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Drink in Oktoberfest


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?


Chris Staten is DRAFT’s beer editor. Follow him on Twitter at @DRAFTbeereditor and email him at

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  • Blake Achterhof says:

    Anything that Southern Tier decides to grace us with, during the fall, is right up my alley! The Harvest Ale is one of the BEST fall beers I have ever had the pleasure of tasting. Hex is good, my first Oktoberfest this year, but Southern Tier’s Harvest is like drinking a trip to the pumpkin patch, while picking apples and watching College football. Everything about this beer gets me pumped for bratwursts, sauerkraut, and spicy mustard… man I’m hungry, and thirsty, cheers!

  • Veronica says:

    I really like Brooklyn’s Octoberfest. Sam’s is pretty good too. Looking forward to trying the Southern Tier recommendation if I can find it here. As for Hex, my Magic hat faves are the Winter and Summer brews (Howl and Elder Betty).

  • brandon says:

    I really enjoyed New Belgium’s Red Hoptober this year. On the German side I enjoy the Ayinger Oktoberfest and the Weihenstaphaner Festbier

  • Andy says:

    To me, Victory’s Festbier is the best O’Fest out there. And when I say that, I’m including Ayinger, Hacker Pschorr….but not Aecht Schenkerla Marzen (that IS the best). I’m no style nazi, but for my tastes O’Fest beers need to be lagers, so Hex and Harpoon are not qualifiers. Great Divide’s Hoss (Rye Marzen) is also damn darn good.

  • Jim (Aleforme) Evans says:

    Left Hand Octoberfest, Victory Festbier and Sam Adam’s are probably my favs. But, Paulaner, Hacker Pschorrand Ayinger are also some really great German Octo Brews and have always been the standard in my book.

  • Enma says:

    Just heard on NPR that for the first time ever smoking is banend at Oktoberfest. This has organizers worried; without the stench of cigarette smoke to cover up the other odors’ (urine, vomit) people will really be able to smell Oktoberfest in all it’s, uh, glory. Mmmmm. Pretty much killed my desire to make that trip.You guys should grow hops. We’ve started growing our own in our little backyard (central Mass.). We’ll homebrew with them sometime this fall- it’s our first year of any yield. Takes 3 years after planting the rhizomes to get any hops cones, but it was so worth the wait.

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