Fall 2018 Exclusive

A Match (and Märzen) Made in Heaven

Sierra Nevada Teams Up with Weihenstephan, The World’s Oldest Brewery, for This Year’s Oktoberfest

Oktoberfest Beers…

Been there done that, right?


That’s because for the last four years, Sierra Nevada has partnered with a different, traditional German brewery to create a new Oktoberfest brew. And lest you think Oktoberfest beers are all the same (they aren’t), Sierra and their partner brewery always take a totally new slant on each collaboration, pushing the traditional style in new and exciting directions.

“We’ve been brewing Oktoberfest beers going back to the late 1990s,” says Sierra’s Justin Nix. “But our original batches were more Americanized. We used darker grains, so the beers had a deep, copper color.” Flash forward to just a few years ago, after several go-rounds with their massively successful, nationwide (then worldwide) Beer Camp collaborations, in which they developed a variety pack of beers created with breweries from different regions, they decided to apply the same idea to their Oktoberfest. “It all started with our Beer Camp program,” says Nix. “We just loved the idea of a different spin on the traditional style each year.” That led Sierra to the Oktoberfest homeland of Germany to brew Märzens that are anything but Americanized.

Tobias Zollo, Head Brewmaster of Weihenstephan (left) with Scott Jennings, Brewmaster at Sierra Nevada Mills River (middle) and Marcus Englet, Sales Director for Weihenstephan.

This year’s collaboration is with none other than Weihenstephan, which happens to know a thing or two about brewing traditional German beers. Nearly 1,000 years old (it’s the world’s oldest brewery), Weihenstephan is royalty in the beer world. “To be able to make a beer with the oldest brewery in the world is a great honor for one of America’s oldest craft brewers,” says Nix. “This year’s brew is something special.”

Weihenstephan and the team at Sierra spent weeks going back and forth on possible recipes, finally settling on a “crisp, clean and drinkable crowd-pleaser.” Using traditional Munich malt that gives the beer those classic Oktoberfest biscuit notes, Nix says to expect “a malt backbone balanced by the hop character Sierra is known for.”

As beer styles get more and more extreme and outrageous, Oktoberfests adhere to a strict style guideline that demands its own respect. When you get your hands on one that is both instantly recognizable as a traditional Oktoberfest Märzen, but bold enough to push the boundaries of the classic style, you’re reminded of what makes beer such a special beverage in the first place.

Plus, these beers are meant to be enjoyed, while partying in a beer tent, surrounded by oompah music! That Oktoberfest spirit is exactly why Sierra and Weihenstephan developed this new take on the historic style. Or as Nix puts it, “Nothing captures the spirit of celebration like sharing an Oktoberfest among friends.”

Prosit! Tobias Zollo (left) and Brian Grossman, VP and second-generation brewer for Sierra Nevada, get the party started with a celebratory toast.

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Draught Lines is a seasonal magazine dedicated to the craft beer experience.