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Oktoberfest: The Grand River Brewery Fest Bier


Malt roasting over an open flame, cold storage through the summer months, this was all part of the traditional brewing of Marzen style beers in the 1500s in what is now Germany. The Marzen style was a brewer’s last hoorah before the summer months, as the Duke of Bavaria in the 1550s had declared it illegal to brew during the summer due to the increased risk of bacterial growth from the heat. Thus, Marzen style beers, which have in the modern day States become nearly synonymous with the Oktoberfest style, are called such because they were brewed in March, the last month of brewing before the Fall. 

In the 1840s, two German brewers discovered that Malt could be kilned with hot air instead of direct flame, which birthed the Amber Lager and made the Marzen style beers much lighter as well. Previously, the open flame method resulted in darker malts, so the orange/amber color of modern day Oktoberfest style beers we know and love now is a relatively modern turn. The Marzen style became the unofficial beer of the first Oktoberfest celebrations in the 1800s, and has since developed in taste and appearance thanks to consumer demand and technological advancements. To this day, there are only six breweries in Germany that are privileged with making official Oktoberfest, and all other breweries thus make Oktoberfest Style brews. This is a subtle yet important difference.

a man holding a wine glass

When a beer takes hundreds of years to develop, it’s important to honor its development as well as its tradition. That’s why at Grand River Brewery, we take the tradition of Oktoberfest seriously; we stick close to the book in method and ingredients. The GRB Brewing Team aims for a beautiful orange amber lager color with a malty up front flavor that is still extremely drinkable. We are always keeping in mind that the Oktoberfest is meant to be enjoyed at a party, drank out of huge steins, so it needs to be relatively low in abv and easy to drink. One of the ways we achieve this is through the lagering process, wherein the beer sits for four months after the brewing process. This lagering comes after a painstaking process in which the brewers finally achieved the perfect balance between hops and malt. This rounds out the yeast and brings out the flavor, which is why this beer is one of our favorites as well as our guests’ favorites.

What makes the GRB Oktoberfest so special is how well it captures the taste and nostalgia of the season. There’s something about Fall that always makes us look back to those younger years of bonfires with the family, football games, cool hikes in the woods, and this brew captures that nostalgia. Part of that is keeping things consistent; when the brewers settled on a recipe that they really came to love, they decided to keep it and have worked with it for about five years now. From the color of the beer to the taste, the GRB Oktoberfest is everything that is great about Fall.

 a glass of beer on a table

Even beyond that, the GRB Oktoberfest brew wouldn’t be an Oktoberfest style without a great big party to kick off its release. The Oktoberfest will be available on tap at both GRB locations starting September 16th, and we are celebrating with specials, limited edition merch, and a live concert performance from Blackstone Steel at GRB Jackson. A pint of the Oktoberfest isn’t the same without a pretzel to accompany, so we will be running our GR Bakery Bavarian Pretzels on special, as well as bratwursts and jaegerschnitzel. Starting from the 16th through the 30th, both GRB locations will have a great number of Oktoberfest events, from eating contests to a beer mile to live music and more.

Of course, the most important is the kickoff, which is why we’ve booked Blackstone Steel to play us into the festival. General admission tickets are just $10, but for $50 you can get a full VIP experience, including a table, food, merch, and more. There’s just something about an Oktoberfest beer that makes camaraderie and parties all the more fun and exciting, so we had to get into the proper spirit with the kickoff event. 

With everything we have planned, the Oktoberfest beer is at the center of it. With each season comes a new feeling, and there’s always a reason to celebrate. Fall means celebration of nostalgia, comfort, and togetherness before the deep cold sets in. So this Oktoberfest, come to Grand River Brewery to share a beer with a friend or loved one while we celebrate today and the older days.