The 8 Best Oktoberfest Beers in 2023

By Bob Barnes

Celebrate Oktoberfest with these Oktoberfest Beers

Since it is hard to make the trek to Munich, you can still enjoy some of the same beers being served across the Atlantic. In fact, three breweries featured on GAYOT’s Best Oktoberfest Beers are among the six that are allowed to serve beer at the true Bavarian Oktoberfest.

The Oktoberfest style, also known as Märzen, was originally brewed around March (Märzen derives from März, the German word for March) before modern refrigeration, when brewing during the summer was problematic due to high temperatures that could result in bacterial infections. The beer was lagered (kept in cold storage) over the hotter months and brewed at a higher gravity (or alcohol content) to help it maintain stability against the summer heat.

This German lager style tends to be full-bodied, malty, toasty and dark copper-hued, with a slightly greater alcohol content and just enough hops to balance the sweetness. It’s an ideal beer for early fall drinking — lederhosen or not.

> Check out GAYOT’s Oktoberfest Events Across the US

1. Ayinger Oktober Fest-Märzen

Ayinger Oktober Fest-Märzen

Origin: Aying, Germany
Beer type: Märzen
Price: $2.99 for 16.9 oz
ABV: 5.8%
Brewed by: Ayinger Brewery

The Ayinger Brewery, founded in 1878 and located in the Bavarian village of Aying, is no stranger to brewing medals — its Oktober Fest-Märzen is one of the most highly respected Märzens in the world.

It pours a golden color tinted with amber, and offers aromas of floral hops balanced with slightly sweet malt. Flavors of caramel and nutty malt form the backbone and it’s balanced with a perfect pitch of hops to fight off lingering sweetness. Its medium body and moderate alcohol content is not overpowering, making this an easy drinking beer that will pair nicely with a plate of sausage and sauerkraut.

2. Firestone Walker Oaktoberfest

Firestone Walker Oaktoberfest

Origin: Paso Robles, CA, USA
Beer type: Märzen
Price: $8.99 for four-pack 16 oz
ABV: 5%
Brewed by: Firestone Walker Brewing Company

Don’t be misled by the name — this Märzen is fermented in stainless steel, not oak, but is named in honor of the brewery’s hometown Paso Robles, which is Spanish for “Pass of the Oaks.”

The checkered blue and white pattern on the label represents the Bavarian flag, while the Bavarian Augustiner Lager yeast it’s fermented with adds to its European authenticity. Imported Pilsner and Vienna malts, along with German Hallertau hops, bring balance. This seasonal option is richer, more full-bodied and hoppier than most representations of the style, and pours a long-lasting, frothy white head.

3. Hacker-Pschorr Original Oktoberfest

Hacker-Pschorr Original Oktoberfest

Origin: Munich, Germany
Beer type: Märzen
Price: $9.99 for six-pack 12 oz
ABV: 5.8%
Brewed by: Hacker-Pschorr

Hacker-Pschorr is one of Bavaria’s pre-eminent breweries, having been in existence since the 15th century.

They’re actually one of the original breweries commissioned to brew beer at the first Oktoberfest in 1810, and are one of only six Munich breweries allowed to serve beer at the city’s world-famous Oktoberfest. Hacker-Pschorr’s traditional recipe utilizes natural spring water, dark- and light-colored malt from two-row Bavarian summer barley, a centuries-old Hacker-Pschorr yeast strain and Noble Hallertau hops. With a warming amber color, rich and clean toasted malt flavors and a sweet hop aroma, this legendary Oktoberfest beer is light, delicious and truly authentic.

4. Hofbräu Oktoberfest

Hofbräu Oktoberfest

Origin: Munich, Germany
Beer type: Märzen
Price: $9.99 for six-pack 11.2 oz
ABV: 6.3%
Brewed by: Staatliches Hofbräuhaus

The Staatliches Hofbräu brewery was founded in 1589 in Munich as a court-owned enterprise run by a duke.

This is not exactly the typical Oktoberfest brew. Hofbräu’s hops are a bit more prevalent, the alcohol content slightly higher and the appearance a shade paler than the classic Märzen. Light caramel and malt flavors add to the beer’s fine balance, particularly when paired with bratwurst or suckling pig.

5. Paulaner Oktoberfest Märzen

Paulaner Oktoberfest Märzen

Origin: Munich, Germany
Beer type: Märzen
Price: $9.99 for six-pack 12 oz
ABV: 5.8%
Brewed by: Paulaner Brauerei GmbH & Co. KG

Minim friars founded Paulaner in 1634 and named the beer in honor of the patron saint of their own order, Saint Francis of Paola.

Characteristic of the style, this Märzen is amber-hued with a full malt aroma and a thick, creamy, foamy froth. The taste offers a decidedly nutty light roast with an emphasis on malt sweetness that’s smooth and well balanced. It’s no wonder that Paulaner is one of the only officially designated beers allowed to be served at the Munich Oktoberfest.

6. Santa Fe Brewing Oktoberfest

Santa Fe Brewing Oktoberfest

Origin: Santa Fe, NM, USA
Beer type: Märzen
Price: $9 for six-pack 12 oz
ABV: 6%
Brewed by: Santa Fe Brewing Company

This lager from New Mexico’s oldest brewery (founded in 1988) pays tribute to the original Märzens served at Ludwig I’s wedding.

Its use of German ingredients — Pilsen and Munich malts with Hallertau and Tettnanger hops — make it a traditional representative of the style. The malts and 100% natural spring water result in a beautifully clear golden-amber color and a mild hop presence allows the semi-sweet bready, malt-forward flavors to dominate. This brew is proof that American brewers are equal to the task of recreating their own versions that can stand up to their German counterparts.

7. Surly Brewing Company SurlyFest

Surly Brewing Company SurlyFest

Origin: Minneapolis, MN, USA
Beer type: Märzen
Price: $12.99 for six-pack 12 oz
ABV: 6%
Brewed by: Surly Brewing Company

Surly Brewing Company, a forward-thinking Minneapolis operation, proudly informs would-be buyers that this seasonal offering is “not a German-style Oktoberfest bier.”

The American-made Märzen displays a deep amber hue and uses three types of rye to deliver a spicy biscuit-like flavor that complements floral Sterling hops, which (gasp) are grown in the United States. German drinkers, however, will recognize Vienna malt, which rounds out the texture in the bottle, or better yet, your pint glass.

8. Weihenstephan Festbier

Weihenstephan Festbier

Origin: Freising, Germany
Beer type: Märzen
Price: $10.99 for six-pack 11.2 oz
ABV: 5.8%
Brewed by: Weihenstephan

Located just north of Munich, the Weihenstephan Brewery is no novice — its roots in beer-making go back to the year 768.

Weihenstephan became licensed in 1040 and is recognized as the world’s oldest working brewery. Its Festbier is a true German brew, with malt and Noble hops from the Hallertau region in Bavaria. The result is a full, rich-bodied, mildly hopped seasonal lager that’s crisp and refreshing, with a deep gold appearance and full carbonation. At 5.8 percent ABV and 26 IBUs, Weihenstephaner Festbier is a perfect fit for the style.