Last Thursday morning I saw a tip off on one of the CAMRA WhatsApp groups I belong to. It concerned some special presentation packs of Bavarian Festbiers that were on sale at Lidl. The person who notified members of the group about these beers claimed they were selling fast, and urged those who wished to acquire a pack, to get down to Lidl’s quickly, before stocks ran out.
Although I was definitely interested, I had other things to do that morning, and if truth be known thoughts of these Bavarian beers had vanished from my mind. My carefully laid plans that morning were thrown into disarray, by young Matthew who asked if I could run him over to Tunbridge Wells, to collect his car that had he’d dropped off at the main dealership for a check-up, the previous day. It was only during the return journey, that the idea diverting into Lidl entered my mind. äu Oktoberfest, as the brewery is owned by the Bavarian state, but leaving ownership issues aside, there are no foreign investors involved with the company. The other offerings are all, in the main, produced by small to medium family brewers all based in Bavaria. The pack itself represented good value at £24.99, so for a fraction under £2.50 a bottle, I now possess a variety of beers that are probably hard to come by in Bavaria (unless you know where to look), let alone south east England. Märzen or Festbier. Märzenbier is German for “March beer,” and is a golden to deep amber lager style with a full body and a moderate bitterness. It closely resembles Vienna lager, a copper to reddish brown coloured beer that is characterized by a malty aroma and slight malt sweetness. Until the final quarter of the last century, Märzen was the dominant style of beer served at Munich’s Oktoberfest, but gradually the beer was superseded by Festbier, which although brewed to a similar abv of around 6% strength, is a more normal golden-yellow in colour.
It was developed by the Munich-based Paulaner brewery during the early 1970’s and gained rapidly in popularity following its first appearance at the event, due to it being easy to drink and its attractive appearance. By the 1990’s all beer served at Oktoberfest was Festbier, and Märzen had been officially replaced. Fortunately, a couple of Märzenbiers are included amongst the 10 beers that are neatly packed in the sturdy presentation box, which comes complete with a carrying handle plus the Bavarian emblazoned across the front of the pack.It also tells the reader about Kalea, the company behind the pack. Kalea is derived from the Hawaiian word meaning “to give joy” and the Kalea company was founded in 2010, in Salzburg Austria. Starting with a beer advent calendar, the company became the first German language beer writing platform, and they now also provide micro and gypsy brewers with a platform where they can promote their speciality beers. äu Oktoberfest beer, plus one from Schneider, who are exclusively a wheat beer brewery, plus Bischofshof from Regensburg. I shall certainly enjoy getting stuck in to these beers during the approaching winter months, but for the time being I intend leaving the pack unopened.
For the record, and for those who like these sorts of details, the beer specialities contained in the pack are:
Ettl BräuTeisnacher - 1543 Festmärzen 5.4%
Hohenthanner Schlossbrauerei - Märzen Festbier 5.6%
Erl Bräu – Erlkönig Festbier 6.1%
Falter – Pichelsteiner Festbier 5.9%
Bischofshof - Original Festbier 5.4%
Schlossbrauerei Irlbach – Irlbacher Premium 5.8%
Kuchlbauer - Gillamoos Bier 5.2%
Schneider - Festweisse 6.2%
Hofbräu - Oktoberfesbier 6.3%