German Oktoberfests which ones and where to find them

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by surfcaster, Jul 24, 2016.

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  1. surfcaster

    surfcaster Zealot (526) Apr 20, 2013 North Carolina
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    SN has released theirs and coming up on perhaps my favorite seasonal release. Folks like @hopfenunmaltz @TongoRad, @AlcahueteJ and @herrburgess seem to lead the way for me in this category regarding insight to this style.

    I would really like to get my hands on some more of the "real thing" this fall in addition to the some local versions. What are the ones to to get? Are they widely distributed??

    So far Ayinger Marzen is the only one if have asked to get. 10 500cls ordered.
     
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  2. PapaGoose03

    PapaGoose03 Poo-Bah (3,728) May 30, 2005 Michigan
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  3. nc41

    nc41 Poo-Bah (2,771) Sep 25, 2008 North Carolina
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    Mecktoberfest fresh is as good as anything out there IMO. Especially the fresh part over 6 month old Fest beer right now , that's a few months old right now.
     
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  4. keithmurray

    keithmurray Poo-Bah (1,804) Oct 7, 2009 Connecticut
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    Hacker Pschorr
    Hofbrau
    Spaten (if you can find it on draft - buy the green bottles at your own risk)
     
  5. Urk1127

    Urk1127 Poo-Bah (2,085) Jul 2, 2014 Pennsylvania
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    Paulaner Marzen is my favorite

    Paulaner Oktoberfest Weisn if i can find it, ive only had it once, id drink all the time. So memorable of how clean it was.

    As for domestic...

    DuClaw Mad Bishop
    Left Hand Oktoberfest

    Those are my current favorite

    I can not WAIT for this season. I only tried 9 different ones last year. Trying to double that.
     
  6. utopiajane

    utopiajane Initiate (0) Jun 11, 2013 New York

    Hard to find around here. Usually spaten is in the grocery. I am looking forward to any I can find. Hofbrau original was at the grocery briefly and I had their oktoberfest.last year. Wegmans carries ayinger but not the oktoberfest and I ask for hacker pschorr each year at the shop, still no.
     
  7. surfcaster

    surfcaster Zealot (526) Apr 20, 2013 North Carolina
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    Great list but rarely see any of them. Do many of them make it over here? I guess I could print it out, take it into the bottle shop and ask which ones to get. I guess my purpose is to ask--which two or three would your ask for it someone is going to have to special order it. Fortunately my local place routinely gets the Ayinger.
     
  8. scottakelly

    scottakelly Zealot (525) May 9, 2007 Ohio

    All of the major German Oktoberfests that get wide distribution here are good. Plus the style variation is enough that it's hard to compare some head to head. My advice would be to try any you can find. My favorites last year were Ayinger and Hacker Pschorr, but the degree of separation in terms of enjoyment is small.
     
  9. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (5,826) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
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    One of the German brewed Oktoberfest beers that I buy every year is Weihenstephaner Oktoberfestbier (a Pale Oktoberfest beer).

    I also like Ayinger but the three bottles I bought last year tasted a bit old to me; I was bummed.:slight_frown:

    To re-enforce what Dale (@nc41) posted of “over 6 month old Fest beer right now, that's a few months old right now.” Why do the German breweries bottle these beers so early in the year (e.g., April 2016)? Do the logistics of German beer production and shipping require this? Makes no sense to me.:confused:

    Cheers!
     
  10. TongoRad

    TongoRad Poo-Bah (3,001) Jun 3, 2004 New Jersey
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    Oh, definitely.

    Here's a list of all of the major ones that should be pretty easy to find-
    Spaten (amber)
    Paulaner (amber and pale)
    Hofbrau (pale)
    Hacker-Pschorr (amber)
    Ayinger (amber)
    Weihenstaphaner (pale)

    Of those I tend to load up the most on Hofbrau and Spaten as my favorite examples of their respective types, but Ayinger is also heavily in the mix (and pretty unique, as well). The first 4 are from Munich; there are 2 more breweries in the old 'Big 6' the we don't really see, unfortunately, Lowenbrau and Augustiner.
     
  11. Jacobier10

    Jacobier10 Poo-Bah (2,563) Feb 23, 2004 New Jersey
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    It's my understanding that some of the German breweries (i.e. Paulaner) brew their Oktoberfest Märzen year round for export to the US because their sales are good. So a beer that was bottled in April 2016 may be meant for consumption now, not later in the year.

    To answer the original question, Ayinger, Hacker Pschorr, and Paulaner Weisn are my personal favorites.
     
    #11 Jacobier10, Jul 24, 2016
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2016
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  12. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (5,826) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
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    The Weihenstephaner Oktoberfestbier beers I purchased last year were bottled in April 2015. That beer is not a year round beer; it is a seasonal.

    I have zero idea when my Ayinger Oktoberfest beers were brewed since Ayinger refuses to bottle date.

    Cheers!
     
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  13. dennis3951

    dennis3951 Initiate (0) Mar 6, 2008 New Jersey

    No particular brand, just try any German Oktoberfest you see on tap.
     
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  14. Jacobier10

    Jacobier10 Poo-Bah (2,563) Feb 23, 2004 New Jersey
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    Yep, that's early! I don't know the reasoning behind this either.
     
  15. PapaGoose03

    PapaGoose03 Poo-Bah (3,728) May 30, 2005 Michigan
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    You shouldn't have to search hard to find many of these beers. Not every one is going to be distributed to North Carolina, but a large-volume beer store should be getting them in soon, if not already. As with many of the 'best of' lists, the highly-ranked ones typically can be more difficult to find due to demand, but work your way down the list and you'll likely see some of them.
     
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  16. edward_boumil

    edward_boumil Initiate (0) Jun 28, 2015 New York

    In terms of wide distribution, both Sam Adams and Yuengling make exceptional Marzens that absolutely do justice to the style.

    In terms of Germans specifically, Weihenstephaner's Pale and Paulaner's pale are both great, and Ayinger's is my favorite. I tend to shy away from most domestic ones as I often find they are overhopped, and quite frankly the big guys SA and Yeungling do the best job preserving the style, at least in my opinion. Also there are specific malt qualities I look for in the style that those 2 do best.
     
  17. Squire

    Squire Poo-Bah (2,803) Jul 16, 2015 Mississippi
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    I wish we had more available here. Lacking much in the way of choice I buy the ones that are stocked.
     
  18. nc41

    nc41 Poo-Bah (2,771) Sep 25, 2008 North Carolina
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    Our choices are very limited. I like Ayinger, but Mectoberfest a week old IMO is a better beer, as is SN Oktoberfest. Must be a logistics thing, but time doesn't do this style any favors, although with the nice malt backbone the star and not really the hops still very good as 6 months.
     
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  19. Amateurbrewmaster

    Amateurbrewmaster Initiate (0) Feb 5, 2016 New York

    Honestly the best Oktoborfest I've ever had was the one I brewed out of a kit last year. Adventures In Homebrewing's Oktoberfest recipe kit. Absolutely delicious. Nice malt bill and a hop spiciness that is so great. If you brew at the right time, it goes well in Oktober as well as Thanksgiving
     
  20. Jaycase

    Jaycase Poo-Bah (1,917) Jan 13, 2007 Illinois
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    Thanks for the amber vs pale indicator. Not a fan of amber versions but after having the outstanding SN iteration last year I'm going to explore further into the pale variety. Cheers.
     
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  21. bbtkd

    bbtkd Poo-Bah (14,963) Sep 20, 2015 South Dakota
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    When I first saw this thread, I thought you were asking about Oktoberfests - as in events, not beers!
     
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  22. LuskusDelph

    LuskusDelph Initiate (0) May 1, 2008 New Jersey

    This. Absolutely.
    Any of the imports (particularly on draft) are exponentially better than any of the American brewed ones. Not that the domestic ones are necessarily bad...they're just usually not as good. SN's last year was a gem, though.

    The one bottled O-Fest beer I really miss is the Löwenbrau Märzen that used to be imported to the USA in the early '70s. Great stuff, it was.
     
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  23. nc41

    nc41 Poo-Bah (2,771) Sep 25, 2008 North Carolina
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    I'd assume that most of the big German breweries who export are probably on the same brewing and bottling schedule to meet US demands. 6 month old beer is not fresh, as you mentioned it's a seasonal, for a seasonal beers it's definately not fresh. We don't get Mecktoberfest here anymore because on NCs archaic cap on small breweries to self distribute. We also don't get a lot of the bigger breweries here for whatever reason. Ayinger and HP for sure, Ayinger is usually the first to appear. SN Oktoberfest was great last year, I like the collaboration efforts, maybe the best I had last year.
     
  24. TongoRad

    TongoRad Poo-Bah (3,001) Jun 3, 2004 New Jersey
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    Generally the less-than-fresh better beer trumps the fresh inferior version. With a handful of exceptions, this is particularly true with the Oktoberfest style, where the American versions are usually missing the depth of malt character elemental to it.
     
  25. LuskusDelph

    LuskusDelph Initiate (0) May 1, 2008 New Jersey

    Exactly. Also, most American takes on the 'style' use caramel/crystal malts in the grist, which contribute malt character of a different kind compared to traditional German brews
    .
    With regard to the 'freshness' issues...As bizarre as this is going to sound (and I've been efficiently flamed in other forums for even suggesting this) in some cases, 'freshness' can be overrated. A fact that is all too often overlooked nowadays is that with some traditional 'styles' (like Märzen, Barleywine, Porter/Stout, Stock Ale, and others), time is a friend, not the enemy. Some 'styles' should be several months old (or older) even before they are packaged for sale and while such brews may certainly deteriorate in bottle over time like any beer or ale, they do tend to hold up quite a bit longer when long aged prior to packaging.
    Just my own observations (shared also by some pro brewer friends)...and opinions will certainly vary (but that's after all what makes the world go 'round).
     
  26. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (5,826) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
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    It is not my intention to "flame" here but unless the beer is a style which is intended to be cellared (e.g., Barleywine, Quad, etc.) age is not a benefit for beer. The fundamental aspect here is oxidation (staling). Oxygen and oxidation is the enemy of beer. For a beer style like an Oktoberfest once the lagering process is complete and the beer is packaged (i.e., bottled) that beer is best consumed fresh. I have homebrewed many Oktoberfest beers and all of those batches were best consumed fresher. And I used Munich malt to obtain depth of malt flavors (including melanoidans) in those beers vs. caramel malts.

    Cheers!
     
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  27. LuskusDelph

    LuskusDelph Initiate (0) May 1, 2008 New Jersey

    It's all good. Commercially, there's plenty of choice and as homebrewers, we certainly have a choice of how to handle aging (or bypass it altogether). I like what happens with the aging process for most beers and the length of aging depends on the type of beer anyway. I suppose I'm just too old school/traditional in a lot of ways. A lot of the flavors touted in some beers these days as 'fresh' are (to my palate anyway) 'green' or immature flavors. I suppose that's why I more like the imported commercial O-Fest beers over domestic ones, and why I even bulk age my homebrewed version (95% Munich malt) for a minimum of 5 months.
    It's just personal taste. It's also one of the reasons that for several decades now, more than 90% of the beer/ale I consume is homebrewed.
     
    #27 LuskusDelph, Jul 25, 2016
    Last edited: Jul 25, 2016
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  28. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (5,826) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
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    But you do realize that there is a difference between lagering and aging in the bottle, right? Very different processes are going on here.

    If you want to "bulk age" (lager) for a "minimum of 5 months" I fully support that process. If you propose to age your bottles of Oktoberfest beer (commercially brewed or homebrewed) for 5 months before consuming the beer I will frankly and respectfully opine that you are nuts here.

    Cheers!
     
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  29. steveh

    steveh Poo-Bah (3,686) Oct 8, 2003 Illinois
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    While I understand your palate preferences, to me the import Oktos just have better malt flavor -- or at least: better to what I want/expect in an Okto. I've only had that character in a few U.S.-brewed Okto/Märzens -- 2 of which were well-brewed brewpub beers.
     
    #29 steveh, Jul 25, 2016
    Last edited: Jul 25, 2016
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  30. LuskusDelph

    LuskusDelph Initiate (0) May 1, 2008 New Jersey

    LOL.
    I'm probably nuts for plenty of other reasons (I've been in show-biz for all of my adult life. LOL)... but yes...all of the traditional aging I do for my Festbiers, Porters, Stouts, Barleywine/Burtons, IPAs, etc., is in bulk (some of it cold aged, most at 58-60°F cellar temps). Over the last 45 years I've amassed a pretty good collection of cornies, carboys, etc in a variety of sizes and I do brew fairly often, so time/supply is rarely an issue (unless I've been on the road or on location for any unusual length of time). Thus I always somehow manage to have well aged (to my liking) brews on hand. :grinning:
    When work is plentiful and I run short of stock because of schedules, at least nowadays there are enough really good commercial choices more readily available to fill the gap.
    Even 45 years ago was a great time to be a beer lover (if you knew where to look), but these days, it's downright phenomenal (though you do still need to be pretty selective).
     
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  31. surfcaster

    surfcaster Zealot (526) Apr 20, 2013 North Carolina
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    Agreed--Mecktoberfest is my favorite of theirs by far and in Charlotte can easily get it super fresh. Looking to assemble a group of true Germans and best American representation for a college football weekend and BBQ--if this NC summer ever ends.

    And let me know if you want a couple bombers your way. Usually out in mid late Aug
     
  32. WesMantooth

    WesMantooth Poo-Bah (3,197) Jan 8, 2014 Ohio
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    Ayinger for me. I always like the Hofbrau too, though not many people seem to. Then again, I have 2 Hofbrauhaus locations within 2 hours of me. For what its worth, my favorite last year was Sierra Nevada's
     
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  33. PapaGoose03

    PapaGoose03 Poo-Bah (3,728) May 30, 2005 Michigan
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    FWIW, Bell's has announced that their Octoberfest will be back in distro this year (12 pack bottles) for the first time in 5 years.
     
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  34. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (5,826) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
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  35. DogbiteWilliams

    DogbiteWilliams Initiate (76) Mar 28, 2015 California

    Ayinger Oktoberfest-Marzen is my favorite beer and Trader Joe's carries it. I don't know when it will arrive this year.
     
  36. Domingo

    Domingo Poo-Bah (2,819) Apr 23, 2005 Colorado
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    The best one I've had in a long time is Dry Dock's Docktoberfest. They canned a ton of it this year, so it should be readily available for anyone in CO. At least it will be very soon when it's released.
    Left Hand's is usually good, although sometimes it's excessively sweet. Last year's certainly was. All of the Munich (and Munich-area) ones are good as long as you aren't buying one from last year.
     
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  37. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (5,826) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
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    Yup.:slight_frown:

    I used to enjoy drinking Left Hand Oktoberfest but the variability of their releases and the propensity for the beer being too sweet for my palate has made this beer 'unworthy' for me.

    Cheers!
     
  38. matcris

    matcris Meyvn (1,171) Sep 17, 2015 Arizona

    I loved the SN last year, hope this year is in the ball park. I tip a few of Summit's Marzens. Cheap, decent, and 7%.
     
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  39. Lingenbrau

    Lingenbrau Initiate (0) Apr 9, 2011 Oregon

    My kind of thread! Having said that...

    Here's the "OF Course!" section:
    Ayinger, Paulaner, Hofbrau, Spaten

    Some of my other favorites:
    Warsteiner, Weltenburger-Kloster, Hacker-Pschorr, Aktienbrauerie, Kulmbacher Festbier, Sierra Nevada (killed it two years in a row!)

    Others that I enjoy and seem a bit overlooked:
    Karl Strauss O'Fest, Firestone Walker Oaktoberfest

    Honestly, I love 'em all! Prost, and happy hunting!
     
  40. Lingenbrau

    Lingenbrau Initiate (0) Apr 9, 2011 Oregon

    Guess I forgot the "Where to get them" part.:flushed: A lot of these can be found at Total Wine or BevMo!, but I am lucky enough to have a couple German deli's and a bar/bottleshop that stock some, and a Bier Hall close by to enjoy on tap. Cheers!
     
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