Munich Germany's Oktoberfest bills itself as the world's biggest fair--more politically correct than calling it the worlds biggest party, I guess. Despite its name, the event kicked off September 17. The first festival began on October 12, 1810, a celebration to mark the marriage of Bavarian Crown Prince Ludwig to Princess Therese von Sachsen-Hildburghausen. In subsequent years the ever-so-practical Germans moved Oktoberfest into September, taking advantage of the warmer weather. Of course, you don't have to travel to Munich to catch a taste of the fair. There, a liter of brew will set you back about 10 bucks. Here, you can pick up half a liter for under two.
Spaten Oktoberfest Ur-Märzen
Spaten lays claim to being the original Oktoberfest brew. Their version starts with pure aromas of fresh grass, herb, apple and citrus. It's beautifully balanced with nice fruit flavors, creamy malt, soft citrus and light hops that carry through from start to finish. It's very dry with a smoothness that is totally appealing. To my taste, it's the best of the bunch.
Paulaner Oktoberfest Märzen Amber
Rich aromas with hints of spice, fresh mown grass, supple hops and earthy citrus. The malt is a little more pronounced and a touch sweeter than the Spaten, but nice dry hops even things out. The spice overtones carry through in the mouth, backed by creamy citrus, light wheat and soft hops.
The best of the American offerings, this golden-hued brew offers subtle aromas of light hops and fresh grain. Shows good balance with a smooth hop attack up front, followed by lightly toasted malt flavors and muted citrus that builds on the finish.
Hale's Ales O'Brien's Harvest Ale
Not an Oktoberfest, but one of the absolute best autumn brews around. Made with fresh hops from the fall harvest, it's a medium-bodied ale with rich malt and a strong hop profile. Rich and creamy flavors, with a nice fresh fruit character and wonderful balance make this a top choice.