Whether it’s because they’re confused by the name or just too drunk to remember, most people don’t realize that Oktoberfest actually starts at the end of September. That being said, I won’t fault you if you didn’t know that the world’s largest fair kicks off this Saturday, September 22 — but there is absolutely no reason why you shouldn’t be well-versed in Oktoberfest Beer, the main attraction of the German festival.
Oktoberfest (which is the largest fair in the world, FYI) has been held annually in Munich since 1810, and since 1818 the only type of beer that has been served is Bavarian Märzen. The beer comes in pale, amber, and deep brown varieties, and the flavor is described as malty with a clean, dry finish:
Not just any Märzen is fit to be served in mass quantities to blacked out Germans with pretzel breath, however. In order to be deemed an Oktoberfest Beer, brews must adhere to the Bavarian Purity Law (called Reinheitsgebot in German), have around 6% alcohol by volume, and be brewed by a local company within the city limits of Munich. Only six breweries currently meet these requirements and stock the entire festival: Spaten, Löwenbräu, Augustiner-Bräu, Hofbräu-München, Paulaner and Hacker-Pschorr.
Don’t be fooled: around this time of year you’ll see a lot of beers branded as “Oktoberfest” beers, but this is just a seasonal marketing technique. They may be brewed in the Märzen style, but if you’re looking for a real taste of Bavaria outside of Oktoberfest you’ve gotta hustle to find one of those six brands. Judging solely by the fact that I’ve seen them on tap in bars and beer gardens around New York, I’d say that Hofbräu and Spaten are your best bet if you want to buy an authentic beer for an Oktoberfest party this fall.
Or you could always book a last-minute ticket to Munich — Oktoberfest doesn’t end until October 7!
Have you ever been to Oktoberfest, or at least tried an authentic Oktoberfest Beer? Let us know about it in the comments!
featured image via Reddit