As the day shortens and a cool crispness spikes the air, you know it’s fall. While I’m not particularly a fan of fall since it means the ominous arrival of winter, there are a few winning features that I enjoy: nature’s sublime colors, hearty food and, my personal redeemer, Oktoberfest beer. Conceived in March, bottom fermented in cold, dark caves through summer and finally released in late September into a world mimicking its coppery hue. I love this beer, its history, its process, its maltiness, sweetness, complexity, color… it is a perfect reason to celebrate fall (also the 1810 wedding of Prince Ludwig but that’s just a side story).
Like nature’s changing colors, there are hundreds of variations of Oktoberfest beer. Technically, the only beer that can claim to be Oktoberfest beer has to be brewed in Munich’s city limits, but almost every brewery in the world crafts a batch of the iconic Marzen-style for the season. This lager tends toward more malts, less hops, higher alcohol and a medium to heavy body. I have chosen to review seven from our country’s local and national micro-breweries. While traditional Oktoberfest beers include Spaten, Hofbrau, Lowenbrau, Paulaner, I’d like to see how we do on this side of the Atlantic.