with the Allgäuer Festbier.
This drink is going to go down easy. It drinks like a gingery lemonade and it’s easy to forget that there’s alcohol involved.
Cheers to Oktoberfest and all things beer!