This year's Oktoberfest selections from American craft breweries seem to be trending a bit toward the traditional—a respect for the Reinheitsgebot and German ingredients popped up in almost all of them. These 5 beers may be brewed in the US, but they're just the thing to pair with traditional German fare as you ring in the autumn.
'Oktoberfest' on Serious Eats
With the release of seasonal beers being pushed ever earlier on the calendar, mid-August usually marks the appearance of Oktoberfest on the shelves. I even saw one in mid-July this year. While some will grouse about this seasonal-creep, I don't mind so much. I would gladly drink Oktoberfest beers all year long. Here are a few dishes I like to cook up when I've got Märzenbier on hand.
Munich's Oktoberfest began not as a beer festival, but with a royal wedding—on October 12, 1810, Crown Prince Ludwig I of Bavaria married Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen, and Bavaria rejoiced. Everyone in Munich was invited by the Bavarian National Guard to enjoy the five-day party. The field in which most events were held became known as Theresienwiese, in honor of the princess. In fact, it was so much fun (and remuneratively rewarding for Munich's city fathers) that it was decided to celebrate the royal couple's anniversary each year in similar style.
Oktoberfest is just around the corner. Polka music, lederhosen, and...What is it? Oh, yes. Beer! Oktoberfest is Munich's annual beer-drenched celebration—it actually takes place mostly in September, not October. (This year's party lasts from September 17th to October 3rd.) I have an annual Oktoberfest tradition of forgetting that it's coming until it's too late. This year is no different. Nevertheless, I've just brewed my Oktoberfest beer, which will be ready just in time for my own private Oktoberfest remembrance party in mid-October.
I set out this year to try some of America's best märzens. These beers are just the ticket for getting you into a fall mood. They're rich and crisp, reminiscent of cool fall breezes and rustling autumn leaves. Check out our recommendations—but also keep in mind that freshness is king. If your local brewery makes a märzen, check it out now. If they've got one on tap, order a steinful straightaway.
If you can't make it to Germany this year for Oktoberfest festivities, you can at least drink in solidarity. We tasted twelve beers—a few traditional German märzen beers head-to-head with some American interpretations from craft brewers.