This weekend kick-starts the 16-day beer guzzling, sausage-stuffing event known as Oktoberfest. (Whoohoo! I've got my stein ready!) And, while yes, it's a festival, it's also a style of beer, which means you don't have to go to a crowded beer garden to partake in the celebration.
Here's a little history lesson for you: All of those seasonal Oktoberfest beers that you see popping up at your local pub this time of year aren't just trying to commercialize the 200-year-old German festival. The "marzen style" of Oktoberfest beers was originally brewed in March because that was the last feasible time to brew before the summer heat set in during the 1800s, before refrigeration (marzen means March in German). During the summer, they'd be put in caves to ferment and make their debut during the fall harvest, becoming a staple beer at Oktoberfest.
Learn something new every day, huh? Now on to the fun part: the drinking. I know Oktoberfest festivals can be quite the drunken show -- fat guys stuffing their faces with huge sausages and washing it down with pint-sized amber-colored brews (actually, minus the fat guys, that doesn't sound too shabby), but you don't have to go to an official celebration to show your Oktoberfest spirit. Just switch your usual Bud Light for one of these five seasonal Oktoberfest beers:
Flavor: Full-bodied and malty, with a bready and light brisk hop bitterness.
Alcohol Content: 5.5%
Flavor: The flavor is focused on a light caramel malt note, lending body without too much sweetness.
Alcohol Content: 5.5%
Flavor: More dry than the other Oktoberfest beers, this is a good one to try if, say, your favorite brew is Bud Light.
Alcohol Content: 5.1%
Flavor: This beer is medium-bodied and has great malt sweetness. The malt flavor appears in front as Oktoberfest finishes with a delicate hop finish. The carbonation is slight and this beer has a smooth texture.
Alcohol Content: 6.5%
Flying Dog's Dogtoberfest:
Flavor: Thick roasted bittersweet malts. There are hints of caramel and nut flavors. This beer makes you feel toasty inside.
Alcohol Content: 5.3%
Are you celebrating Oktoberfest? What's your favorite Oktoberfest beer?