Style Details

Pale Mal­ty Euro­pean Lager
BJCP Style Code
4 B
Deep yel­low to deep gold color; should not have amber hues. Bright cla­ri­ty. Per­sis­tent white to off-white foam stand. Most com­mer­cial examp­les are medi­um gold in color.
Mode­ra­te mal­ty rich­ness, with an empha­sis on toasty-doug­hy aro­ma­tics and an impres­si­on of sweet­ness. Low to medi­um-low flo­ral, her­bal, or spi­cy hops. The malt should not have a deep­ly toas­ted, cara­mel, or bis­cui­ty qua­li­ty. Clean lager fer­men­ta­ti­on character.
Medi­um to medi­um-high mal­ty fla­vor initi­al­ly, with a light­ly toasty, bread dough qua­li­ty and an impres­si­on of soft sweet­ness. Medi­um to medi­um-low bit­ter­ness, defi­ni­te­ly mal­ty in the balan­ce. Well-atte­nu­a­ted and crisp, but not dry. Medi­um-low to medi­um flo­ral, her­bal, or spi­cy hop fla­vor. Clean lager fer­men­ta­ti­on cha­rac­ter. The tas­te is most­ly of Pils malt, but with slight­ly toasty hints. The bit­ter­ness is sup­port­i­ve, but still should yield a mal­ty, fla­vorful finish.
Medi­um body, with a smooth, some­what cre­a­my tex­tu­re. Medi­um car­bo­na­ti­on. Alco­hol strength bare­ly noti­ceable as warm­ing, if at all. 
Over­all Impression
A smooth, clean, pale Ger­man lager with a modera­te­ly strong mal­ty fla­vor and a light hop cha­rac­ter. Deft­ly balan­ces strength and drin­ka­bi­li­ty, with a pala­te impres­si­on and finish that encou­ra­ges drin­king. Show­ca­ses ele­gant Ger­man malt fla­vors wit­hout beco­ming too hea­vy or filling.
Typi­cal Ingredients
Majo­ri­ty Pils malt, but with some Vien­na and/or Munich malt to increase mal­ti­ness. Dif­fe­ren­ces in com­mer­cial examp­les are most­ly due to dif­fe­rent malts­ters and yeast, not major grist differences.
Sin­ce 1990, the majo­ri­ty of beer ser­ved at Okto­ber­fest in Munich has been this style. Export beer spe­ci­fi­cal­ly made for the United Sta­tes is still main­ly of the tra­di­tio­nal amber style, as are US-pro­du­ced inter­pre­ta­ti­ons. Pau­la­ner first crea­ted the gol­den ver­si­on in the mid-1970s becau­se they thought the tra­di­tio­nal Okto­ber­fest was too fil­ling. So they deve­lo­ped a ligh­ter, more drinkable but still mal­ty ver­si­on that they wan­ted to be “more poundable” (accor­ding to the head bre­wer at Pau­la­ner). But the actu­al type of beer ser­ved at Okto­ber­fest is set by a Munich city committee.
This style repres­ents the modern Ger­man beer ser­ved at Okto­ber­fest (alt­hough it is not sole­ly reser­ved for Okto­ber­fest; it can be found at many other ‘fests’), and is some­ti­mes cal­led Wiesn (“the mea­dow” or local name for the Okto­ber­fest fes­ti­val). We cho­se to call this style Fest­bier sin­ce by Ger­man and EU regu­la­ti­ons, Okto­ber­fest­bier is a pro­tec­ted appel­la­ti­on for beer pro­du­ced at lar­ge bre­we­ries within the Munich city limits for con­sump­ti­on at Okto­ber­fest. Other count­ries are not bound by the­se rules, so many craft bre­we­ries in the US pro­du­ce beer cal­led Okto­ber­fest, but based on the tra­di­tio­nal style descri­bed in the­se gui­de­lines as Märzen.
Com­mer­cial Examples
Augus­ti­ner Okto­ber­fest, Hacker-Pschorr Supe­ri­or Fest­bier, Hof­bräu Fest­bier, Löwen­bräu Okto­ber­fest­bier, Pau­la­ner Wiesn, Schön­ra­mer Gold, Wei­hen­ste­pha­ner Festbier
Ori­gi­nal Gravity
1.054 - 1.057 SG
Final Gra­vi­ty
1.010 - 1.012 SG
4 - 7 SRM
5.0 - 6.0 %vol
18 - 25 IBU