Oktoberfest (also known as Marzen) has come a long way since its start in NOT October…but September 1810! It began as a festival in Munich, Germany to honor the marriage of Crown Prince Ludwig I of Bavaria. The entire country celebrated and the festivities were such a hit that it quickly became an annual tradition that evolved into what we now know as Oktoberfest.
Marzen, the style of lager traditionally drunk at Oktoberfest, is actually named for the month of March, when brewing traditionally stopped to avoid the hot summer months. The beer would then be released and enjoyed each September as the weather cooled – it was perfectly timed with the annual Oktoberfest party!
The beers of Oktoberfest are uniquely fun to pair with imported cheeses because of the endless flavor variations that can be created by altering the malt, hops, yeast, and other traditional brewing ingredients. Beer’s natural carbonation and bubbles also make the perfect palate-cleanser for rich, buttery imported cheeses.
The German state of Bavaria has over 400 cheese and 40 beer varieties and therefore a wealth of pairing options from which to choose! Here are some of our favorites and some recipes to try them in:
Havarti or Swiss and Stout
Creamy, mild, lightly sweet imported Havarti or Swiss cheeses pair well with a rich Stout beer to compliment their flavors. For a true taste of an Oktoberfest classic dish try our recipe for Pork Schnitzel with Imported Swiss.
Limburger or Blue and Bockbier
Creamy, earthy, pungent cheeses such as imported Limburger (traditionally served smeared on rye bread with onions) or aged imported Blue Cheeses need a beer with equally strong flavors to stand up to their intensity. We love pairing them with beers such as robust Bockbier, a dark Belgian ale, or a Schwarzbier.
Butterkäse and Kolsch
This firm, mild, cow’s milk cheese is featured in a variety of different traditional Oktoberfest dishes. Where did it get its name? Käse is German for cheese, while “butter” describes its luscious buttery flavor! It pairs deliciously with Kolsch, a fruity, light, refreshing German ale that helps refresh your palate after all that buttery goodness. While Butterkase is delicious on it’s own, you can also enjoy it in our iconic Oktoberfest dish of German Spaetzle with Butterkase Cheese, Caramelized Onion, and Bacon
Brie and Pils
Lighter, younger, soft cow’s milk cheeses like imported Brie or Camembert pair deliciously with milder, brighter beers such as German Pils. Fun fact: both cheeses are actually sold in tins in Germany and are perfect to spread on hearty dark bread for your pairing
Goat Cheese and Hefeweizen
Cloudy, effervescent, and exceptionally refreshing Hefeweizen beer has aromas and fruity flavors of banana, clove, green apple, lemon. It’s fantastic with light, young cheeses but also pairs deliciously and unexpectedly with tart, tangy goat’s milk cheeses such as imported Chevre.