Although Munich’s Oktoberfest is most commonly associated with its beer fest, it’s actually a historical celebration that heralds a strategic marriage that strengthened Bavaria. These days, Germans and non-Germans alike celebrate that iconic day by drinking several pints of beer.
Although you might not be able to get to Germany for Oktoberfest, there are still plenty of ways that you can celebrate it at home. Make some German food, put on your favorite Oom-pah band, and grab one of these palate-pleasing beers.
Rich and Layered Sierra Nevada’s “Oktoberfest”
Sierra Nevada is often credited as one of the top American breweries, and its reputation is well deserved. Sierra Nevada’s “Oktoberfest” is a thing of beauty, a hoppy, floral, delicious riff on the style.
This beer style’s authentic flavor is thanks to a hearty dose of German hops. The resulting brew is a crisp, delicious seasonal lager full of bold hops and warm malty flavors.
Better still, at six percent alcohol, Oktoberfest is an exceptionally drinkable beer that will ring in any celebration accordingly. Sierra Nevada’s got you covered with their Oktoberfest Haus Party if you don’t have your own Oktoberfest to go to.
Aromatic and Hazy Jack’s Abby’s “Copper Legend Oktoberfest”
Jack’s Abby’s “Copper Legend Oktoberfest” is a hazy take on a classic German beer. Their version of Oktoberfest is slightly brighter and breadier than the traditional style, and its gorgeous golden amber color makes it look like a celebration in a glass.
One of the ways that Jack’s Abby makes their Oktoberfest so authentic is the German noble hops infused into its brew. Some critics say that the carbonation in this beer simply isn’t up to par, but we find it perfectly balanced.
This Oktoberfest is a perfectly suitable beer for people who swear that they don’t like the style. One sip and they’re sure to be saying “Ein Prosit”!
Herbal and Fresh Surly Brewing Company’s “Oktoberfest”
When you think about Oktoberfest, you might not think about fresh, bright herbs, but that’s precisely what you’ll get with Surly Brewing Company’s “Oktoberfest.” They have taken a familiar style and made it all their own.
Surly Brewing Company knows better than to mess with the basics, incorporating traditional Vienna malt into their brew. After that, though, all bets are off.
This Oktoberfest contains a hearty dose of rye, which gives it a layered, interesting flavor that’s almost tough to place. Additionally, the brewers use Sterling hops for an herbal flair that makes the blend all the more interesting.
The result is a deep, floral aroma and a slightly spicy and sweet taste. It might not be a traditional Oktoberfest, but it’s certainly one to celebrate with this festive season.
Subtly Sweet Sam Adams’ “Oktoberfest”
Go to just about any bar or restaurant during autumn, and you’re bound to run across Boston beer company Sam Adams’ “Oktoberfest.” This beer is a best-seller for a reason; it’s one of the best beers on the planet.
Sam Adams brews its signature Oktoberfest with high-quality German hops and just the right amount of malt for a balanced brew that’s easily drinkable. Although this Oktoberfest tends to be a little sweeter, it’s never overpowering.
Expect delicious vanilla and caramel notes laced with the hearty taste of classic malt and barley. Some people even think that this Oktoberfest has a salted toffee flavor on the back end.
One of the best aspects of this beer is that it isn’t too heavy. As a result, you can make the smooth transition from Sam Adams’ Summer Ale to Oktoberfest without even skipping a beat.
Spicy and Addictive Great Lakes Brewing’s “Oktoberfest”
Great Lakes Brewing’s “Oktoberfest” is a spicier version of the beer we’re used to, and we love it. So if you want to get the closest thing possible to fall in a glass, you need to check out this beer.
It starts with a malty undertone. This malt is layered and full of deep autumn flavors and just a touch of bitterness, offset by the addition of Noble hops for a bright kick.
The body of Great Lakes Brewing’s beer is dark copper, with a healthy foamy head. Expect aromatics right away, specifically the caramel and spice, then dig in.
This beer is just warm and inviting, with heavy tones of toast from the grain and just the right amount of bitterness. It’s a superb take on Oktoberfest and one you should certainly try.
Low-Key Half Acre’s “Lager Town”
Although this is one of the only beers on our list not to have “Oktoberfest” in the name, Half Acre’s “Lager Town” is a fine example of the style anyway. It’s an excellent example of how you don’t have to show off when you know your product rocks!
One of the best things about this beer is that it’s not just available around Oktoberfest. Since Oktoberfest beers are considered specialty items, we only get to enjoy them for a short time.
On the other hand, you can revel in the glorious taste of Lager Town whenever you’d like! As with traditional Oktoberfests, this one is a beautiful deep golden color with an intoxicating aroma that smells just like hops, yeast, and of course, caramel.
It’s got just the right amount of spice and a beautiful toffee undertone that keeps it from getting too bitter. This brew certainly stands up to the best Oktoberfest official beer both in taste and style despite the name.
Bold Brooklyn Brewery’s “Oktoberfest”
Brooklyn Brewery is known for embracing bold flavors, and their “Oktoberfest” is an excellent example of when to push the envelope and when staying with tradition is a better bet.
Brooklyn Brewery starts with German malt and hops, building their beer on a framework of German tradition. It’s a deep, rich base that’s delicious all on its own but not too heavy to pair with some of fall’s favorite dishes.
Brooklyn Brewery’s Oktoberfest combines all of the classic flavors of the style, but they do it with the expertise you wouldn’t expect outside of Munich. As a result, this beer is a true treasure, from the copper ale to the faint notes of malt and toffee.
Malty, Marvelous Hi-Wire’s “Zirkusfest”
As its zany name suggests, Hi-Wire’s “Zirkusfest” is an imaginative and bold beer. It gives the nod to traditional German Oktoberfests while still going its own way.
One of the most exciting things about this beer is that it’s not afraid to shy away from bitterness. While many Oktoberfests try to mask the bitterness in their beers, Zirkusfest embraces it and even doubles down.
They start with a traditional Oktoberfest, big on maltiness and rich toffee flavors. The finish is what’s impressive, though; bitter hops that hit your palate on the back end of your swallow.
Zirkusfest plays with the duality of malt and hops expertly, creating a delicious surprise at the end.
Austrian-Style Schilling Beer Company’s “Konstantin”
While most Oktoberfests go full-on German in their brewing methods, Schilling Beer Company’s “Konstantin” takes a bit of a different tack, celebrating the Austrian way of brewing beer. The result is a fun new riff on an old classic.
The Austrian style is a little less sweet than its German counterpart. Expect less honey and toffee and a more traditional malty flavor.
This beer is good news for people who shy away from Oktoberfests because they’re too cloying on the palate. Instead, reach for a Konstantin, and you’ll get all of that bold and beautiful Oktoberfest flavor with only a touch of sugar.
Konstantin finishes a little hoppier than most Oktoberfests and tends to wind up on the drier side. Many people like this because they feel like its clean finish freshens up the palate for the next beer.
Even if you’re not doing a beer tasting, Konstantin is a fabulous drink and one that breaks the mold ever so slightly while still paying homage to the style.
Mighty Brew Avery Brewing Company’s “The Kaiser”
Avery Brewing Company’s “The Kaiser” is a robust beer and a superb example of precisely what a Marzen should be. This balanced lager is boozy with caramel and floral notes, making it a great candidate to celebrate with.
As an Imperial Lager, it’s a lot deeper than many beers on this list. Although The Kaiser can certainly stand alone, it pairs well with comfort food dishes and an Oktoberfest buffet.
Instead of using a single malt, The Kaiser features two; Munich and Vienna styles. This combination gives it a rich interplay and lets you taste minor notes in the different malts.
Similarly, Avery Brewing Company incorporates Bravo and Hellarau hops into the blend to add a spicy, floral finish that’s just heavy enough to be noticeable. It’s never overpowering, though, a massive credit to the master craft brewers at Avery Brewing Company.
This big, beautiful beer would fit into any Oktoberfest celebration, and it makes the perfect gift for the beer lover in your life. So grab one for yourself and celebrate in style with the best Oktoberfest beer.