Oktoberfest in my backyard!
October 3, 2014 8:25 AM   Subscribe

What beer should I serve at my own Oktoberfest?

I want to have a little get together this weekend with an Oktoberfest theme. What *widely available* beer here in the states is closest to what is served at Oktoberfest in Germany? You can list regional craft brews but I doubt I can find them in my area. I do have a decent selection of German beers around here...

Bonus points for recommended foods!
posted by dukes909 to Food & Drink (12 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
It depends on what a "decent selection of German beers" means. If you've got Spaten and Paulaner, I'd grab some of them--lagers and bocks. Wursts would be obligatory. Sauerbraten. Schnitzel.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 8:38 AM on October 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

Marzens, you want Marzens. They're often labeled 'Oktoberfest' or some variation thereof. In order of preference for German Marzens:


I'd skip the pale bocks (which are a spring beer) and dunkelbocks (too wintery for me) and serve some Weisse beers-- either a hefeweisse or dunkelweisse from someone like Weihenstephaner or Franziskaner.

As far as food goes, can you get your hands on some venison, rabbit, or ox? Sucking pig? Offal? What about traditional german wursts? Because this is want you want to serve. Weird delicious sausages, pretzels, and dumplings.
posted by nulledge at 8:51 AM on October 3, 2014

Sam Adams makes a nice easy Octoberfest that most everyone likes and is available everywhere.
posted by ftm at 9:10 AM on October 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

Just about any craft beer you can find will have an Octoberfest on the shelves right now. They might now all be particularly authentic, but they'll likely taste good.
posted by COD at 9:34 AM on October 3, 2014

Märzen, natürlich.
posted by humboldt32 at 9:38 AM on October 3, 2014

If you can find German beer, you should be able to find German Oktoberfest beer, since Oktoberfest actually starts in September. The big Munich brands are Augustiner, Hacker-Pschorr, Hofbräu, Löwenbräu, Paulaner, and Spaten. I've seen the latter two more frequently than the others here in the states (and Löwenbräu has a long, convoluted history of licensing that kind of ruined its brand here in the US, but it's now owned by AB InBev and should be the real thing, if you can find it). In Munich my favorite was actually Augustiner (probably followed by Paulaner, with Spaten my least favorite Oktoberfest bier). Ayinger is from just outside Munich, so I don't remember seeing their Oktoberfest bier when I was in Munich, and their Pils was the one that made it to where I actually lived. I think they're all more or less available here now, but what you'll see in your local market is determined by your local distributor.

Some of them even come in little party kegs (5L if memory serves), but depending on how big your party is, and how big your mugs are, that might not be cost effective. If you're filling an authentic 1L Maßkrug for each guest you'll empty such a keg after merely five of them. You'll also gain a healthy respect for the waitresses who carry ten of those mugs at a time.

If you can't find any authentic German Oktoberfest beer, Fat Tire (surprisingly) might be a good choice. Oktoberfest bier in Munich is very malty with a lingering foam and substantial, but not overpowering, hops. Fat Tire tastes a bit pretzel-y to me, but not exactly wrong. Most of the domestic Oktoberfest beers I've tried were a little bit dry and hoppy compared to what you'd get in Munich, and I personally don't think the Sam Adams mentioned above has enough body, but YMMV. I learned a couple years ago I can't drink beer without unfortunate side effects, so this is all from (old) memory.

And for food: pretzels, sausage (usually weisswurst [white sausage], which are split in half and served sticking out of a round roll, with mustard), and warm sauerkraut. Those were the foods I saw most often. I was a broke college student so I survived almost entirely on pretzels and beer, with one order of sausage in there. Other meats and offal are available, but sausage and kraut is where it's at.
posted by fedward at 9:42 AM on October 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

According to Sam Adams, their Oktoberfest won a blind taste-test for Marzen-style beers, held in Germany.

If you would like to make your own pretzels, you can do it from scratch or you can use refrigerated pizza dough shaped into pretzels or just as nuggets. The key is to use enough baking soda in the water, ignore recipes that call for 2TBsp, go for at least 1/2 c.
posted by aimedwander at 10:26 AM on October 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

Real German pretzels are made with lye. As discussed there and in the LA Times you can use baking soda (or baked baking soda, which is a trick I was unaware of until just now) to try to get to the right alkalinity without the hassle of lye, but the lye is most definitely A Thing.
posted by fedward at 11:53 AM on October 3, 2014

Here's an interesting looking list of smaller U.S. breweries making Oktoberfest brews.
posted by cleroy at 12:24 PM on October 3, 2014

Although it's not located in Munich proper, another popular beer brand in Bavaria is Ayinger, which is brewed in the nearby town of Aying. Their Marzen is quite tasty, and fairly common in the US. Trader Joe's has it, for example. (In a proper 0.5L size, too!)
posted by JauntyFedora at 1:07 PM on October 3, 2014

usually weisswurst [white sausage], which are split in half and served sticking out of a round roll, with mustard

Oh god no, don't do this with Weißwurst. You should peel your Weißwurst and eat it with sweet mustard. You're probably describing Bratwurst, which is often eaten in a roll with sharp mustard, and can be white in color.
posted by kdar at 8:54 AM on October 4, 2014 [1 favorite]

Haha. You're almost certainly right, as there was beer involved (see above) and the sausage tradition was just different enough in Schwaben (where I went to school) that I am probably conflating the two.
posted by fedward at 12:54 PM on October 4, 2014

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