It’s a special time of year when we bid a reluctant farewell to the summer months and swap out shorts and flip flops for sweaters and flannels. The last of the lemony, summer wheat beers and shandies are vanishing from the shelves and are being replaced by heartier, maltier beer options. Since we are still experiencing mild temperatures, you may not be ready to start consuming roasty stouts or robust porters, as they may seem a bit heavy for warm and sunny early fall weather. Luckily, there is a perfect beer option for the transition to the cooler months—Oktoberfest brews. Here’s a quick primer on the best beers to sip on while the leaves fall.
What is Oktoberfest beer?
“Oktoberfest” beer is typically a Märzen style lager. Traditionally, these beers were brewed in the spring (Märzen is German for March) to be consumed in the early autumn. These copper colored lagers have an easy drinking crispness, paired with a rich, full bodied backbone that matches well with drinking on a patio on a warm day or around a campfire on a cool night. Since Märzen is the primary beer style served at Munich’s Oktoberfest, it’s proper name has become synonymous with that of the famous festival.
What is Oktoberfest?
Oktoberfest traditionally kicks off in the middle of September (the 16th this year) and continues into the first week of October. It began in 1810 to celebrate the marriage of Prince Ludwig of Bavaria. Since then, the festival has grown to accommodate the millions of visitors who consume copious amounts of beer (in 2013, over 7.7 million liters of beer were served).
Although there are a multitude of “Oktoberfest” brews, only beer produced within Munich’s city limits can be served at the festival. Five of the breweries that are permitted are: Hofbräu, Augustiner-Bräu, Hacker-Pschorr, Paulaner, and Lowenbräu. While they may not be present at the Munich Oktoberfest, there are many other excellent festbiers produced in Germany, including Ayinger and Weihenstephaner.
Do they make festbiers in America?
Although many folks like to drink the traditional Munich Oktoberfest beers, there are a lot of American breweries that produce excellent Märzen style lagers. Sam Adams releases their Oktoberfest early on in the season (usually the first week in August) signifying the beginning of the autumn season. Sierra Nevada teams up with a different German brewery every year to produce their Oktoberfest. This year they partnered with Brauhaus Miltenberger to create a light golden, yet surprisingly malty brew. Jack’s Abby makes Copper Legend, a wonderfully thirst quenching, yet hearty beer that will have you reaching for can after can. Don’t be surprised if you find one of your new favorite beers when you explore the shelves during this time of year.
How can I celebrate Oktoberfest?
Not everyone has the time or money to swing through Oktoberfest in Munich, but luckily, there’s plenty of ways to celebrate right here in the Bay State. Come through Kappy’s to talk to your local beer expert or come out to our Oktoberfest Grand Beer Tastings at our Medford and Hyannis location on Saturday, September 30th from 2-5pm or our Falmouth location on Saturday, October 7th from 2-5pm. Feel free to wear your best pair of lederhosen!
Try these Oktoberfest Brews:
- Harpoon Octoberfest
- Hacker-Pschorr Oktoberfest-Marzen
- Jack’s Abby Copper Legend Octoberfest
- Paulaner Oktoberfest
- Weihenstephaner Oktoberfestbier
- Ayinger Oktober Fest-Marzen
- Dinke Acker Oktoberfest
- Spaten Octoberfest
- Sam Adams Oktoberfest
*Not all products are available at every location
Kyle Richardson, Beer Manager