Here’s the funny thing about Germany’s Oktoberfest: Tons—yes, literally, tons—of beer is tapped for maximum consumption during the 16-day festival, but there’s not much variety. Only breweries within Munich city limits can pour at the festival, meaning you’re going to spend the day tipping back liters of traditional fest beer from the likes of Augustiner, Löwenbräu, Paulaner, Spaten, Hacker-Pschorr and Hofbräu. Don’t get me wrong, that’s awesome. But, as we tend to run wild Stateside, I like a bit more variety.
Here in the States, we also have a flood of Oktoberfest-style brews on the shelves this time of year, and they’re fantastic. New Glarus, Penn Brewery, Sam Adams and Brooklyn all make phenomenal versions—seriously, pick them up if you can—but one “Oktoberfest” beer I always look forward to is Magic Hat Hex Ourtoberfest. The reason for the quotes? It’s not exactly to style, but it’s damn delicious. This version’s brewed with cherry-smoked malts and rye (as well as a few other varieties and a healthy dose of Apollo and Hallertaur hops). The result pairs toast and toffee with a subtle smokiness and bitter bite, culminating in a swallow that’s untraditional, perfect for the fall weather and insanely drinkable. This month I’m tipping back a plethora of solid Oktoberfest beers, but Hex is the highlight.
Which Oktoberfest-style beer (or variation) do you always look for this time of year?