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Talking Oktoberfest with Peter Kurzweg of Lorelei

We brew up a guide to an authentic Oktoberfest beer experience.

Amanda Waltz Sep 12, 2018 6:00 AM
Jared Wickerham

Revelers have plenty of spots to celebrate Oktoberfest, including Lorelei in East Liberty. This recently opened dual-concept bar draws inspiration from Germany and Alpine Europe in both its food and drink menus and its atmosphere, complete with long, beer garden-style communal tables.

“We’re taking what I think is the best of European drinking culture and trying to distill it,” says co-owner and beer director, Peter Kurzweg, whose own grandparents and father emigrated from Germany.

This extends to the rare German and Austrian beers already sold and planned for offering during Oktoberfest. But what makes the perfect Oktoberfest beer? Kurzweg describes Oktoberfest beers as being of a higher gravity than “your kind of workaday German pilsners and house lagers.” Various Märzens, a type of lager that originated in Bavaria and varies in color from amber to dark brown, are popular. 

He also highlights Lorelei’s use of gravity kegs, a popular means of service in parts of Germany that offer thicker, unfiltered pours served at a warmer temperature than a draft system. 

Jared Wickerham

Traditionally, only beers brewed in Munich are allowed the title of Oktoberfest, but many German breweries still produce beers in the Oktoberfest style. As an example, Kurzweg cites Schneider & Sohn, a brewery outside of Munich that produces an Oktoberfest-style Hefeweizen called Schneider Wiesen Edel-Weisse. 

Here are a few options Kurzweg believes you should watch out for this Oktoberfest: 

Aecht Schlenkerla (Bamberg, Germany): “They make smoked beers. It has that caramelly, amber tone to it, but it’s like sipping into a bite of bacon or campfire every time you lift it to your mouth.” 

Hofstetten (Austria): “[Hofstetten] is making Märzens but doing things like using granite coals to bring the wort to a boil, which is the traditional way of making beer before you had stainless and metal pots. You get a weird caramelization with that.” 

Ayinger (Aying, Germany): Kurzweg deems their Oktoberfest brew a “really great fest beer” that’s “not as dark and caramelly, and not as overwhelming to the palate” as a typical Märzen.

Send an IG of your Oktoberfest beverage @pghcitypaper.