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From breaking scientific studies, surveys, and special promotional events, to the latest and greatest creations in fast food, drinks, and snacks, we’ve skimmed off the cream of the crop and are serving it up in fun and informative bite-sized pieces that are still enough to chew on.

Explainers – Chowhound https://www.chowhound.com Recipes, cooking tips, resources, and stories for people who love food Tue, 20 Oct 2020 00:06:10 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.7.5 Why You Should Start a Cooking Diary Today & How to Do It https://www.chowhound.com/food-news/276817/cooking-diary-recipe-journal/ https://www.chowhound.com/food-news/276817/cooking-diary-recipe-journal/#respond Sun, 18 Oct 2020 12:00:30 +0000 https://www.chowhound.com/?p=276817 https://www.chowhound.com/food-news/276817/cooking-diary-recipe-journal/feed/ 0 Hainanese Chicken Rice Is a Make-Ahead Dish Way Better Than Any Casserole https://www.chowhound.com/food-news/276756/what-is-hainanese-chicken-rice/ https://www.chowhound.com/food-news/276756/what-is-hainanese-chicken-rice/#respond Fri, 16 Oct 2020 10:11:25 +0000 https://www.chowhound.com/?p=276756 https://www.chowhound.com/food-news/276756/what-is-hainanese-chicken-rice/feed/ 0 Is Getting an Air Fryer Worth the Investment? https://www.chowhound.com/food-news/195991/is-getting-an-air-fryer-worth-the-investment/ https://www.chowhound.com/food-news/195991/is-getting-an-air-fryer-worth-the-investment/#respond Wed, 14 Oct 2020 14:00:54 +0000 https://www.chowhound.com/?p=195991 https://www.chowhound.com/food-news/195991/is-getting-an-air-fryer-worth-the-investment/feed/ 0 Skyr Is the Icelandic Answer to Yogurt You Should Try ASAP https://www.chowhound.com/food-news/276216/skyr-is-the-protein-packed-yogurt-alternative-you-should-try/ https://www.chowhound.com/food-news/276216/skyr-is-the-protein-packed-yogurt-alternative-you-should-try/#respond Wed, 07 Oct 2020 13:41:03 +0000 https://www.chowhound.com/?p=276216 https://www.chowhound.com/food-news/276216/skyr-is-the-protein-packed-yogurt-alternative-you-should-try/feed/ 0 A Nutritional Breakdown of the Country’s Most Popular Pizza Chains https://www.chowhound.com/food-news/201807/healthiest-pizza-chain-nutritional-info-popular-chains-dominos-pizza-hut-papa-johns-little-caesars/ https://www.chowhound.com/food-news/201807/healthiest-pizza-chain-nutritional-info-popular-chains-dominos-pizza-hut-papa-johns-little-caesars/#respond Tue, 06 Oct 2020 11:30:30 +0000 https://www.chowhound.com/?p=201807

If you’re looking for the healthiest pizza chain, you’re deluding yourself—or gamely attempting to make the least bad choice, nutritionally speaking. It’s OK to acknowledge that chain pizza is definitely not good for you. And sometimes it doesn’t even taste good. But occasionally you just crave a greasy guilty pleasure that only the likes of Domino’s can provide. Don’t worry, we won’t judge.

Even Better OptionsThe Best Frozen Pizzas You Can Order OnlineWhen it comes to the quality and ingredients in fast food pizza, we decided to do a little research by taking a look at the nutritional content of a classic, medium-sized cheese pie at each of these four popular chains: Papa John’s, Pizza Hut, Little Caesar’s, and, of course, our beloved Domino’s.

While none of the quantitative information surprised us (pizza is high in carbs and sodium, duh!), we were surprised by the way in which these chains conveyed this information. Some relied on vague health claims, marketing spin, and the ever-present lure of vine-ripened tomatoes. Others opted for a subtler “no comment” approach. No matter how you slice it, the nutritional hype, or lack thereof, speaks volumes to each brand’s identity. We break it down below.

Note: Nutritional information is displayed per slice.

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Papa John’s


View this post on Instagram

Even better IRL.

A post shared by Papa John’s (@papajohns) on

As we’ll see, the nutritional breakdown of the four major pizza players in the United States are fairly comparable. Papa John’s is just as much a carb-y, salt bomb as the rest of its competitors. In fact, Papa John’s takes the cake (err pie?) for having the highest sodium count for a basic cheese pizza, though not by much so don’t let that sway your decision. All these slices are on equal footing.

However of all the chains, it makes some of the boldest claims about the quality of its ingredients. According to their website, their pizza is always made with dough that’s fresh, not frozen; vine-ripened tomatoes (wait, don’t all tomatoes grow on vines?!); and high quality, part-skim, mozzarella cheese. Their website also uses the adjective “real” to describe the cheese, which surely is a relief. (We wouldn’t want any of that fake dairy tainting our pie.) Reading a website this extra is exhausting.

Papa John’s also goes a step further and offers up “Papa’s Quality Guarantee,” because if there’s one thing I want my pizza to be graced with, it’s the blessing of a faceless, imaginary entity named after controversial blowhard and default corporate mascot, former CEO Papa John Schnatter (no longer with the company, but his name lives on). On the off chance you don’t enjoy your order, be sure to save the receipt as proof of purchase for a replacement pizza. But chances are if you’re ordering from Papa John’s, your standards aren’t that high to begin with.

Calories 210
Fat 7g
Sugar 3g
Protein 8g
Sodium 520mg

Domino’s 


As far as chain pizzerias go, Domino’s has its fair share of loyalists. Even Momofuku founder and culinary contrarian David Chang has vouched for the brand, at least in terms of its nostalgia value. As the biggest pizza brand and seventh-largest fast food brand in the world, they’ve clearly earned a lot of goodwill and, as a result of their size and half-century long history, Domino’s website and promotional materials are a lot less flashy than Papa John’s. They simply don’t need to scream about real cheese or tomatoes from vines, with the desperation of a brand that got dropped by the NFL.

Instead, Domino’s nutritional information opts for subtlety. You can read the ingredient breakdown for any ingredient. It’s completely devoid of context or meaningless descriptors, which after scrolling through endless pages of Papa John’s hype is indeed a sweet relief.

Domino’s does offer one useful nutrition tool, however: the uncharacteristically and goofily named Cal-O-Meter, which one must imagine is a holdover from the ’90s pre-Atkins world when everything was extreme and to the max. Since Domino’s boasts over 34 million different combinations of offerings, the Cal-O-Meter allows you to discover the nutritional information for a customized order. You can input a variation of pizza sizes, crusts, and toppings, and figure out what works best for your dietary needs. It’s actually quite useful for something with such a dumb name.

Calories 200
Fat 8g
Sugar less than 1g
Protein 8g
Sodium 360mg

Pizza Hut 


Pizza Hut also has a customizable nutrition tool, though it lacks a dumb name. Fortunately there is still plenty to mock on their website, for instance: Their doth-protest-too-much insistence on the fact that they “are a restaurant at heart.” Was anyone mistaking them for something else? Then there’s the “Hut Life Blog” and the existence of a newer menu item (basically calzones) dubbed the P’ZONE. Presumably, they are not actually pronounced “pee zone” but they are baked with toasted parmesan on top, which might be enough to tempt anyone into ordering them for their next weekend Netflix binge.

Calories 250
Fat 10g
Sugar 1g
Protein 11g
Sodium 450mg

Little Caesar’s


Little Caesar’s ties with Pizza Hut for calorie count, with slightly less fat and sodium but a little more sugar. It’s a toss-up, really.

But in terms of marketing hype, Little Caesar’s at least focuses (for now) on their community involvement and contactless delivery options rather than trying to feed us rejected GOOP articles. And nutritionally, they just lay out the facts; they know that you simply want a quick slice, and aren’t under the impression you’re ordering health food.

After all, when we order from any chain pizza place, we aren’t expecting artisanal masterpieces. If only corporate America would stop trying to tap into aspirational lifestyle lingo and sell their product for what it really is—a greasy pie that hits the spot in a pinch.

Calories  250
Fat 9g
Sugar 3g
Protein 12g
Sodium 440mg

If you’re feeling ambitious, see how to make the best pizza crust at home (you can even proof it in your Instant Pot).

Related Video: All the American Pizza Styles You Need to Try & How to Make Them at Home

Jessica Gentile wrote the original version of this story in 2018. It has been updated with current information.

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How Did the Most Popular Apples Get Their Names? https://www.chowhound.com/food-news/209962/how-did-apples-get-their-names/ https://www.chowhound.com/food-news/209962/how-did-apples-get-their-names/#respond Fri, 02 Oct 2020 15:30:09 +0000 https://www.chowhound.com/?p=209962 https://www.chowhound.com/food-news/209962/how-did-apples-get-their-names/feed/ 0 Moon Drop Grapes: What Exactly Are They & How Do They Taste? https://www.chowhound.com/food-news/275320/moon-drop-grapes-long-grapes/ https://www.chowhound.com/food-news/275320/moon-drop-grapes-long-grapes/#respond Wed, 30 Sep 2020 12:00:52 +0000 https://www.chowhound.com/?p=275320 https://www.chowhound.com/food-news/275320/moon-drop-grapes-long-grapes/feed/ 0 Which Coffee Roast Is Right for You? https://www.chowhound.com/food-news/264675/coffee-roast-guide-what-light-dark-and-medium-roast-really-means/ https://www.chowhound.com/food-news/264675/coffee-roast-guide-what-light-dark-and-medium-roast-really-means/#respond Tue, 29 Sep 2020 15:00:46 +0000 https://www.chowhound.com/?p=264675 https://www.chowhound.com/food-news/264675/coffee-roast-guide-what-light-dark-and-medium-roast-really-means/feed/ 0 What Is Chuseok (aka, Korean Thanksgiving)? https://www.chowhound.com/food-news/239306/chuseok-autumn-harvest-festival-korean-thanksgiving/ https://www.chowhound.com/food-news/239306/chuseok-autumn-harvest-festival-korean-thanksgiving/#respond Mon, 28 Sep 2020 15:00:31 +0000 https://www.chowhound.com/?p=239306 https://www.chowhound.com/food-news/239306/chuseok-autumn-harvest-festival-korean-thanksgiving/feed/ 0 The Best Places to Buy Humane & Organic Chicken Online https://www.chowhound.com/food-news/253323/best-humane-organic-chicken-to-buy-online/ https://www.chowhound.com/food-news/253323/best-humane-organic-chicken-to-buy-online/#respond Mon, 28 Sep 2020 14:00:35 +0000 https://www.chowhound.com/?p=253323 https://www.chowhound.com/food-news/253323/best-humane-organic-chicken-to-buy-online/feed/ 0 11 Organization Tips from The Home Edit to Get Your Kitchen in Shape for Fall https://www.chowhound.com/food-news/240838/the-home-edit-organization-tips/ https://www.chowhound.com/food-news/240838/the-home-edit-organization-tips/#respond Sat, 26 Sep 2020 14:00:47 +0000 https://www.chowhound.com/?p=240838 https://www.chowhound.com/food-news/240838/the-home-edit-organization-tips/feed/ 0 9 Baking Mistakes That Ruin Your Cakes, Cookies, Brownies & Bread https://www.chowhound.com/food-news/159139/holiday-baking-mistakes-to-avoid/ https://www.chowhound.com/food-news/159139/holiday-baking-mistakes-to-avoid/#respond Thu, 24 Sep 2020 15:25:16 +0000 /?p=159139 https://www.chowhound.com/food-news/159139/holiday-baking-mistakes-to-avoid/feed/ 0 Are Brown and White Sugar Interchangeable When Baking? https://www.chowhound.com/food-news/55228/can-you-substitute-brown-sugar-for-white-sugar-when-baking/ Thu, 24 Sep 2020 15:19:49 +0000 http://www.chow.com/blog?p=55228

When baking, can you substitute brown sugar for white sugar and vice versa? Sort of, is the quick answer. But there is a difference between what brown sugar and white sugar will do to your cookies, pastries, brownies, and breads.

White Sugar vs Brown Sugar

White sugar is made from either sugar cane or beets and is refined to get rid of impurities, writes Joanne Chang, pastry chef and co-owner of Flour Bakery + Café in Boston and Cambridge, Massachusetts, in her cookbook, “Baking with Less Sugar.”

Baking with Less Sugar, $25 from Amazon

These recipes use natural sweeteners and little-to-no refined white sugar.
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Brown sugar is only partially refined, which means it still has some molasses clinging to it. Also, many sugar manufacturers just add molasses to refined white sugar and package it as brown sugar. That’s fine too.

Related Reading: The Best Baking Books to Sweeten Your Shelves

When Should You Use White vs Brown Sugar?

easy sour cream banana bread recipe

Chowhound

Brown sugar makes baked goods more moist than white sugar because of the molasses content, says Pichet Ong, pastry chef and author of “The Sweet Spot: Asian Inspired Desserts.” This means you may have to adjust some of the other proportions in the recipe if you sub in brown sugar for white, like slightly decreasing the wet ingredients or upping the dry ones. Brown sugar will also add a hint of rich caramel flavor and affect the color.

Related Reading: 11 Ingredients That Will Take Your Baking to the Next Level

Ong says he decides which to use based on what texture he wants. For something like a zucchini or banana bread, where he’s looking for a moist texture, brown sugar is good. But he likes layer cakes to be more dry and aerated, so he sticks to white. He says you can also use a combo like many cookie recipes do.

Speaking of cookies, in her book “BakeWise,” Shirley Corriher notes that white sugar used in high proportions “makes a very crisp cookie that stays crisp,” while brown sugar is more “hygroscopic,” meaning it draws in water more easily from the air. Therefore cookies made with brown sugar “will absorb moisture from the atmosphere and soften on standing.” (So it’s key in chewy chocolate chip cookies, for instance.)

chewy chocolate chip cookies

Chowhound

If your brown sugar is rock hard, by the way, see how to soften brown sugar.

What About Turbinado Sugar and Demarara Sugar?

Substituting turbinado or Demerara (the “natural” brown sugars usually sold as “raw sugar”) doesn’t work so well, says Ong. They won’t melt down the way granulated white or conventional brown sugar would in a recipe because of the large crystal size. He likes to take advantage of the texture of these bigger crystals by using them to crust cakes or cookies. (You can also use them in this crustless pumpkin pie recipe.)

molasses crinkle cookie recipe

Chowhound

Related Reading: 9 Baking Mistakes That Ruin Your Cakes, Cookies, Brownies & Bread

What About Powdered Sugar?

Fun fact: Powered sugar or confectioner’s sugar is just regular white sugar that has been pulverized to a fine, fluffy texture (so if you need powdered sugar and only have white granulated sugar at home, simply blitz it in the food processor or blender until it turns into the powdered stuff).

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This size is great for smaller jobs.
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Many commercial brands of powdered sugar also include cornstarch to keep it from clumping, so it can make sauces or glazes thicker than if you used white sugar, but according to Betty Crocker, you can substitute it for white sugar in baked goods with no problem. The suggested ratio is 1 3/4 cups powdered sugar for 1 cup regular white sugar. (See more substitutes for white sugar if you’re out of both granulated and powdered.)

Gluten Free Almond Crinkle Cookies recipe

Chowhound

Related Reading: A Guide to Types of Sugar

What About Sugar Substitutes?

There are a wealth of other options, so for more details, see our guide to sugar substitutes and alternative sweeteners (both natural and artificial).

How to Make Your Own Brown Sugar

If you really want brown sugar and all you have on hand is white granulated sugar, you can make it at home, as long as you have molasses, writes award-winning blogger and home cook Deb Perelman in “The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook.” “You can make your own brown sugar by mixing 1 cup of granulated sugar with 11/2 tablespoons molasses (for light brown sugar) or 1/4 cup molasses (for dark brown sugar) and measuring what you need from this mixture,” Perelman says.

As a reasonable backup if you don’t have molasses, use maple syrup instead—but in different proportions, and be sure to adjust the moisture in your recipe.

Coconut sugar is also a good 1:1 substitute for brown sugar, but it’s not as moist, so it can make your baked goods a bit drier.

White & Brown Sugar Recipes

Try some of our favorite recipes that include a combo of both brown and white sugar in different proportions.

Almond-Whole Wheat Blueberry Muffins

Chowhound

These berrylicious muffins have a little nutrition squished inside, tasty nutrition that is: blueberrries, for starters, almonds, and whole wheat flour. You’ll need both white and brown sugar, but not as much as you would for other muffin recipes. Try our Almond-Whole Wheat Blueberry Muffin recipe.

Easy Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Chowhound

No layers, no problem. This easy carrot cake requires one rectangle-shaped baking pan, and that’s it. The cake delivers a cartful of moist, carrot-ty goodness with that creamy cream cheese topping we crave. It requires both white granulated sugar and brown sugar. Try our Easy Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting recipe.

Peanut Butter and Chocolate Cookies with Ganache Filling

Chowhound

Chocolate and peanut butter go together like white and brown sugar in these gooey cookies. Each contributes its own gifts to make us go mmm. Try our Ganache-Filled Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookie recipe.

Apple Dapple Cake

Chowhound

Both brown and white sugars play with Granny Smith apples and all the other fun packed within the tube pan in this simple, but sweet and moist cake. Try our Apple Dapple Cake recipe.

Cream Cheese Swirl Brownies

Cream Cheese Swirl Brownie recipe

Chowhound

In this recipe, the sugars are actually separated, with granulated sugar in the rich cream cheese swirl and brown sugar sweetening the moist chocolate brownie layer beneath. Get our Cream Cheese Swirl Brownie recipe.

Related Video: How to Make Your Own Colored Sugar

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Why Roasting Makes Vegetables Taste Sweeter & How to Do It Right https://www.chowhound.com/food-news/177981/why-roasted-vegetables-taste-sweeter/ https://www.chowhound.com/food-news/177981/why-roasted-vegetables-taste-sweeter/#respond Tue, 22 Sep 2020 14:00:16 +0000 http://www.chowhound.com/?p=177981 https://www.chowhound.com/food-news/177981/why-roasted-vegetables-taste-sweeter/feed/ 0 What Is in Pumpkin Spice & Why Does It Work So Well? https://www.chowhound.com/food-news/209277/what-is-in-pumpkin-spice-how-to-make-it/ https://www.chowhound.com/food-news/209277/what-is-in-pumpkin-spice-how-to-make-it/#respond Thu, 17 Sep 2020 18:30:36 +0000 https://www.chowhound.com/?p=209277

You know pumpkin spice is the flavor of fall, but what is actually in that pumpkin spice blend, and why does it work so well? We break it all down for a closer look and teach you how to make pumpkin spice at home.

Pumpkin. Spice. Are there any other two words in the English language whose union is capable of conjuring such a rich sense of coziness? Even before summer has officially thrown in the beach towel, the mere utterance of the phrase immediately makes the air feel cooler; makes one start to daydream of vest-clad autumn afternoons spent traipsing through a technicolor wood, warm beverage in hand, breathing deeply of air so crisp it nearly crackles.


Or maybe your version of cozy is more hearth-centric, the indoor air heavily perfumed with baked goods and perhaps a roaring fire.

In either case: pumpkin spice. Raise your hand if you subconsciously reached for a soft blanket just now.

So, what it is about pumpkin spice (or pumpkin pie spice) that produces so strong an emotional/visceral reaction and has become synonymous with all that is good between September and December? Was it originally conceived by some mystical sorcerer? Are there alchemical principles involved that somehow trigger the very heart of the human condition? Or is it that cinnamon plus anything just always tastes super dope?

Related Reading: The Best Pumpkin Spice Products You Can Buy Online Right Now | 45 Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Products We’re Stocking Up on ASAP

To get to the bottom of this, let’s take a look at what actually comprises pumpkin spice, how it is used, and explore some theories on the potential scientific reasons behind our seemingly insatiable, seasonal longing for it.

homemade pumpkin spice liqueur

Chowhound’s Pumpkin Spice Liqueur

What Is in Pumpkin Spice?

Depending on what brand of pumpkin spice you are loyal to, whether Trader Joe’s, McCormick’s, any of the easy DIY pumpkin spice recipes available, or merely that you can’t get through the day without the supreme PSL, your pumpkin spice mix is likely to have a majority of cinnamon, with lesser parts nutmeg and ginger.

Trader Joe's Pumpkin Pie Spice, $7.65 from Amazon

TJ's adds lemon peel, cloves, and cardamom to the classic blend of cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg.
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Other spices may include cloves, allspice, cardamom, and mace, and non-spice components may include lemon zest, salt, or sugar. These latter ingredients serve more as megaphones to amplify the flavors of the former, so let’s dig into the top three spices themselves and what makes them cohere so spectacularly.

Cinnamon

cinnamon syrup recipe

Chowhound

The thing that makes cinnamon taste and smell like cinnamon is its essential oil, cinnamaldehyde, which, interestingly enough, has an alternative use as a corrosion inhibitor for metals. Perhaps there’s something to this—on some level it does actually make us feel galvanized against the coming of winter.

It’s also the leader of the pumpkin spice pack, both in terms of volume—it is more heavily used in the mix than the rest, and also in terms of volume—it has the loudest taste in flavor science terminology, coming together with a hint of smoke and natural sweetness.

Ginger

fresh ginger

Science Photo Library / Getty Images

Ginger comes from the family that also gives us turmeric, so it’s no surprise that its myriad purposes also include the medicinal. So where cinnamon may shield us, ginger can heal us. It’s no wonder we start to crave it at the onset of flu season. Its flavor is the most actually spicy among the components here, lending a slightly tart and citrusy sensation that is also genuinely warming. Just add cool air for balance.

Nutmeg

fresh nutmeg

Pixabay

Nutmeg is found within the fruit of a particular species of evergreen tree, so it follows that we are drawn to it during months when other trees go bare. Its flavor has a woodsy florality to it, with a pinch of pepper.

The result of these three together is a spice blend that has a roundness and completeness of flavor, and also of function: where cinnamon is a bark and ginger is a root, nutmeg is a seed pod—a veritable circle of life where plant-based foodstuffs are concerned.

How Do You Make Pumpkin Spice?

Simply mix all of the above together in the ratios you prefer. This version from Aliza Green adds cloves and a pinch of salt, but you could also try mace in place of nutmeg, or even a sprinkle of allspice.

Pumpkin Pie Spice

View Recipe

Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon ground ginger
  • 2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
Instructions
  1. Combine cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, and salt.
  2. Store in an airtight container for up to six months.

For bonus points, grind your own spices from their whole form.

When Was Pumpkin Spice Invented?

Pumpkin-based baked goods might be the favorite application of this trinity of flavors for many of us, and while we have frenzied it into a $500 million per year industry, Americans definitely didn’t invent the spice blend.

The first known reference to a pumpkin recipe with this style of seasoning is from the late 1700s. The spices themselves would have been being cultivated in hot weather climates such as Southeast Asia, Indonesia, and the Caribbean for millennia before, where similar blends are more commonly found in savory dishes such as curries and jerk seasoning.

The Chicagoist found reference to a “pumpkin spice cake” dating to 1936 but the blend’s popularity really spiked in America in the mid-20th century. By the 1950s, McCormick had introduced a pumpkin pie spice blend that was eventually shortened to plain old pumpkin spice, which home cooks across the nation began using in all sorts of dishes.

As for why we still love it so much, other than pumpkin spice, these kinds of extremely aromatic spice blends aren’t found in many American comfort dishes, so perhaps that’s the reason. It’s the olfactory sensation here that gives it an almost heady feeling, triggering memories of seasons past. In short, it is the most powerful smell of comfort of anything that exists in the American culinary catalogue.

Check out all the best of pumpkins on Chowhound.

How to Use It Beyond Pie & PSLs

16 Delicious Things to Make with Pumpkin Spice This Season
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What Is Oktoberfest Beer, Exactly? https://www.chowhound.com/food-news/53564/what-is-oktoberfest-beer-marzen/ Wed, 16 Sep 2020 18:00:54 +0000 http://www.chow.com/blog?p=53564

While Oktoberfest is a fest, it’s also a specific style of beer. But what is Oktoberfest beer exactly? Also known as märzen, the style of German beer is sweet, malty, and only slightly bitter, and it has an interesting pedigree.

The tradition of Oktoberfest beers can be traced to the beginning of the Munich Oktoberfest festival itself, which was supposedly inaugurated in 1810, when Prince Ludwig of Bavaria took the unusual step of celebrating his marriage in a public festival with the plebeians—instead of a private royal one. The goodwill associated with this feel-good move gained momentum and still exists today.

The Irony of Oktoberfest Beer: It’s Named for March

Oktoberfest food

Ragnar Schmuck / Getty Images

The irony of the Oktoberfest beer is that it often carries the name of another month—in German, Märzen, or March. This owes to the fact that before refrigeration, it was not possible to brew reliable beer in the summer. Because of the heat, fermentations would often go awry, resulting in bacterial infections and spoiled beer. The last feasible time to brew was in March, hence the name Märzen.

Related Reading: The Best Beer Clubs & Subscription Boxes

The beers were brewed to higher strength, as alcohol is a preservative, to further guard against spoilage. Brewed in large quantities in the spring and then sequestered deep in cool caves throughout the summer, these Märzen/Oktoberfest beers would make their long-awaited debut during the fall festival season. Technically, they must be brewed in Munich, though Oktoberfest-styled beers are now made all over.

Hacker-Pschorr Marzen / Oktoberfest, price & availability varies from Drizly

A traditional brew with an 89% rating on Beer Advocate.
Buy Now

What Does Oktoberfest Beer Taste Like?

Oktoberfest beer soft pretzels

Shutterstock

Appearing in color anywhere from a burnished gold hue to a deep brown with shades of red and orange, the beers are characterized by sweet, almost humid malt flavor that’s balanced by a slight bitter note from the hops, though not enough for the beer ever to be considered bitter. (If you’re interested in specifics, Oktoberfest lager often utilizes Saaz, Tettnanger, and Hallertau hops, but malt is definitely the dominant flavor.) Alcohol levels generally hover between 5 and 6 percent ABV.

If you’re looking for a traditional German or Bavarian beer, try Spaten Oktoberfest Ur-Märzen, Hofbräu Oktoberfest, Paulaner Oktoberfest Bier, Paulaner Oktoberfest Wiesn, and Allgäuer Oktoberfest. But you can also find American beers (craft and otherwise) in the Oktoberfest style.

Goose Island Oktoberfest, price & availability varies from Saucey

A modern American take on the style, also highly rated.
Buy Now

Read more about German beers, because they definitely don’t stop at Märzen. And pair them with some German recipes for your Oktoberfest party.

Related Video: Everything Else You Need to Know About Oktoberfest

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