Since the site just launched and I’m really excited about that I wanted to do a big ‘ol themed list post that fits the current season. Since my usual beer run’s are a handful of beers that are random and this is a super sized list I will be calling these EPIC! (Look for an EPIC list next month on Pumpkin beers!) Oktoberfest events will be starting up soon all over the country and you could go in blind and just sample beers (that’s the most fun) or you could trust my word and just order the best of this bunch. (For a quick favorites pick head to very bottom of the blog.)
A Note about Beer Acquisition: I live in a western set city so although I have access to a lot of things there are still a bunch of really good beers that I don’t have access too. So if you think I slighted your favorite company then it’s probably only because it wasn’t on the shelf when I was at the store buying up for this big ‘ol post.
Ninkasi Brewing (Eugene, Oregon) Oktoberfest – 5.5%
“Crafted with Oregon-grown hops, this Oktoberfest marries Northwest ingredients with a traditional German style. Celebrating the harvest, this light-bodied beer has a toasty malt bouquet and just a touch of hop bitterness. Prost!”
Slightly hoppy and not much of the malty flavor that most Oktoberfest beers have. Very light color and not as amber as used to seeing in this style. Not a lot of spicy flavor either. More hops than anything in this one and not getting much of the flavor I would expect from an Oktoberfest at all.
“A German-American collaboration on the classic festival beer. We’ve partnered with Bavaria’s Weihenstephan, the world’s oldest brewery, for this American take on the classic German Oktoberfest. A malt backbone is balanced by subtle hop character in this crisp, clean, and drinkable crowd-pleaser. Nothing captures the spirit of celebration like a beer among friends.”
Pours a nice amber/gold color and smells sweet and roasty. Really sweet on first taste. Light and easy to drink. Much less hops than the Ninkasi has. Mouth feel is minimal with a crisp finish. Very easy to drink take on Oktoberfest.
“A full bodied, malty, slightly sweet beer celebrating the Autumn harvest. This rich beer has a round malt flavor and an above average alcohol content perfect for a cool fall evening.”
Saint Arnold puts out some really great seasonal beers as you will notice in most of my reviews. They are always really fresh to the taste and easy to drink. This seasonal is rich in flavor and smooth to drink. Another winner from Saint Arnold.
Spaten (Germany) Oktoberfest – 5.9%
“Created in 1872, this is the world's first Oktoberfest beer, brewed for the greatest folk festival in the world. Its impeccable taste balances roasted malt flavor with the perfect amount of hops and an underlying sweetness, true to tradition.”
One of the more widely available versions of this beer and imported from Germany so if you want that authentic beverage at your get-togethers then this is what you you would have, but is it the right choice? Like the Ninkasi it has more hops than you would expect from this style. Not sure if it’s the green bottle or the fact that is came all the way from Germany but it did have a bit of skunkiness to it as well. Slightly bitter and not overly sweet this one is not one I would recommend to the casual beer drinker.
Ska Brewing (Durango, Colorado) – 5.1%
“A malty lager with an amber-brown color imparted by nutty, bread, toasty Munich and Vienna malts. With a clean, neutral yeast flavor–it’s all about the malt.”
I had never heard of this brewery before but their Oktoberfest was a good entry into their brand. Sweet on the nost and super smooth in the mouth. Barely a bit of bitterness but not over the malt notes. Easy to drink and not too complex on any of the taste.
“First released in 2002, and sold out in two weeks. A tribute to the classic Fest styles of Germany the O’Fish uses European malts hops and yeast. A beautiful reddish color, a savory malt profile and nice hop flavor, make this Fest beer quite drinkable. OktoberFish is great with food and especially great with Lederhosen.”
Nice reddish brown color and easy on the nose with notes of spice and malts. Taste is more what I am used to when it comes to this style. Very earthy, not a lot of hop but really flavorful with the spice and maltiness. Another good one.
Ballast Point Dead Ringer (San Diego, CA) – 6.0%
“Our Dead Ringer Oktoberfest lager is inspired by old-style Märzen brews customarily enjoyed during Bavaria’s world-famous beer festival. Thanks to an abundance of toasted malt and a lower hop bitterness, this dark reddish brown lager is loaded with sweet, caramel toffee flavors and aromas. All the taste and celebration of Oktoberfest packed into one bottle; no lederhosen required.”
Dark brown in color with a big frothy head. Nose is sweet and not too spicy. The taste is a little sweeter than some of the others. There is still a kick of hops though. Not the balance that I would like in this style but not too bad either.
Samuel Adams Octoberfest (Boston, MA) – 5.3%
“In 1810, the Oktoberfest tradition was born when Munich celebrated the Crown Prince’s wedding with a special beer and 16-day party. Our version of this classic style blends hearty malts for a deep, smooth flavor wit notes of caramel, creating a brew that’s perfect for the season, or whatever you’re celebrating.”
Nice amber color to it with a decent head. Smell is not strong but a little malty. This is one of the most widely available Octoberfest that you can find and it is a decent drink. There isn’t a lot ot it but it’s balanced and really smooth so drinking it is not an issue. You would think that Sam Adams would put a little more hops into it based on their flagship beer but there really is not much hop flavor to it.
Faust Brewing Company (New Braunfels, TX) Oktoberfaust – 7%
“Summer’s heat has us all tapped out, so let’s tap the Oktoberfest spirit and celebrate fall! The authentic, imported-from-Germany ingredients give this Marzen lager a medium-bodied, malty flavor with a dry finish. A superior brew for the most supreme people on earth.”
This was a draft pour at a local place near me. They regularly feature this every year and make a ton of it so you can find it into the winter being blown out for really cheap. It’s got a good flavor and isn’t too dry at the finish like it says. I have drank more of this one than probably any of the others on this list because of said “cheap” prices so I think I can safely say that it’s a good investment.
Shiner Oktoberfest (Shiner, TX) – 5.7%
“Just like the world’s largest beer festival, our little brewery has Bavarian roots and a long tradition of honoring tradition. Which is why we made this marzen-style ale with german-grown hallertau tradition. If that doesn’t make you polka dance for joy, we don’t know what will.”
Golden amber color with a minimal head. Shiner puts out some decent beer and this one is no different. With a bit more bitter to the taste than most of the other offerings this one does set itself apart. Crisp on the tongue and easy to drink.
Odell Brewing Co. (Colorado) Oktoberfest – 6.1%
“There’s plenty to celebrate when fall arrives in Colorado. The warm days grow shorter, the cool shadows grow longer, and the aspens put on their golden, grand finale. Brewed with biscuity sweet Munich malts and spicy, herbal noble hops, our Oktoberfest is a reminder to stop and enjoy the show.”
Golden amber color and a frothy head give way to some spicy notes on the nose. Maybe the most spice I have picked up so far. The taste is malty with some spice as well. This is want my fall Oktoberfest beer to taste like. I don’t want it to be too sweet or too hoppy but I still want there to be that sense fall has arrived and here’s a little something to help you warm up at the end of the day.
Victory Festbier (Pennsylvania) – 5.6%
“Friendship and camaraderie: the two keys to any festive event. And then there’s the beer. It should be full-bodied, yet infinitely smooth. Seductively malty, with a kiss of the hops for balance. This is our Festbier. Painstakingly crafted from German malts, decoction brewed for full flavor and carefully aged for depth of character. Gather with your friends for a festive moment of Victory!”
Dark amber color and not a lot on the nose. Really smooth drink that is slightly sweet with a bit of spice. Has a bit of a carbonation type bite that I was not expecting. Not a bad beer but also not the most drinkable.
San Tan Brewing Oktoberfest (Chandler, AZ) – 5.5%
“A German Style Lager that celebrates tradition with a toasty, strong, caramel malt profile offering a clean, crisp lager flavor made for Autumn enjoyment.”
Maybe it’s because this was the first Oktoberfest beer I had this season, or just because it is really fresh having been canned just a couple weeks ago but this one tastes great! A good mix of hops and malt with a touch of spice. Exactly what I want all of them to taste like!
Schlafly Oktoberfest (St. Louis, MO) – 5.5%
“Clean and balanced in its amber color, sweetness and toasted malts, Oktoberfest is a classic crowd-pleaser authentic in its execution and evocative of its heritage. This traditional Märzen (“March” in German) originated in 16th-century Bavaria, where it was one of the last beers to be brewed for the season before being lagered in stone caves or cellars during the summer. Given months to ferment, it was then ready for consumption at the Bavarians’ fall celebration—“Oktoberfest.””
Not a lot of head on this one. Caramel color with a bit of spice and malt in the nose. Pretty creamy mouth feel and a smooth finish. Decent amount of spice and malty flavor. Not bad at all. Schlafly puts out quality beers that might not be at the top of all the lists but they are tasty and easy to drink.
Bell’s Octoberfest (Comstock, MI) – 5.5%
“Crafted as a flavorful session beer and perfect for autumn, Octoberfest spends a full six weeks fermenting. With herbal hop aromas, this balanced amber lager focuses on lightly toasted malt that lends body without too much sweetness. Perfect for a week-long wedding celebration in Germany or the start of the Michigan autumn.”
Light golden color and not too hazy like others have been. Pretty transparent. A good foamy head on it though. Sweet notes with a little bread to it on the nose. Not a big taste to it. A little sweet and floral but mostly just malts.
Goose Island Oktoberfest (Chicago, IL) – 6.4%
“Brewed in the traditional Märzen style, our Oktoberfest pours a brilliant copper over rose color with a bone white head. Notes of toffee and burnt sugar in the aroma and flavors of sweet dried apricots are delivered in a dry malty body with the mild earthy bitterness that is the hallmark of Hallertau hops.”
Copper color with a medium head. Smell is really bready with a little spice. Taste is really nice. Smooth with some spice and a little bread to it. Mouth feel is a little sticky but overall a pretty good option for this style.
Best of the bunch: Flying Fish, Odell, Saint Arnold, San Tan Brewing
Bottom of the bunch: Ninkasi, Spaten, Victory