I don’t usually do this, but last October I tried an Oktoberfest challenge. I tried a different Oktoberfest or Pumpkin beer every day in October. I learned a lot, and I’ve decided this year, to help you, by posting my favorite Oktoberfest beers.
Oktoberfest is a 2-3 week festival held annually in Germany, running from late September to the first weekend in October. It’s an important part of Bavarian culture, having been held since 1810. The Munich Oktoberfest was established to honor the marriage of Prince Ludwig and Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen, and is now one of the most famous events in Germany and is the world’s largest fair, with more than 5 million people attending every year.
Only beer which is brewed within the city limits of Munich is allowed to be served in this festival and can be officially designated Oktoberfest Beer. Oktoberfest Beer is a registered Trademark by the Club of Munich Brewers, but many brewers still brew “Oktoberfest-style” or Märzen beers.
It has a very sweet and caramelly aroma, along with a full body reminding me a bit of a barleywine, with big caramel and toffee like malty flavors. However, it doesn’t deliver the same kind of alcohol kick or warmth, coming in, appropriately, at 6.66% ABV. While it’s not necessarily a Märzen, the maltiness is perfect for fall weather.
Coming in at 9.73% ABV, this is our choice for a cool fall night when you need something to warm you up. It’s got a malty aroma with a bit of fruitiness, along with a full body and smooth mouthfeel. It’s surprisingly fruity caramel malt flavor with plenty of sweetness and alcohol warmth in the finish. However, despite it’s high alcohol content, it’s not overwhelmingly alcoholic and would be a good late fall beer that could help to get you through the holidays.
A good medium bodied and smooth beer with a light caramel-like malty flavor up front which grew a little bit in the finish. This is a pretty drinkable Oktoberfest with the classic caramel-like malty flavors. Overall, it was pretty much in-line with what you’d expect from an American version of an Oktoberfest Märzen.
The first true Oktoberfest from Germany on the list, this Märzen is clear brown-amber in color and has a very nice, very pronounced malty, caramel aroma. It tastes pretty much how it smells – very malty, toasty, and caramelly. There are some hints of bread and biscuit, and overall, it’s a very flavorful, but very drinkable Oktoberfest.
Our best ranked Oktoberfest from an American brewery, this beer has a light malty aroma and a smooth mouthfeel. There’s a light caramel flavor that stays consistent throughout, with a bit of bitterness and a fuller malty-caramel flavor in the finish. It’s flavorful, drinkable, and smooth – great for a cool October evening.
I will admit, having had other Beck’s beers I wasn’t expecting much. However, this one surprised me. I really liked the grainy, malty aroma, which reminds me of smell when mashing in grains. It’s light with plenty of crispness, with a light grainy, malty flavor which leads to a caramel-like finish. The graininess provides a nice undertone throughout, giving a very drinkable beer a nice complexity.
This beer was neck and neck with the Beck’s Oktoberfest, edging it out slightly because of it’s slightly better drinkability. It shares the distinct grainy aroma and flavor, but has a nice light caramel maltiness. Overall, both beers are good and the graininess that adds a complexity that makes you feel a little bit closer to the fields and the fall harvest.
It doesn’t get much more authentic Oktoberfest than this beer (except maybe our #1 pick). There’s a bready/wheaty aroma and flavor throughout this beer. In the finish, you’ll pick up on a bit of German hop spiciness. This bier is crisp and refreshing, very drinkable, and when you drink it, you can certainly understand how people can drink liter after liter and boot after boot of this Hofbräubeer at the real Oktoberfest celebration in Munich.
A bit of a break from the traditional, this is a “Rauchbier Märzen,” or a smoked Märzen. With a peat smoked malt aroma and a hint of sweetness, this beer tastes incredible. The smokiness is just right, with a good malty backbone, and a great slightly grainy taste in finish and aftertaste. It is the perfect pairing for fall BBQ. Even if you’re not a fan of smoked beers, the flavor is light enough, I’m sure you’ll still love this beer.
This is partially number one because it’s pretty much the quintessential Oktoberfest brew – one of the classic, true Oktoberfest beers in Munich. Light, smooth, and drinkable, you can definitely close your eyes and imagine yourself drinking this from a glass boot or enormous stein in Munich. It’s light maltiness, and crisp, clean finish, make it the best Oktoberfest beer on our list. If you can find it on draft like we did, get it.
If you think there’s an Oktoberfest we missed from our list, let us and other readers know in the comments section below.