It’s October! And what do we beer lovers do in October? Duh, we celebrate Oktoberfest! There are many fine beers available at this time of year, and finding the right one for our specific needs is a bit of a no-brainer. Märzens, also known as Oktoberfest biers, are the traditional lagers served at Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany since 1810, and their roots have been traced as far back as the 1500s.
Märzens are one of my favorite lagers on Earth. They’re rich, malty and toasty, with nice vanilla notes. The hops are generally mild and grassy, with an ABV of 5.0% – 6.0%. Right now, there are many, many options floating around the state. Gordon Biersch makes a fine Märzen, as does Epic (Fest Devious), Red Rock (Autumn Fest), Desert Edge, Roosters and on and on.
You get my point? There is a shload of great options, but I have to choose three beers that I think are your best bets. Here they are:
Hoppers Stein Knocker
Serving Style: On Tap
Description: Orange and copper are bright in the glass. The nose is of vanilla, earthy fruit and caramel. The taste starts with caramel malts that evolve to a vanilla/malt note, and then finish with a clean orange- peel dryness that cleanses the palate just as the malt elements start to stick around on the tongue. It’s crisp, clean and perfect.
Overview: In 2011, this beer was named the best Märzen in the U.S. at the Great American Beer Festival. Yes, it’s that good, and only available at Hoppers.
Brewery/Brand: Bohemian Brewery
Serving Style: On Tap
Description: The nose on this one is sweet with toasted grain and bready caramel. The taste is similar with the addition of orange peel and grass. The grassy/floral hop bitterness is assertive enough to balance out the beer, making it very drinkable. The mouthfeel is light to medium, mellow and delicious.
Overview: This is a wonderful beer. Bohemian specializes in Old World lagers. The brew team in Midvale has come up with a great, low-alcohol interpretation on this festival beer. Check it out at the brewery and Snowbird’s Oktoberfest.
Ayinger Oktober Fest-Märzen
Brewery/Brand: Privatbrauerei Franz Inselkammer KG / Brauerei Aying
Serving Style: 500 ml Bottle
Description: The appearance of this offering is much lighter than the others, with more of a light-orange color. The nose on this is just amazing: very complex with apple, fruity malts, nuts and vanilla. The taste starts with a malty sweetness that dominates the front end. Molasses and roasted notes come next. The finish is semi-sweet with toasted barley, fruit, light bitterness and some yeast notes. This is a nicely balanced, crisp and refreshing Oktoberfest. Very nice.
Overview: This is the only German-made beer reviewed. Many consider this beer to be the original Oktoberfest bier. Insanely drinkable, you should definitely snag a few of these while they’re around.