On October 12, 1810, Crown Prince Ludwig of Bavaria married Princess Therese of Saxony-Hildburghausen. And thank the beer gods he did, because over 200 years later, we are still celebrating that royal wedding by eating Brats and drinking fresh, flavorful beer out of giant steins!
Traditionally, Oktoberfest is a Marzen-style beer, which can be confusing because Marzens are brewed in March. Before refrigeration, the summer would be too hot to make beer because you couldn’t control the fermentation. So it was decreed that beer would only be brewed between the fall and spring months. On top of the King’s anniversary, this autumnal celebration was an excuse to drink all of the summer’s beer to prepare for fall brewing.
Although Oktoberfest is technically a German tradition, American brewers have taken it on with gusto. Everyone from Leinenkugel to Short’s has an Oktoberfest beer now, and they all sell out quickly! Whether you are a traditionalist, drinking only Bavarian beers like Hacker-Pschorr, Spaten or Paulaner, or bounce around, tasting whatever you can get your hands on, here are my picks for celebrating Oktoberfest:
Paulaner Oktoberfest Märzen Münich Germany $10.99
Brewed in the traditional Märzen style, which imparts a richer maltier flavor than others, the Paulaner has notes of toffee and spice with a touch of refreshing bitterness on the end.
HofBräu Oktoberfest Münich Germany $8.99
If I had the chance to go to Oktoberfest and drink copious amounts of Oktoberfest beer from morning to night, I’d choose Hofbräu because it is so very drinkable. Hofbräu Oktoberfest is not made in the Märzen style, so it is not as spicy and rich. It is, however, full bodied, hoppy, crisp, and refreshing!
Short’s Noble Chaos Bellaire, MI $9.49 –
Playing off the noble wedding and use of Noble hops, this up-north version of a Marzen Oktoberfest is very limited. The extra age makes it toasty with notes of caramel and molasses. The slightly bitter, hoppy quality on the finish leaves you wanting more.
Oktoberfest is technically only two weeks long, starting this Saturday, September 16, and even though these beers are the perfect complement to fall cuisine, they won’t last long. So you choose a Bavarian beauty or a Michigan native, be sure to scoop some up soon!