|Locally brewed Oktoberfest at Harriet Brewing.|
Oktoberfest posters always seem to be a jumble of the same cliched images: Chesty ladies with milkmaid braids, men donning those little Tyrolean hats, and elaborate steins brimming with foamy beer. But what's really underneath all those cartoonish suds?
This season's namesake beer, Oktoberfest, is its own unique style characterized by a copper-brown color, low IBU (international bitterness units), a "bready" aroma, and medium to full body. Oktoberfest styles are often referred to as Marzen-Oktoberfest or Marzenbier because they were traditionally brewed in March, right before the higher temperatures made it impossible to brew effectively. Modern technology now allows small and large scale breweries alike to make Oktoberfest styles according to their own schedules, but most still honor the tradition by releasing their Oktoberfest beers to coincide with the 16-day celebration in Munich.
Great Oktoberfest beers are on tap all over the Twin Cities. Here are our top 5.
5. Schell's Oktoberfest
This locally made and locally celebrated beer is a good beginner's Oktoberfest. Smooth, sweet, and toasty thanks to a balanced blend of Pale, Munich, and Cara Pils malts, Schell's Oktoberfest isn't too challenging to the palate, but is a delight to drink with its subtly spicy edge. Find it on tap at Stanley's Barroom
in Northeast, New Bohemia Wurst & Bierhaus
, and Gluek's
4. Harriet Brewing Marzen/Oktoberfest
3. Two Brothers Atom Smasher
This one is a more modern interpretation, aged in oak barrels for added depth and woodiness. If you like a full-bodied beer but also appreciate a good Chardonnay, this may be the Oktoberfest for you. Find it on tap at Republic 7 Corners
2. Paulaner Oktoberfest-Marzen
Though it was originally conceived as a fall seasonal, Paulaner's Oktoberfest got so popular that the brewery made it available year-round. Paulaner's version is creamier than most American styles with notes of caramel and lots of bready scent. Despite its dessert-like qualities, this Oktoberfest is really refreshing to drink. Find it on tap at the Happy Gnome in St. Paul
1. Hacker-Pschorr Oktoberfest-Marzen
Super smooth, a little herbal, and gorgeous in color, this one is considered by many to be the gold standard for the Oktoberfest style. See for yourself at Gasthof Zur Gemutlichkeit
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