You like bratwursts. You love beer. And you’re looking for a good reason to wear your Lederhosen and blow your alphorn. Oktoberfest saves the day. McKinney’s version of Oktoberfest begins this Friday at 4 p.m. and runs through Saturday at 11:30 p.m. in downtown McKinney, and there will be plenty of beer.
Even if you can’t make the trek to Munich this year, you can still enjoy some of the same beers being served across the Atlantic. The beer for McKinney’s Oktoberfest is locally made by Franconia Brewing Company. With a family history of brewing, Dennis Wehrman, Franconia’s owner and brewmaster, brings the flavors of German beer to McKinney. Wehrman grew up in Nuremberg, Germany and studied brewing in Munich prior to moving to Dallas.
TSB thought it would be fun to do some “bier” research just in time for Oktoberfest. We enlisted the help of a home brewer and found some interesting facts.
- Lagers are good all-around food beers, and they’re not as filling as ales.
- The yeast that is used for fermentation during the beer making process determines whether it will be an ale or a lager.
- The carbonation in beer scrubs the tongue of fat and prepares it for the next bite.
- Matching food with beer is not an exact science, even for the pros.
This year, Franconia will feature four varieties of beer, two ales and two lagers, at Oktoberfest.
Koelsch, a light golden refreshing German Beer, is very popular in the mid Region of Germany. The Koelsch, which is an ale, is my personal favorite with the heavier, German style food. With floral overtones, and a hint of citrus, it is a lighter beer with a hoppy finish. Hop bitterness cuts through the fat in food, alleviating the dense heavy feeing in your mouth. Suggested food pairings: salads, fish, omelettes, smoked salmon, sandwiches, pork chops.
Franconia Wheat (Hefeweizen) is, according to the Franconia website an “original German Hefeweizen.” The prefix “Hefe” means “with yeast.” The beer appears to be unfiltered (cloudy) because of the yeast that is used in the beer, don’t be deceived, the yeasty flavor, along with a hint of banana and cloves make this a refreshing choice. Many Americans drink this beer with lemon slices.
Hefeweizen is classically paired with weisswurst (white sausage) and contrasts with pungent, intense aromatics such as mustard flavors, pickles, horseradish and cured meats.
The Oktoberfest , which I sampled at Square Burger, is a dark and malty larger, with 5 percent alcohol and is definitely reminiscent of the traditional German Oktoberfest style, also known as Märzen. This beer was originally brewed around March (Märzen derives from März, the German word for March) before modern refrigeration when brewing during the summer was problematic due to high temperatures that could result in bacterial infections. The beer was lagered (kept in cold storage) over the hotter months and brewed at a slightly higher gravity (or alcohol content) to help it maintain stability against the summer heat. This German lager style tends to be full-bodied, malty, toasty, dark copper-hued, with just enough hops to balance the malty sweetness and a slightly higher alcohol content (5-6 percent ABV rather than the standard 4 percent). Franconia’s Oktoberfest boasts a five percent alcohol content. .
The caramelization of malts in Oktoberfest beer complements that of char-grilled and seared meats or hearty, and spicy Mexican dishes. It’s rich sweetness balances strong spice components in foods. Lagers will cut some of the heaviness in sauce-based meat dishes – chicken paprikash, goulash or pork rouladen, for example – and will stand up to their strong flavors. This is a perfect beer to serve with pretzels and mustard.
The Franconia Dunkle is a dark lager and when I sampled it, strong flavors of coffee popped. My beer tasting partner also noted a chocolate flavor, much to her delight. The coffee, and chocolate notes are a direct result of the malts used. Great with Bratwurst, it’s also the perfect accompaniment with a Rueben sandwich or just about any sandwich containing bacon. This beer would also pair well with pan-browned meats and their juices.
In general, remember, hops may intensify spices and heat. A good rule of thumb is to pair malt forward beers with spicy foods and hop forward beers with rich or fatty foods. There are no hard and fast rules for pairing your favorite beers with food. Experiment. Try a beer with different food combinations and see which ones work best for you. Happy tasting!
At the McKinney Oktoberfest there will be beer booths at each corner surrounding the McKinney Performing Arts Center. Beer and wine tickets may be purchased at any of the four ticket booths located next to each of the beer booths. Oh, and don’t forget to bring your ID.
By TSB contributor and home brewer Brook Reeves, with TSB publisher Angie Bado.