What’s so great about Oktoberfest beers? They are the perfect combination of the malty qualities one normally finds in ales and the refreshing clean finish of lagers. Oktoberfests are actually Marzens. The brewing process for these beers traditionally began in March which is “Marzen” in German. This lager is made with a lot of malt in order for it to survive the brewing process until Oktoberfest, which actually starts in September.
Yes it’s confusing that Oktoberfest actually starts in September and ends after the first week of October, but it’s because the tradition started as a wedding celebration for a Bavarian prince who was very kind to his subjects and allowed all to partake in the celebration. The people had such a great time that the celebration lasted from September until the first week of October.
When it comes to selecting Oktoberfest beers you have a great question, German or American. If you are new to the category, I would suggest starting off with the German beers, especially those from Munich as it is the origin of Oktoberfest, just to understand the classic way Oktoberfests taste. My personal favorite is made by Spaten, as it envelopes your taste buds with a nice cozy malty hug and finishes clean like a classic pale lager does. Other German Oktoberfests to keep an eye out for are Hacker-Pschorr and Paulaner. The German Oktoberfests are well rounded beers that you can find yourself having multiple and not being full.
The American Oktoberfests tend to bend the rule, with both names and the amount of hops used in the brewing process. Many American Oktoberfests will call themselves Oktoberfest or Marzen but others use terms like Harvest or just simply Fest. Now if you are more of a Hop you will like the American styles more. They add more hops to have a bit of a bite, because hoppier beers are very popular in America. American Oktoberfests will give you the malty start and mouth feel, but will have a bit of a bite at the end of the palate due to the hops. Some very good American Oktoberfests are Victory’s Fest Beer and Flying Dogs’ Dogtoberfest. I think the Dogtoberfest is one of the best American Marzen because it gives homage to the Munich styles while having their own unique spin.
Generally all of these beers are great. However the best way to determine your favorite style would be to go out buy a few different six packs and try these beers. Find out what you like but do it quickly, the supply for these fall seasonal offerings are here today, gone tomorrow!
Please check with your local Bottle King store for current inventory