Prost! 10 American O-Fest Beers Worth Trying

Written by The Beer Wench. Posted in EDUCATION, LATEST

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Oktoberfest Ladies

Published on September 18, 2012 with 15 Comments

This Saturday kicks of the 179th Oktoberfest — the largest and, quite possibly, the most drunken party in the world.

As with many regional designations in the alcohol world (Bourbon, Bordeaux, Trappist to name a few), the label “Oktoberfest” is reserved for only the beer produced within the city walls of Munich, Germany. Oktoberfest Beer is a registered Trademark by the Club of Munich Brewers — meaning only said brewers can use the name. The only breweries qualified to use the name are as follows:

  • Augustiner-Bräu
  • Hacker-Pschorr-Bräu
  • Löwenbräu
  • Paulaner-Bräu
  • Spatenbräu
  • Staatliches Hofbräu-München

As with Bourbons and Bordeaux, Oktoberfest-biers are also subject to production rules. The official Oktoberfest-biers must be produced according to the Reinheitsgebot — the German Purity law that states beer can only be made from a combination of barley, hops, yeast and water (no extraneous ingredients). Also, these beers must not exceed 6% alcohol per volume.

And last but not least, the only the official Munich Oktoberfest beers are the only beers allowed to be served at the traditional Oktoberfest celebration. Quite the exclusive club, if you ask me.

Alas, what happens to the poor little heathen brewers outside the Munch city limits? Well folks, a rose by any other name. Technically speaking, any brewer can brew the Oktoberfest-style, also known as a Marzen. They just can’t call it Oktoberfest-bier. All Bourbon is whiskey, but not all whiskey is Bourbon — get me?

Although my favorite not-official-but-traditional Oktoberfest-style is from Ayinger, I also love many American interpretations. As with most traditional styles of beer, the Americans have a tendency to push the recipes limits, typically by giving them a dose of American hops. Instead of plugging the corporate-owned, not-technically-craft-beer producers of the official Oktoberfest beers, this post is dedicated to promoting the awesome O-Fest brewers in the U.S. (sorry Canadians).

It is important to note that the nature of these beers makes them extremely enjoyable while very fresh — but not so fun when drank old. So get your fill now, and please don’t cellar them unless otherwise instructed by the breweries!

10 American O-Fest Beers Worth Trying

1. Victory Brewing – Festbier

Commercial Description: Seductively smooth, this medium-bodied amber beauty is akin to the great Oktoberfest beers of Munich. All German malts and whole flower European hops make this lager true to style.

Abv: 5.6%

2. Flying Dog – Dogtoberfest

Commercial Description: Brewed with 100% imported German ingredients. Full-bodied caramel sweet with a light, toasted and crisp, clean finish.

Abv: 5.6%


3. Left Hand – Oktoberfest

Commercial Description: Biscuity, malty goodness dominates upfront while the noble pedigree hops lend a properly spicy, dry finish. Zicke zacke, zicke zacke, hoi, hoi, hoi.

Abv: 6.6%

4. New Glarus – Staghorn Octoberfest

Commercial Description: Brewed using the time honored methods and an extra slow lager to release the smooth flavor of our roasted malts. Expect this bier to pour with a rich head of foam that will enhance its incredible spice bouquet. Staghorn Octoberfest combines a smooth amber body with a clean crisp finish. Abv: 6.25%

5. Great Lakes – Oktoberfest

Commercial Description: An amber lager with rich malt flavor balanced by fragrant noble hops.

Abv: 5.2%

6. Bell’s Beer – Octoberfest

Commercial Description: Octoberfest trades in the assertive hop presence for a focus on a light caramel malt note, lending body without too much sweetness.

Abv: 5.5%

7. Avery – The Kaiser

Commercial Description: We took all that is good in a traditional Oktoberfest – gorgeous, deep copper sheen, massive malty backbone and spicy, floral, pungent noble hops – then intensified each into this, an Imperial Oktoberfest.

Abv: 9-10% (please note, this is an Imperial)

8. Brooklyn – Oktoberfest

Commercial Description: Brewed from the finest German malt and hops, Brooklyn Oktoberfest is true to the original style, fullbodied and malty, with a bready aroma and light, brisk hop bitterness.

Abv: 5.5%

9. Short’s – Noble Chaos Octoberfest

Commercial Description: A subtle hop bouquet and toasted caramel malt flavors create a well balanced beer that finishes fresh and clean. With a pleasant nose and medium body, this brew is a taste of the season.

Abv: 5.5%

10. Sprecher – Oktoberfest

Commercial Description: Traditionally brewed to celebrate the harvest season, this reddish-brown lager has a rich caramel character and a long flavorful finish. Its delicious malty sweetness is nicely accented by a slightly fruity bouquet and a mild hop flavor. Abv: 5.75%


Was your favorite American O-Fest style not on the list? Tell us about it in the comment section below!!!

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There are currently 15 Comments on Prost! 10 American O-Fest Beers Worth Trying. Perhaps you would like to add one of your own?

  1. Have you had the opportunity to try Highland Brewing Company’s Clawhammer Oktoberfest? Thoroughly moreish!

  2. Schlafly out of St. Louis makes a great Oktoberfest. Thanks for the great suggestions, this is one of favorite beer seasons.


    Another one you should try if you’re ever near Mass or states surrounding it, Prost!

  4. Love Schalfy, but have never gotten the opportunity to try their Oktoberfest… added it to my must try list!

  5. A few on the list I need to get my hands on 6,7,9 and 10. I haven’t had any as of yet but Saturday will be Brats, Speatzel and Marzen night. .

  6. ” All Bourbon is whiskey, but not all whiskey is Bourbon — get me?” is like saying all pale ales are beer, but not all beers are pale ales. You should be saying something like “All champagnes are sparkling wine, but sparkling wine not from Champagne isn’t champagne” It’s about appellations.

  7. Interesting point Kooky, but you are a bit off with the Pale Ale comparison. The Pale Ale is NOT restricted to a certain region of the world, like Bourbon is, and it doesn’t have as strict of production requirements — aka laws. I understand that the Bourbon statement was a bit general, but it’s still true. Bourbon has certain production standards (mash bill requirements, barrel-requirements, alcohol requirements etc.) and the name Bourbon is restricted to Kentucky. Perhaps I should have said that all Bourbon is technically whiskey, but whiskey that is not made of at least 51% corn, aged in new oak-charred barrels, distilled to no more than 160 proof outside of Kentucky is not Bourbon. Makes the same point as you did with Champagne. Either way, the article was not about Champagne or Bourbon…. it was about American O-Fest beers.

  8. Whisky…shmisky! Bourbon,,,shmurb–whatever! I like your list and I am sure they are all great O-beers. I am sitting down with a Great Lakes right now. Yummy!

  9. I’d like to give a shout-out to the August Schell company from New Ulm, Minnesota for making a wonderful Oktoberfest. They’re the second oldest family owned brewery in America (after Yuengling, of course) and have been consistently making some truly excellent brews for 150+ years. they distribute mainly to the midwest, so it’s understandable if most of your readers haven’t heard of them. however, they are always at GABF (in fact they won silver medal for their oktoberfest a couple years ago), so be sure to keep an eye out for them. try the emerald rye if they have some. holy crap is that ever good.

  10. Thanks Trav! I will check them out at GABF!!

  11. Mark,

    Thanks! I love Great Lakes, used to live in Ohio. Man, I miss it this time of year!!

  12. I hosted an Oktoberfest tasting and while Ayinger won out, second place was Real Ale Brewing Co out of tiny Blanco, TX. They can’t claim a history like August Schell (they’ve only been around 17 years) but their beers are really solid across the board, and they’re great people to know. They’re growing quickly, but are still only in Texas as far as I know.
    They won a gold at the GABF for their Rio Blanco Pale Ale (Special or Ordinary Bitter category) in 2010, and I’m sure they’ll be there this year too.

  13. Thanks Markus! I have added Real Ale to my list of breweries to check out during GABF!

  14. Harpoon OFest still my favorite! A bit hoppier Marzen but still dark amber roasty and malt forward. Prost!

  15. +1 for Schalfy’s o-fest. Their other fall seasonal (Pumpkin ale) is awesome too. On this list, I really like the Dogtoberfest. Kasier is of course good but strong and I have Festbier in my fridge but haven’t had it yet.

    Great blog by the way. I just found it but I’ll be adding to the RSS!

  16. [...] with a traditional Oktoberfest-style bier such as Paulaner, Ayinger or Beck’s –or try some of my favorite American Oktoberfest-style beers. [...]

  17. [...] with a traditional Oktoberfest-style bier such as Paulaner, Ayinger or Beck’s –or try some of my favorite American Oktoberfest-style beers. [...]

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