We love seasonal beers, and Oktoberfest Biers are among our favorites.
We’re not alone. Autumn is a favorite season for many, for a variety of reasons. In Las Vegas, where we reside, the changing of the season means a cooler season where we can grill and chill outside in that “under 100 degree” comfort zone. The weather this time of year is amazing, and the seasonal lagers are a perfect compliment.
Oktoberfest beers are the perfect seasonals transitioning from the fuller summer selections to (for me anyway), somewhat lighter beers. Their golden copper-orange hues are a colorful complement to the fall landscapes and changing colors that I remember when I lived in the beautiful Northwest. Most Oktoberfest brews are brewed in amber tones.
Beyond color, Oktoberfest beers are unique for some other great reasons, mostly because of their purity. According to the 1516 Bavarian law regulating Oktoberfest biers, the only ingredients that could be used in the production of beer were water, barley, and hops. Simple. We like that.
The Reinheitsgebot, sometimes called the “German Beer Purity Law” in English, is a series of regulations limiting the ingredients in beer in Germany and the states of the former Holy Roman Empire. The best-known version of the law was adopted in Bavaria in 1516, but similar regulations predate the Bavarian order, and modern regulations also significantly differ from the 1516 Bavarian version.
BEER FACT: Only beer conforming to the Reinheitsgebot, and brewed within the city limits of Munich, can be served at the Munich Oktoberfest. Only beers meeting these criteria are designated Oktoberfest Beer.
- Staatliches Hofbräu-München
Fortunately, in America, we have a few more choices. Rather than getting al “techy” about beers, we’re going to give you our take on a variety of Oktoberfest beers while focusing more on the look, scent, taste, mouthfeel, and finish. In the spirit of fairness, we started our day with a stop by our local Total Wines and More store in Las Vegas to pick up a selection of those fantastic seasonals. Let me tell you, it was tough. They have 17 different Oktoberfest beers to choose from (plus the Samuel Adams Octoberfest – spelled with a “c”). And although it was not easy to settle on our selection for this post, we kept reminding ourselves that we do this for YOU.
Today, we’re sharing our initial seven picks to compliment the home-made sausages that Beti is making (as I type). Our list of Oktoberfests includes Brooklyn, Victory Fetsbier, Erdinger, Leinenkugel’s, Shiner, Spaten, and Warsteiner.
My first taste of the day is the Spaten Oktoberfest, which is natural since that is also what Beti added to her sausage recipe, so I started my experience by finishing off her bottle since we only used about 1/3 of the bottle for our wurst blend. After all, in our experience homemade sausages are best with a few ounces of beer mixed into the recipe. We’ll also simmer those brats it in the Spaten so we picked up a six-pack along with a few strays of assorted beers. Oh, the things we do for you.
What an awesome way to start. The Spaten Oktoberfest is delicious and at 5.9% alcohol, it’s strong (by beer standards).
Warsteiner Premium Oktoberfest was the lightest of the beers in both color and flavor. It’s more of a warm yellow/hay colored than some of the others. We’ve enjoyed this particular beer many times, and it’s become a favorite of ours, and since it’s available year-round, it’s always easy to find a case and enjoy when the mood hits. As our sausage ring was ready to cook, we included three bottles to the brew and let our sausage simmer in it for a while before tossing it on the grill. A hint of citrus on the nose with a clean finish makes it both an awesome grilling beer and pleasing to drink — 5.9 % alcohol.
True to the original German Oktoberfest Bavarian style, Brooklyn Oktoberfest is full-bodied and malty, with a bready aroma and light, brisk hop bitterness. Its deeper amber/copper color is pleasing, and its taste is somewhat bolder and full-bodied.
When Crown Prince Ludwig of Bavaria wanted to celebrate his wedding engagement in 1810, he did what any good Bavarian prince would – he threw a beer festival. Both the festival and the special beer served there became known as Oktoberfest. Brewed from the finest German malt and hops, Brooklyn Oktoberfest is true to the original style, full-bodied and malty, with a bready aroma and light, brisk hop bitterness.
Leinenkugel’s proud German heritage shines through in their homage to arguably the world’s greatest festival, Oktoberfest. A traditional Märzen-style beer, Leinenkugel’s Oktoberfest has a toasted malt flavor and subtle, spicy hop notes that make it perfect for celebrating fall in true German fashion. Similar in color to the Brooklyn Oktoberfest, straight from the glass, Leinenkugel’s carbonation dissolves around your tongue in a delightful blend of flavors. I have to admit that I am most familiar with the Leinenkugel’s since we’ve been enjoying it for a while. It’s available at our local Costco store in twelve-packs, from August through September, and elsewhere, so they make it easy to get.
Another amazing beer, the Shiner Oktoberfest is a GABF Gold Medal 2012 winner. Like most Oktoberfest brews, it pours as a copper-amber color with aromas of sweet malt with hints of burnt sugar and earthy hops in the background. Sweet roasted malt flavors with hints of hop bitterness for balance. Thumbs up!
I am a hefeweizen guy more often than not, but the Oktoberfest varieties that I’ve experienced are all fantastic. To date, I haven’t have tasted one that I didn’t like, so I for one, am glad that ’tis the season for these fantastic beers, so we’re looking forward to enjoying as many as we can.
You’ll want to enjoy your Oktoberfest beers with a massive, massive, sturdy, large mug with a strong handle, so you get a sense of its delicious aroma and flavor.
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Oktoberfest Beer is a registered trademark by the Club of Munich Brewers, which consists of the above six breweries. (source: https://www.oktoberfest.de/en/article/Oktoberfest+2018/About+the+Oktoberfest/Munich+breweries+on+the+Oktoberfest/1691)
GOVERNMENT WARNING: (1) According to the Surgeon General, women should not drink alcoholic beverages during pregnancy because of the risk of birth defects. (2) Consumption of alcoholic beverages impairs your ability to drive a car or operate machinery and may cause health problems.