Pin It


German Bier Festival brings brew to Atlantic Station

Although the heat has not yet let up in Atlanta, school has started, Labor Day is nearly upon us, and I am determined to start thinking sweater weather. And believe it or not, it is in the waning days of August that you first start to see seasonal Oktoberfest beers appearing. But don’t worry, this is not part of the holiday creep that drives American retailers to put up Halloween decorations the minute Labor Day ends.

Oktoberfest beers are also known as Märzens, because they were brewed in March and stored in caves during the warm summer months. They are typically ready to drink by late summer, so don’t feel like you have to wait until October to try one. Märzens are a bit maltier and stronger than standard German lagers, but they are purposefully easy to drink -- how else would Oktoberfest-goers have put away over 6 million liters of the stuff?

The German Bier Festival at Atlantic Station this weekend is a great opportunity to sample several versions of the traditional German Märzen, along with German food, music, culture and a variety of other types of German beers. Brews from more than 20 breweries will be represented at the festival. Many of these beers are hard to find, even in Atlanta.

Only six breweries, all located in Munich, are allowed to serve at Oktoberfest. Paulaner, Spaten and Hacker-Schorr are easy to find year-round, but they are still the standard-bearers of the style and worth sampling. The first keg tapped at Oktoberfest every year is a Spaten, but Paulaner was also served at Munich’s first Oktoberfest and makes one of the best examples. It is herewith this week’s beer pick. Hofbrau, Löwenbräu and Augustiner are the other three breweries that serve at Oktoberfest.

In other style categories, some of the best examples of wheat beers, or hefeweizens, will be represented. If you are used to the thin, flavorless variety of this style produced by many American breweries, you may be surprised by some of the German versions. Schneider & Sohn makes several excellent examples, including its original amber-colored Schneider Weisse, and the fantastic Aventinus weisenbock that is bursting with yeasty esters of banana, clove and chocolate. Yes, chocolate. Franziskaner and Weihenstephan, both of which will be serving at the festival, also make excellent hefeweizens. In general, the harder it is to pronounce, the better it will taste.

Don’t pass up a chance to sample Schenkerla’s rauchbier, or smoke beer, while you are at this weekend’s festival. This traditional beer is made by smoking the malts over burning beech-wood logs prior to brewing. The result is a bit off-putting at first, like the taste of burnt campfire food, but it also carries the exhilarating taste of the outdoors and is definitely worth a try. After all, that’s what beer festivals are all about.

Other beers that I am looking forward to sampling include the line of Pinkus organic beers; Schwelmer Pils, which I tried recently but may have gotten an old bottle; Mönchshof Schwarzbier (black beer) that is available at Altstadter in Helen, but that I have not seen on the shelves in Atlanta; and the Flensburger Pilsner, another rarity in Atlanta.

By the way, this is a good festival to bring timid beer drinker friends and significant others, since German styles are closest to American macrobrews in character. Tell them this is what they are supposed to taste like. Direct them to a helles, the German answer to Czech pilsners, or a kölsch, the super-light German ale from Cologne (Koln). And if they don’t like beer at all, tell them to go shopping and pick you up afterward. You’re going to need a designated driver. 

Talking Head columnist Jeff Holland can be reached at

  • Pin It


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Latest in Beer Club

More by Jeff Holland


Search Events

Recent Comments

© 2015 Creative Loafing Atlanta
Powered by Foundation