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11 Best Oktoberfest Beers From Märzen to Festbier

Although the traditional German celebration has passed, we’ve still got about two more months of prime Oktoberfest beer drinking to indulge in. The seasonal lager with German roots dates back to the early 1800s. Now, practically every brewery jumps at the opportunity to showcase its take on the historical brew made popular by Crown Prince Ludwig of Saxony Bavaria.

We won’t get too deep into the brew’s Oktoberfest history. Still, for some background and understanding, two traditional German brewing styles fall into the Oktoberfest category; Märzen and Festbier. Märzen is a malty, dark-amber lager that typically has more alcohol content than most lagers. The beer is rich yet has a clean, dry finish.

Once Oktoberfest became a thing and started attracting tourists, the watered-down version of the Märzen recipe came about, known as Festbier. Festbier is pretty much the exact same as a Märzen, just scaled back in every category. Think of it this way: Festbier is to Märzen as Coors Light is to Original Coors –the banquet beer.

These days, breweries worldwide usually stay somewhere between the two traditional Oktoberfest brewing methods while putting their own twist on it. Here are some of the best Oktoberfest beers to enjoy this season. It’s no surprise that many come from Germany’s top 6 breweries. Still, there are some great American Oktoberfest beers peppered in as well.

Hacker-Pschorr Oktoberfest Märzen

A six pack of Hacker-Pschorr Oktoberfest beer.
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Hacker-Pschorr of Munich is not only a pioneer for the Märzen brew but beer in general. Beginning 1417, this brewery was churning out beers before beer was even discovered. This deep rich amber-red Oktoberfest is brewed with the purest of Bavarian spring water and is one of the highest-rated Märzens around.

Hofbräu Oktoberfestbier

Hofbrau Oktoberfest in a mini keg.
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Another one of Germany’s top six, Hofbräu’s Oktoberfestbier, is one of the few beers on this list that takes the Festbier approach to its brew. It pours a lighter color with a crisp and slightly sweet finish for maximum drinkability. The perfect beer when utilizing Das Boot.

Paulaner Oktoberfest Märzen

A bottle of Paulaner Oktoberfest beer.
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Paulaner is not Munich’s oldest brewery, but it is one of its most popular. Its Oktoberfest Märzen is perhaps one of the most well-balanced that you will find. It delivers a creamy mouthfeel with a rich bready taste that’s balanced out with a sweet, caramelly finish.

Augustiner Oktoberfestbier

Augustiner Okoberfest beer in bottle and stein.
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Rounding out our German picks is another from one of the top six. Like Hofbräu, Augustiner takes the Festbier approach to its Oktoberfest brew. Light, crisp, and extremely drinkable, Augustiner is the beer that you pick when you’ve planned some all-day Oktoberfest partying to do.

Devil’s Backbone O’Fest

Devil's Backbone O'Fest ber on a table outside.
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Moving on to some great American Oktoberfests, Devil’s Backbone out of Roseland, Virginia crafts an excellent Märzen. Combining traditional German brew methods with some of its own flair, you get a comforting splash of autumn spice in the aftertaste of this beer.

Bell’s Oktoberfest

Bell's Oktoberfest beer in a bottle and glass.
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Some cities in the Midwest make you feel like you’ve been transported into the Hinterland. So, it’s no surprise that acclaimed Michigan brewery Bell’s can craft an Oktoberfest Märzen that can go toe-to-toe with any of the German top six.

Sierra Nevada Märzen

Sierra Nevada Märzen in a bottle and glass.
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The bottom line is, there’s never been a beer that Sierra Nevada has made that we don’t enjoy. Their Märzen feels heavier than most, with an almost chocolatey toffee finish. Yet it’s crisp and light enough to enjoy a few in one sitting and not feel weighed down.

North Peak Brewing – Dauntless

Dauntless Beer from North Peak Brewery.
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Dauntless is another beer coming from the mitten state. It’s named after a mythical troll that hangs out under the Mackinaw Bridge. Although we can’t attest to the existence of Dauntless, we can say this is a delicious Märzen heavy in malty caramel flavor with a slightly dry hoppy finish.

Revolution Oktoberfest

Revolution Brewery's Oktoberfest beer in a can.
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Chicago’s Revolution Brewing’s Oktoberfest is a Märzen that’s full of flavor. Notes of orange marmalade and spice are found in this slightly darker than normal Oktoberfest.

Breckenridge Brewery Oktoberfest

A bottle and mini keg of Breckenridge Brewery's Oktoberfest beer.
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Colorado’s Breckenridge Brewery is a small, sustainable craft brewery with the mission of connecting people through beer. Its Oktoberfest doesn’t disappoint and offers a well-crafted Märzen with clove, nut, and cherry notes.

Editors' Recommendations

Lee Heidel
Lee Heidel is the managing editor of Brew/Drink/Run, a website and podcast that promotes brewing your own beer, consuming the…
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