Oktoberfest is a wonderful time of year. People around the globe get together and celebrate the German culture through food, dance and beer.
Before you head off to your local Oktoberfest, it’s worth knowing what beer might be available and which you may actually enjoy the most of during your revelry. So here are the ten best styles to partake of during Oktoberfest.
Märzen is the unofficial style for Oktoberfest, with breweries typically starting to brew the style in March to be enjoyed at festivals starting in September. They have a clear, copper to reddish brown appearance, with a toasted, malty mouthfeel. They typically round out between 4% and 7% ABV.
This sour ale hails from Berlin, and is well known for its low alcohol, high carbonation, light body, and lactic tartness. It has little to no hops, so the beer’s strongest asset is it’s tartness. It’s often served with fruit syrups or blends to offset the tartness and bring out more flavours.
This is arguably the definitive German lager. Coming from the city of its namesake, the Munich Helles first appeared in 1894. Helles translates to “bright” or “blonde”, indicative of its yellow to pale golden colour. It’s typically made with Pilsner malt, noble or Saaz hops, and German lager yeast. ABV tends to sit anywhere from 4-5%.
Named after the Gose River which runs through the town of Goslar in northern Germany, this beer has hundreds of years of history. Due to the high saline content of the river, Goses were known for their saltiness, a tradition that remains. Modern craft versions add salt to the process, along with optional fruits or herbs.
Probably the most popular German-style beer globally, the Hefeweizen (or Wheat beer) is a light, easily drinking beer that tends to have notes of banana and cloves. It also happens to fall around the 5% ABV mark, which means it can be enjoyed in large quantities.
Kellerbier is a style that you may not be familiar with. Kellerbier translates to “cellar beer,” a reference to the tradition of making the beer in cooler, cave like cellars which lowered the temperature of the beer for both brewing and conditioning. Brewers also used a peculiar set of conditioning, keeping the beer unpasteurized and conditioned in an open oak cask.
As with many other beers on this list, the name is very much a direct translation of the style. Dunkel means “dark” and the beer is typically rich and complex, sometimes with a caramel flavour, sometimes with a tinge of chocolate. It’s become a very popular dark style German beer around the world.
Schwarzbier translates to “black beer” and gets its dark appearance from long-roasted malts. However, despite its appearance, it has a lighter-than-expected flavour. There are light notes of chocolate, but nothing heavy like stouts or porters. This is another style that falls in a low ABV range of 4-6%.
Rauchbier is arguably as much of a description as it is a style. In German, it translates quite simply to ‘Smoke beer’. Historically, the use of direct fire in the malting process added smoky flavours to malted grain, which carried over into the resulting beer. Today, Rauchbier can be a number of styles, as long as the process includes the smoked malt.
The bolder cousin of the Bock, Doppelbocks are the true high ABV beers of Germany. These beers has minimal hops, and the flavours can range from caramel/malty to chocolate/coffee, depending on the malt used. This is a celebration beer, and one that can range from a mere 5% all the up to an astounding 57%!
Now you know, so go enjoy Oktoberfest! PROST!