Best Oktoberfest Beers

on_tap_oktoberfestWith Munich’s famed Oktoberfest in full swing and fall officially beginning, we’re eager to join the seasonal festivities with copper-colored Oktoberfest (aka märzen) beers. A German-style lager traditionally brewed in March and laid to rest in cool cellars until fall, Oktoberfest beers are malty, medium-bodied and an ideal match to the rich flavors of the season. And thankfully you don’t need to dig out your lederhosen or book a transatlantic flight to partake—here are a few of our favorites you can drink without the jetlag.

Avery The Kaiser

Boulder, CO, 9.3% ABV
Every year, Avery makes one lone lager—and this big, malty Oktoberfest is it. Part of the brewery’s Dictator Series, The Kaiser sports a gorgeous copper hue with notes of caramel and a wallop of floral hops. It’s the perfect partner for rich soups and roasted chicken.

Ayinger Oktoberfest Märzen
Aying, Germany, 5.6% ABV
Märzens are known for their slightly sweet, malty character, and this classic from Bavarian brewer Ayinger doesn’t disappoint. Its rich color is matched by its full body, with a slightly drying finish that makes it a great match for fall fare like sausages and roasted meats.

Bear Republic Late Harvest Lager

Healdsburg, CA, 6.3% ABV
The traditionally hop-heavy brewery, Bear Republic balances out bready, caramel malts with a healthy dose of hops, adding a distinctively grassy undertone to their märzen-style beer. Released annually each fall, this heady brew is currently available on draught across the country.

Bell’s Octoberfest Beer
Galesburg, MI, 5.5% ABV
Fermented over a six-week period, this full-bodied brew combines roasted apple and pear flavors with warming caramel notes on the finish. Seek it out on nitro and be rewarded with a pillowy white head and a silky mouthfeel that you’ll want to curl up with all the way into winter.

Brooklyn Oktoberfest
Brooklyn, N.Y., 5.5% ABV
True to its märzenbier style, this beer is brewed in late spring and allowed to rest before its fall release. Toasty malts and a hint of nutmeg spice are great paired with fall stews and end-of-the-summer grilled brats.

Flying Dog Dogtoberfest Marzen
Frederick, MD, 5.6% ABV
Maryland brewery Flying Dog wanted to get as close to Munich as possible with their marzen, brewing it entirely with ingredients imported from Germany. The results offer a medium body and deliciously malty flavor, and a smooth, toasty finish.

Paulaner Oktoberfest-Märzen
Munich, Germany, 6% ABV
More than a million pints of this beer are poured during Munich’s Oktoberfest, making it a palate pilgrimage for any true fan of the classic style. Pick up a bottle for balanced notes of sweet caramel, bread and a slight hop bitterness on the finish—this is one highly sessionable brew.

Sly Fox Oktoberfest

Phoenixville, PA, 5.8% ABV
Oktoberfest gets canny with this portable brew from craft-canning pioneers, Sly Fox. One sip and you’ll swoon for its smooth, creamy body, mildly floral flavors and brown sugary finish. Pair it with chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy.

Victory Festbier
Downingtown, PA, 5.6% ABV
As its name suggests, this is one celebratory beer. Comprised of nearly all-German ingredients, this brew offers sweet malt aromas, a layered mid-palate and a dry, nutty finish. And lucky for local fans who can keep the party going all year long, since the Festbier is on draught year-round in Victory’s Pennsylvania taproom.

Widmer OKTO Festival Ale
Portland, OR, 5.3% ABV
This autumnal ale from beer-loving brothers Kurt and Rob Widmer is full-bodied yet easy-drinking with sweet, malty flavors, mild hop bitterness and a finish that’s as crisp as a cool fall day.

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Check out our list of the 50 best seasonal beers beers in the September/October 2010 issue.