When you hear Oktoberfest, the beer-drinking festival will probably come to mind rather than a brewing style. Keep reading to learn about it and discover the best Oktoberfest beer for you.
First, there was the festival
The Oktoberfest is the king among beer festivals globally. Every year, it welcomes an average of six million visitors in 36 tents featuring selected brews, traditional food, and music. The two-week event is arguably the thing that makes Munich one of the leading beer cities worldwide.
The festival hails back to October 1810, when Prince Ludwig invited 40.000 citizens to his wedding in Munich as a way to foster union across Bavaria. From then on, the town celebrated the event annually in the same place with a horse race, carnival attractions, food, and drink. By the end of the 1890s, it moved up to late September for kinder weather, stretching into early October to maintain the tradition.
Then, there was a beer
Today, Oktoberfest is also synonymous with a particular style of beer. So, what are the traits of the best Oktoberfest beers?
To begin with, the festival only serves products from six local breweries (Augustiner, Hacker Pschorr, Hofbräu, Löwenbräu, Paulaner, and Spaten), as they follow Germany’s beer purity law. This regulation dictates beer must contain only four ingredients: water, malt, hops, and yeast.
Oktoberfest brews are great for beer tasting, as they are drinkable in large quantities. You will not find them among the strongest beers in the world. The best Oktoberfest beer (See also: Beer festivals ) options are usually based on the Märzen style: an amber, rich, malt-forward lager of bready and toasty flavors, as well as a dry finish, with a 6% ABV. Nowadays, however, they tend to be more golden due to the progressive use of paler malts throughout the 20th century.
Best Oktoberfest beer options for you
The Brewers Association Beer Style Guidelines have established two distinct Oktoberfest varieties. Here are some options from both varieties so you can find the best Oktoberfest beer for you.
This golden brew has a low to medium-low sweet, clean, bready malt profile. Accordingly, its perceived bitterness is very low, as well as its hop aroma and flavor.
A leading example is the Original Oktoberfest Amber Märzen from Hacker-Pschorr. It is malty, bread-crust flavored, with the perfect balance between bitterness and sweetness.
The color ranges from pale to reddish-brown. Sporting a sweet maltiness, it has a light, toasted profile. However, the American take on the German style is hop-forward. It has low to medium-low hop aroma and flavor, usually with herbal, spicy, floral, or citrus notes. Bitterness tends to be medium-low to medium.
Some good examples of this style are the Oktoberfest, from Von Trapp, or the AleSchmidt Oktoberfest, from AleSmith. They both prominently feature hops in tandem with maltiness. Now you know which is the best Oktoberfest beer for you. So pour yourself a perfect pint with a beer head, grab some bratwurst or pretzels, and enjoy!