Oktoberfest in Wisconsin | 8 Best Festbiers
It’s the most wunderbar time of the year in Wisconsin!
No, not Christmas… It’s Oktoberfest! For those of us who love a malty, amber-colored lager with a hint of noble hops, Oktoberfest basically is Christmas.
Oktoberfest began as a celebration of the royal wedding of the Crown Prince of Bavaria in Munich, Germany. The first festival lasted five days, beginning on October 12, 1810. Over the centuries, it has grown into an annual harvest-time celebration complete with elaborate pop-up beer halls, parades, contests, costumes, and most importantly of all… lots of beer.
The Oktoberfest tradition has transcended Germany to the United States in regions with strong Bavarian heritage. Wisconsin is one such place. Nearly every brewery in the state participates in the celebration by brewing a festbier and hosting a party during the month of September, or into early October.
The majority of Oktoberfest beers are either Märzens or Vienna Lagers. Other styles may pop up here and there, but all of them should be lagers. Lagers use specific strains of yeast, which are fermented at lower temperatures and rest much longer than ales do. In fact, “Märzen” literally means March, the month in which traditional Märzen style beers are brewed in preparation for Oktoberfest.
Amid many festive cans and bottles adorned with blue diamond checkers or blaze orange (must be a Wisconsin thing?), nearly thirty different Wisconsin Oktoberfest brews were cracked open, sampled and pondered to compile this selection of the eight most delightful celebration lagers this largely Germanic state has to offer.
Let’s dive into some of the best Oktoberfest lagers in Wisconsin!
*This is not a definitive list… and it was hard to choose favorites! These are (in my own humble opinion) the best 8 out of the bunch, in no particular order.
Central Waters | Oktoberfest Lager
Crisp, clear and effervescent, this amber lager is refreshing yet satisfying. Pairs well with a giant soft pretzel (but honestly, what doesn’t?).
PetSkull | Hofftoberfest
Toasty aromatics greet the nose and caramel notes dance on the tongue, while a little hop bitterness cuts through the sweetness. Fresh and unfiltered, Hofftoberfest is a well-balanced, crispy and hazy lager worth the hunt.
McFleshman’s | McF Oktoberfest
A lighter, crisper Oktoberfest lager with slight corniness and a bit more hop zing than some of the others on this list. Choose this one if you love an American-style pilsner.
MobCraft | Mobtoberfest
Mobtoberfest pours a clear, brownish amber with a nose of caramel and stonefruit. It’s malty and bready, but not cloyingly sweet. There’s a slight hop bite on the finish, giving it a sharp and crisp mouthfeel.
Third Space | Oktoberfest
Third Space’s Oktoberfest is a slightly hazy amber-colored beer with a heavier malty body. It’s sweet but balanced, and aromas of stone fruit play with the pleasantly bready flavors.
3 Sheeps | Oktoberfest
Smooth, malty and caramelly with a toasty, bready body, 3 Sheeps’ Oktoberfest is delicately sweet and pours with a lasting off-white head. This particular brew has very little hop character, but does take on a bit of dark grain roast bitterness as it warms up.
O’so | O-toberfest
O’so O-toberfest is a very drinkable, balanced beer that is neither too malty nor too sweet, nor too hoppy. This one could be easy to drink all night long.
Titletown Brewing Co. | Bent Tuba
Bent Tuba seems to fit the BJCP style guide description of a Märzen perfectly. Crisp and malty, with a touch of noble hops, Bent Tuba definitely plays my song.
Not from Wisconsin? Check out more Oktoberfest coverage from our great writers at PorchDrinking.com and find your best local festbier!