If you’re looking for the real Oktoberfest experience, only six breweries – Paulaner, Hofbrau, Spatenbrau, Lowenbrau, Hacker Pschorr, and Augustiner – are permitted to brew authentic Oktoberfest beer.
Unfortunately, these may be difficult to locate, and there are many excellent Americanized alternatives including Sam Adams’ more mainstream option.
Over the years, the range of beers that carry the Oktoberfest moniker has grown and changed. Nowadays, most Oktoberfest beers are lagers. They are more golden than Helles, the traditional German pale lager, but have a stronger ABV.
Many American breweries produce Oktoberfest beers in the style of Märzen. Still, the flavor profile differs. (I don’t mean to suggest that the result is bad, just different.)
The most common malts are pilsner or light Munich, composing at least 80% of the base. Classic recipes also include Bavarian lager yeast and noble hops.
Among the strongest Oktoberfest beers is the Oktoberfest beer by Hofbräu, at 6.3% ABV. The lowest is from Hacker Pschorr, at 5.8% ABV.
Samuel Adams Oktoberfest is among the most popular, given its resemblance to an original Märzen. It has a 5.3% ABV and a caramel-biscuit aroma.