Answers provided by Rhinegeist Brewer, Education Program Lead and Certified Cicerone Chris Shields.
Franz (5.4% | 20 IBU), our autumnal Oktoberfest ale, traverses the palate with pumped-up Munich and Vienna malt flavors, offering a rich, nutty and über-German drinking experience.
Malts: Pale Malt, Munich, Vienna, CaraMunich
Hops: Magnum, Huell Melon
Talk about the German origins of Oktoberfest beer.
Oktoberfest began as a celebration in Munich for the marriage of Crown Prince Ludwig and Therese of Bavaria in October of 1810. Over time, this annual festival grew and became associated with Märzen beers — rich, amber lagers that became the inspiration for many American craft Oktoberfest beers.
However, since about 1990, the beer served at Munich’s Oktoberfest has become a lighter and more bready lager style called Festbier. The story goes that Paulaner created the first golden Festbier in the mid-1970s because they wanted something less filling than the traditional Märzens. So, they developed a more drinkable, but still malty, version that was “more poundable” (according to the head brewer at Paulaner) and the modern Festbier was born.
Franz is an untraditional Oktoberfest brew. How is it unique?
Most Oktoberfest beers, whether they are Märzens or Festbiers, are lagers. We use an ale yeast in Franz, which adds a touch of fruit from the esters formed in fermentation. We also use a newer German hop variety called Huell Melon that adds another fruity layer. This makes Franz a bit untraditional, but relatively true to style.
What are the notable characteristics of this beer?
Franz is all about harmony between the bready, nutty grain flavors and the spicy, fruity flavors from the hops and ale fermentation.
What makes you want to drink this beer?
Franz is for celebrating. A Festbier that dances on the palate with a light step and leaves you wanting another. Playing well in the late summer heat or the first crisp nights of fall, Franz is just begging to be a part of a friendly gathering full of laughs, good food, and maybe some oompah & lederhosen.
What are some other Oktoberfest beers that you really dig?
I prefer Festbiers to Märzens, and Weihenstephaner Festbier is a fantastic German example. Sam Adams Octoberfest is an American classic in the Märzen-style with its rich, caramel sweetness. Sierra Nevada makes my other favorite American craft Oktoberfest.
Appearance: Brilliant clarity with a rich orange color. Moderate, but ephemeral off-white head.
Aroma: Bread crust and sweet grain. Subtle spice and honeydew from the German hops. Notes of light molasses and restrained fruit. Pears, toffee, and nutty bread.
Taste: Malt dominates with flavors of nuts and multigrain bread. Fruity esters emerge amidst the graininess with notes of pear and apricot. Light hop spice balances the sweet malt base and encourages drinkability.
Mouthfeel: Medium bodied with a quick and clean finish. Moderate carbonation. Smooth.
Overall: A suave, nutty, Oktoberfest ale with a touch of fruit and loads of drinkability. Prost!
What foods would pair well with Franz?
Dare I say a German pretzel served with grain mustard? If you’re looking for more of a meal, Franz has the weight to stand with traditional German-style food like Bratwurst or Mettwurst.
Ideal glassware for Franz?
I see no reason not to go for the Mass (1 liter stein).