Prost! With The Most
Lavery Brewing, Erie Brewing go Deutsch with Oktoberfest split bill
SATURDAY, SEPT. 25
There was a time in our country's not-too-distant past when America's paradigm of beer was pale lager, and in particular the pilsner. Although hardly representative of the diversity within the much broader lager category (beers that ferment slowly at cooler temperatures from the bottom up), pales were very much in vogue during mass German immigration in the mid-19th century, and when once they settled down and established successful breweries stateside, other styles mostly faded out of favor.
For a second, it seemed the craft brewing revolution had turned the tide against what have become (affectionately or dismissively) known as "dad beers" — the universally available and mostly indistinguishable pilsner-style lagers we came to associate with the favorite jorts-wearers in our lives — but only for a second! The appeal of cold, crisp, clean, and uncomplicated pale lager is hard to deny, so craft brewers have increasingly begun producing their own (with or without grain adjuncts such as corn and rice, depending on how true to "dad beer" nostalgia they want to be).
But lager tradition goes back way further — to around the mid-1500s when the German brewers first started using lager yeast. Depending on the malts used, lagers can range in color from pale to golden to amber to black — just like ales. One of the most popular to emerge was the Märzen or Oktoberfest lager, a toasty and biscuity delight first brewed in 1810 to celebrate the marriage of Crown Prince Ludwig I to Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen in modern-day Bavaria. Unlike most lagers, which were traditionally brewed in fall and stored during the colder months, Märzen was brewed in early spring (März = March) and stored underground during summer, under a grove of trees to shade the soil from the sun (these groves would later become utilized as Biergartens).
Also at some point in the not-too-distant past, we came to remember that Märzen lagers are delicious, and nowadays virtually every brewery large and small produces one to be enjoyed predominantly during the month of September, with Oktoberfest and German heritage events springing up all over the country. This Saturday, two Lake Erie Ale Trail breweries will be holding Oktoberfest celebrations of their own (dirndls and lederhosen strongly encouraged, but not required).
Lavery's Fifth Annual Craft Lager Festival will bring together roughly 20 regional breweries and many more lager lovers for unlimited samples, Beer Olympics, and lots and lots of sausages from noon to 4 p.m. Later, in scenic Knowledge Park in Harborcreek, Erie Brewing Company will hold Dogtoberfest VII, (also) with unlimited samples, food, games, a costume contest, a photo booth, and yes, leashed and well-behaved dogs. All proceeds from that event go directly to The Anna Shelter to support local animals in need.
It is said that good lager is the byproduct of patience, finesse, and TLC — so make sure you take the Stein to appreciate the details this weekend. Prost!
Lavery Craft Lager Festival
Noon to 4 p.m. // 128 W. 12th St. // $25 // laverybrewing.com
5:30 to 8:30 p.m. // 6008 Knowledge Pkwy. // $25 // eriebrewingco.com