10 Oktoberfest Beers You Need To Drink

One of the most recognizable styles of beer known around the world is the Märzen/Oktoberfest. Originally brewed in the Bavaria region of Germany during the month of March, März in German, and regulated by the German Purity laws of 1516 also known as the Reinheitsgebot. According to law the beer could only be made out of three ingredients; water, barley and hops. This was later amended to allow malt and yeast.

The beer style is mostly known for being served at the Munich Oktoberfest, the world’s largest fair. Officially, the only beers that can be served there are those that are brewed within the city limits of Munich. Most breweries nowadays make a Märzen/Oktoberfest style beer, though they are not recognized as an official Oktoberfest beer.

On average the individual beers only vary slightly in color and have an average alcohol by volume (ABV) of about 6% which is a higher ABV than most of your recognizable beers, such as Miller Lite, Budweiser, Coors or Busch, which barely push 5%. The body color tends to be a lighter shade of gold. The difference of flavors depends on the type of ingredients (the water, barley, hops or malt) used.

Side view of a case of Beck's Oktoberfest.

Side view of a case of Beck’s Oktoberfest.

 

The 10 Beers you need to try are:

1.  Hofbräu Oktoberfestbier – To me, this is the quintessential Oktoberfest beer. It’s brewed in Munich and still abides by the Reinheitsgebot. The beer pours a golden shade with an ABV of 6.3%. Also, the beer that’s exported to America comes from the same batch that’s served at Oktoberfest. This is one of the six beers that are recognized as an official Oktoberfestbier.

Enjoying a Hofbräu Oktoberfestbier at the Hofbräuhaus in Munich.

Enjoying a Hofbräu Oktoberfestbier at the Hofbräuhaus in Munich.

2.  Weihenstephaner Oktoberfestbier – Weihenstephaner brewery, while not located in the city limits of Munich and not being sold at the Munich Oktoberfest, is still considered one of Germany’s best festbiers and the oldest still working brewery in the world. The beer pours a crystal gold color and has a 5.8% ABV. While not a very hoppy and not malty this beer is very smooth.

3.  Beck’s Oktoberfest – Beck’s is probably the most recognized German brewery in America. Though they are popular they’re not known for their festbier. To me this is a good solid beer, not as good as Hofbräu, but still a good beer! The aroma is malty but the taste is a bit watery. The color pours out amber and has an ABV of 5%.

Good to the last drop! Enjoying a Hacker-Pschorr Oktoberfest at the Hacker-Tent at the Munich Oktoberfest.

Good to the last drop! Enjoying a Hacker-Pschorr Oktoberfest at the Hacker-Tent at the Munich Oktoberfest.

4.  Ayinger Oktober Fest-Märzen – This beer like Weihenstephaner cannot be served at the Munich Oktoberfest because it is not made in Munich. This beer is a favorite to many because of its copper color and aroma of malt and caramel. It is 5.8% ABV and packs a good amount of carbonation.

5.  Spaten Oktoberfestbier – This is my second favorite festbier though it’s not always an easy beer to acquire here in America. Spaten is one of the official six Munich Oktoberfest beers. The beer is a bit hoppy and a bit malty, definitely flavorful. The beer pours a very light amber color and has an ABV of 5.9%.

6.  Warsteiner Premium Oktoberfest – Warsteiner is the 4th largest beer company in Germany and that’s why this is what’s normally served at Oktoberfest events here in America. Made year round with an ABV of 5.9% this beer has a smooth taste and is very easy to drink. The beer pours a very light golden color and is weaker in flavor than compared to a beer like Spaten. The aroma is more caramel than hops, very sweet.

Two steins of Warsteiner Oktoberfest.

Two steins of Warsteiner Oktoberfest.

7.  Hacker-Pschorr Oktoberfest-Märzen – This is another favorite of mine. Having drank this at last year’s Munich Oktoberfest, I can tell you this is a great and extremely easy beer to drink. The beer has a mild flavor of malt and a bit of hops with medium carbonation. Pouring a bold shade of gold with an ABV of 5.8% this is very much an entry-level Oktoberfest beer.

8.  Samuel Adams Octoberfest – Personally, I believe this is the easiest acquired Oktoberfest styled beer in this country which is not surprising considering it’s produced by one of the largest American owned beer companies. With an ABV of 5.3% this beer pours a dark shade of amber red which tends to be closer to the original Märzen/Oktoberfest style. It has a sweet aroma with hints of caramel, roasted nuts and spice.

9.  Cigar City Oktoberfest – Brewed in Tampa, I included this beer on the list because I am a big fan of this brewery and always like to throw in a local. This beer has a complex taste. It’s sweet in the beginning and ends up bitter. The aroma is also sweet, maybe honey, with hints of toasted malts, spice and hops. This beer pours out the typical golden shade with an ABV of 5.5%

10.  Shiner Oktoberfest – Another American made Märzen/Oktoberfest out of Texas is Shiner Oktoberfest. This beer pours out a transparent copper color with an ABV of 5.7%. The aroma is very malty and floral with a taste that is initially bitter that turns sweet, as the back of your tongue tastes the malt.

Remember if you want to go traditional then give Hofbräu, Spaten or Hacker-Pschorr a try. If you want to try a German Märzen/Oktoberfest style then give Weihenstephaner, Beck’s, Ayinger or Warsteiner a try. And if you’d like to try an American take then look for Samuel Adams, Cigar City or Shiner Oktoberfest.

So the next time you’re at your local watering hole or liquor store, pick up a couple of Oktoberfest beers, but do it quickly because once the beer runs out it’s gone until next year! Cheers! Prost!

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Creator and host of the podcast Beer, Bros & BS, teller of stories, drinker of beers, reader of (comic) books, watcher of sports, devourer of food, mostly entertaining. From Miami. Follow me on Twitter & Instagram @thebiglibrarian.

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