Last Friday night I had the opportunity to take an Oktoberfest beer pairing class in the cooking school at the Market District in Robinson. It was so fun! Let me give you the deets.
The class was a series of 5 different beer samples, each accompanied by a dish that was prepared by the MD chef’s in the cooking school kitchen. Unlike some of the other cooking classes that are offered, this one required NO effort from the students. We just got to sit, eat, drink, and listen. Perfect.
In addition to all the tasting, I learned some cool beer facts!
- Oktoberfest beers are all marzen style beers. Marzen means March, which historically was the last time of year to brew beer before it gets too warm. These beers have low bitterness and hop flavor. They’re mostly malty, sweet, toasty, and amber in color. Good for drinking in large volumes and over long periods of time, like during the Oktoberfest celebration.
- There are only 6 true Oktoberfest beers in the world. To be a real Oktoberfest, the beer has to be brewed in Munich. So everything else that we drink is just Oktoberfest style.
- Oktoberfest always starts 16 days before the first Sunday in October. It was actually originally a wedding celebration. But has since turned into a marathon of drinking in Munich.
- Exposure to light will impact the taste of beer and lead to skunking. This means that beers that come out of cans will taste the freshest. Dark glass bottles are next best. And green glass bottles, because they let in the most light, are more likely lose freshness.
- IPAs are not highly hoppy because of the long transit time to India. They’re hoppy because the strong flavor tastes better in hotter climates and pairs well with spicy foods.
- Back in the day, before craft brewing became a respected career, women did most of the beer making because it was part of their cooking responsibilities in the kitchen. Female brewers are called Brewsters. Love it!
Now let’s actually talk about what we got to try!
FIRST COURSE: Penn Brewery Oktoberfest + pork and potato pancakes.
- We started with the least flavorful beers and foods. When drinking Oktoberfest beers (or Oktoberfest style beers, like Penn’s), it’s best to pair them with more plain foods so they don’t overpower the flavor of the beer, because it is so light. Meat and potatoes, check.
- Like the first one, this beer was paired with pretty basic flavors. What’s cool about the Hofbrauhaus Oktoberfest is that it’s one of the six authentic brews. Unlike the rest of the beers that are brewed on premises at each Hofbrauhaus location, this one is actually imported from Munich. Is there anything more perfect with that than a pretzel? NO. These were so buttery, they were out of this world.
- This was my favorite beer of the night. It’s an Oktoberfest style red or amber ale. It has more hop flavor than the traditional Oktoberfests. Because the beer was more flavorful, so was the food. Yum.
- This Oktoberfest style brew was brighter and less sweet than the other guys (and actually my least favorite from the night). But the flavors meant that it paired better with sweeter foods, and the creamy apples with the sausage were delish.
- The last beer was a red/amber ale from Newcastle. And it came with DESSERT! Perfect. I have such a sweet tooth.
Overall, I really enjoyed the event. It was a lot of fun to do something different on a Friday night. Would I recommend a MD cooking school beer class to a friend? Absolutely! Just a couple recommendations from the CFGF:
- Don’t have super high expectations for fancy beers. The beers were fine, but they weren’t any of my new favorites. Pretty basic.
- Be open to eat anything. The food was AWESOME. Made up for what the beer was lacking. I wouldn’t recommend it for somebody with dietary restrictions, because you’ll miss out on the best part if you don’t eat meat, grains, dairy, etc.
- Take a friend. Dragging CFBF along with me made it so much more fun.
- Stop by the bar in the Cafe on your way out. I was pretty disappointed with the size of our samples. We were supposed to get five 4oz pours, but they were only about half of that. There is a pretty solid selection of beers on draft in the Cafe though, and all at really great prices – most of them $4 or less!
You can check out the calendar of events at the Robinson MD cooking school here. The October beer pairing class is pumpkin themed, and November is harvest beers. Let me know if anybody tries ones!
Any other cool beer classes out there that I should know about? I’d love to learn even more!
*Disclaimer: I was invited to take this class for free but was not monetarily compensated in any way to attend or write this post. All opinions are my own.