Oktoberfest is almost synonymous with German beer. It’s impossible to think or discuss the former without the latter and vice versa. If it’s your first time joining the Oktoberfest, it can be tricky to pick the best beers to try. From dark and dry to crisp and light, there’s a variety of German beer to choose from. To help you experience the best sip or swig, let’s talk more about what the Germans have to offer.
We round up the top 20 types of German beer to try during Oktoberfest.
A Little History About Beer
Before you knock back a cold one, here’s a brief history of beer. If you want to know who invented beer, there’s not one culture or even time period to attribute its origin. However, history says that the world’s first fermented drinks most likely began about 12,000 years ago. It’s also said that the first ones to document the brewing process on scrolls were the ancient Egyptians.
Meanwhile, there are claims that before the Egyptians, cultures in Mesopotamia were the first brewers. Nonetheless, it’s pleasing how beer eventually made its way across the Mediterranean to Europe and all over the world.
Germans And Beer
The beer scene in Germany is always strong. In fact, it always ranks high among the best beer countries in the world, plus the popularity of the Oktoberfest. Aside from that, it is home to the oldest brewery in the world — Weihenstephan. The brewery dates back to 1040 and is still operating.
But why is beer important in German culture? It is said that back then, Germans considered beer safe and nutritious. It’s actually believed to be safer than water. The popularity of beer even spiked after the German Purity Law was enacted.
The law states that all beer in Bavaria, Germany must only use hops, barley, and clean water. The law is still in effect to this date. This is in contrast to how beer is made in other countries. For instance, Belgian wit beer uses fruits and spices instead of hops.
Is German Beer The Best Beer In The World?
The answer depends on your preference, but German beer sure makes the competition tough. Germany produces different types of beer, which means there’s always a perfect bottle for everyone. From dark beer, wheat beers, to sweet beer, German beer has you covered.
If you’re aiming for the strongest beer in the world, some German bottles won’t disappoint. Schorschbräu Schorschbock 57 has 57% ABV and is among the highest alcohol content beer options in the world.
Germany is also home to Spaten beer, a classic and premium lager. Another popular offering is the German grapefruit beer. Binding-Brauerei AG in Frankfurt, Germany has introduced to the world this refreshing beer. It’s a delicious mix of wheat beer and grapefruit. With only 2.5% alcohol content, it’s certainly one of the relaxing beer options to try.
Time for some beer tasting! Here are the top 20 German beers you need to try:
Rothaus Pils Tannenzäpfle
If you’re looking for a good old-school beer, Tannenzäpfle or Zäpfle is for you. This German beer is brewed by Badische Staatsbrauerei Rothaus AG in Germany. Zäpfle is a pilsner and is claimed the best beer in the world by many. This cult beer in Germany has been filling bellies since 1956 and has retained its classic style since then. It’s said that this long tradition is part of this German beer’s charm.
With 5.1% ABV (alcohol by volume), Tannenzäpfle is named one of the best light beers by many. It has a strong aroma, however, with hints of citrus. The taste is a mix of fresh grass, sweet grain, and crackers.
Another interesting feature of Zäpfle is its unusual size. This German beer is served in 0.33l glass bottles compared to the usual 0.7l bottles.
Beer type: Pilsner
Brewed by: Badische Staatsbrauerei Rothaus
Don’t let the name intimidate you as this German beer is far from hell. “Hell” in German means “light,” and this beer lives up to this name. Augustiner Hell is a refreshing beer; one you’d want to pick up on a hot day or after a hefty dinner. Made by Munich’s oldest independent brewery, Augustiner-Bräu, this is among Germany’s best beers to offer.
With only 5.2% ABV, this sparkling drink won’t slow you down much. Every sip lets you enjoy delicious notes of fresh and fruity lemon. Aside from the taste, Augustiner is among the best cheap beer choices you can enjoy during Oktoberfest.
Beer style: Helles
Brewed by: Augustiner-Bräu
Klosterbrauerei Andechs Weissbier Hell
Another German beer perfect to try during the warm days of Oktoberfest is Weissbier Hell. Andechser Weissbier Hell is a refreshing beer with a perfect mix of sweet honey and hops. Each sip is a burst of pear, banana, and tangelo with hints of nutmeg and white pepper.
Considered among the best light beers to try, Andechser Weissbier Hell simply renews your thirst for more.
Beer style: Weissbier-Hefeweizen
Brewed by: Klosterbrauerei Andechs
It’s said that beers with dog themes produce excellent Märzen beers, and this includes the label Barktoberfest. This German beer offers a balanced traditional Oktoberfest made with German grains, yeast, and hops. This is a seasonal beer, so you can only grab your hands on one from August 1 to October 15.
Considered among the best beers to sip during Oktoberfest, Barktoberfest is an easy drink. It comes richer and darker compared to other brands in the same style. A bottle of this German beer lets you enjoy toasted malt with a touch of roasted chocolate among other flavors.
Beer type: Märzen
Brewed by: Thirsty Dog Brewing Company
Brewed by Erdinger, the world’s largest wheat beer brewery, many claim the Erdinger Kristall to be the best German beer. Kristall, as they say, is the perfect thirst quencher on a hot day. Slide a lemon wedge and enjoy this refreshing drink straight from the bottle or in a mug.
This German beer is the most sparkling among the wheat beer specialties of Erdinger. A sip of Kristall perfectly balances the malt with the fruity and flowery notes. It’s brewed strictly according to the purity requirement, giving only quality beer in every bottle.
Beer type: Weissbier-Kristallweizen
Brewed by: Erdinger Weissbräu
Schneider Weisse Tap 6 Mein Aventinus
Tap 6 Mein Aventinus is among the types of beer you want to drink by the fireplace. With a strong 8.2% ABV, it’s the perfect match for a heavy meal and sweet desserts.
This German beer has a dark ruby color boasting of rich, caramelized malt flavors. There are strong notes of plums, raisins, and ripe bananas. You can also taste hints of vanilla and peppers. Despite being on the strong side, it still manages to be refreshing. Mein Aventinus is the oldest wheat Doppelbock in Bavaria and is hailed the best beer in the world by many.
Beer type: Bock-Weizenbock
Brewed by: Schneider Weisse G. Schneider & Sohn GmbH
One of the best beers to get a hold of during Oktoberfest is the Spaten Oktoberfest. This German beer is only brewed in March just in time to be served during the festival. If you want to try a bottle, take note that it’s only available from August to October or November.
Spaten Oktoberfest balances the rich flavor of roasted malt and hops. It’s generally a sweet beer but has a surprisingly crisp and earthy finish. There’s a light bitterness but a light toast of caramel soon catches in your palate.
Beer type: Style: Märzen
Brewed by: Spaten-Franziskaner-Bräu (AB InBev)
Ayinger Oktober Fest-Märzen
It’s no surprise than German brewery has perfected the Märzen. Among the many kinds, Ayinger Oktober Fest-Märzen is one of the best German beer choices you must try during Oktoberfest. It is best served with roasted pork, chicken, and sauerkraut.
This German beer has an amber-golden color. It has a light sweetness with balanced floral hops. The alcohol content isn’t overpowering, so you get to enjoy all the flavors in a bottle or two. You’ll also notice a soft dryness from the beer due to long maturation.
Beer type: Märzen / Oktoberfest Bier
Brewed by: Brauerei Aying
Munsterfest is hailed the best German beer by many for good reasons. For one, it’s one of the few that remains true to how German beers must be brewed. Using Bavarian malted barley, traditional yeast, and hops, this beer fully respects the German Purity Law. Aside from that, it’s among the best light beers that offer wonderful flavors in every sip.
Pouring this beer gives you a deep orange color with a malty aroma. The flavor is a blend of toasted sweet malt, caramel, with a hint of spice. Overall, Munsterfest is an easy-drinking beer.
Beer type: Style: Märzen / Oktoberfest Bier
Brewed by: Three Floyds Brewing Company
If you’re looking for the best light beers that are crisp and clean, Kölsch is the right bottle for you. This German beer is rich in fruity notes. There’s also a noticeable noble hop aroma, giving it a slight bitterness. Don’t worry, the bitter taste doesn’t sacrifice the flavors.
Gaffel Koelsch is a specialty beer strictly following the laws of brewing Kolsch. The law states that Kolsch must only be brewed within the city of Cologne.
Style: Kölsch / Kölsch-Style
Brewed by: Privatbrauerei Gaffel Becker & Co.
Okto Festival Ale
Okto Festival Ale is another German beer worth sipping during Oktoberfest. This beer has a distinctive malt flavor with hints of floral and caramel. It’s brewed using locally grown Alchemy and Willamette hops, which gives it a mild bitterness. The beer has a crisp and clean finish.
Okto Festival Ale is only available from August through October, just in time for the festival. Aside from its delicious offering, the brewing company Widmer remains environmentally friendly. The brand even uses wood from fallen trees for their tap handles.
Style: Red Ale / Intl Amber Ale
Brewed by: Widmer Brothers Brewing Company (Craft Brew Alliance – AB InBev)
It may not be as popular as its cousin Hefeweizen, but the Kristallweissbier is worth every sip. The overall impression is a spritz, bright drink to match any light dish. It’s also among the best light beer choices in the summer.
A bottle of this German beer bursts with a mix of fresh citrus and spicy banana notes. Pouring it gives you a pale golden color with good foam. Meanwhile, its sparkling characteristic gives it a tangy flavor.
Style: Weissbier – Kristallweizen
Brewed by: Bayerische Staatsbrauerei Weihenstephan
Hacker-Pschorr Oktoberfest is hailed the best beer in the world by many for its excellent taste and rich history. This German beer is brewed by one of Bavaria’s most notable breweries, dating back to the 15th century. This long-standing history in the brewery has etched its name as one of the finest tasting beers. In fact, Hacker-Pschorr is among the six Munich breweries allowed to serve beer at the original Oktoberfest.
A bottle of Oktoberfest is a fusion of toasted malt flavors, roasted Bavarian barley, spring waters, yeasts, and sweet hops. They say this beer is best served alongside pork chops and sausages.
Style: Märzen / Oktoberfest Bier
Brewed by: Paulaner Brauerei (Paulaner Brauerei Gruppe)
Berliner Kindl Weisse
If you want a classic summer drink, you have to try the Berliner Kindl Weisse. Enjoy its tangy taste due to its soured grains. Claimed as best German beer by many, Berliner-Weisse is served with a shot of sweet woodruff syrup or raspberry.
Berlin-Weisse is an easy-drinking beer overall. It’s one of the best beers you need to try when in Germany or during Oktoberfest.
Style: Berliner Weisse – Flavored
Brewed by: Berliner Kindl Schultheiss Brauerei (Radeberger Gruppe)
Roggen is perfect for those who enjoy rye whiskey. This German beer has spicy, peppery aromas that are evident right after you pour it. It also has notes of caramel and apple sourness. It finishes with a mild fizz. Roggen is a great summer drink.
Beer type: Specialty Grain-Rye/Roggenbier
Brewed by: Apostelbräu Hauzenberg
Aventinus Cuvée Barrique
Consider yourself lucky if you get to try this German beer as it’s pretty hard to find. Aventinus Cuvee Barrique has a sour personality with notes of cinnamon, berries, and dried pears. On your palate, there are also hints of cherries, chocolate, and vanilla.
Aside from the rich taste, the beer’s lovely red wine aroma is perfect for any rich beef dishes.
Beer type: Bock – Weizenbock
Brewed by: Schneider Weisse G. Schneider & Sohn GmbH
Schlenkerla Rauchbier Helles
Smoked beer is among the popular types of beer and Brauerei Heller brews one of the best. Schlenkerla Helles is brewed to perfection in classic copper vessels. Matured for months, this German beer is guaranteed to give you a unique smoky beer experience.
Pouring the beer gives you a dark shade of amber. The sweet wood smoke aroma lures you to take a sip immediately. Meanwhile, the taste is a blend of sweet smoke, caramel, and bitter hops.
Style: Smoked – Rauchbier
Brewed by: Brauerei Heller
Straight from the bottle pours a deep black lager. Despite its intimidating color, Köstritzer Schwarzbier is light and easy to drink. This German beer gives a nice dry roast aroma. The taste, meanwhile, is a perfect balance of mild fruit, caramel, with some coffee notes. They say this is among the best beers to pair with a barbeque or burger.
Köstritzer Schwarzbier is the most popular black beer in Germany.
Style: Schwarzbier / Black Lager
Brewed by: Köstritzer Schwarzbierbrauerei (Bitburger)
Radeberger is on the list of best light beers to match any meal and any season. It’s a classic, clean, and refreshing German Pilsen. The taste, however, has dominant hop flavor, giving this German beer an herbal finish. For beer newbies, this is an excellent choice.
Style: Pilsener / Pils / Pilsner
Brewed by: Radeberger Exportbierbrauerei (Radeberger Gruppe)
For a big event such as the Oktoberfest, brewery Hofbräu prepares a beer just as special as the festival itself. A refreshing and easy-to-drink beer, Hofbräu Oktoberfest is among the best beers in the world you must try. Sipping this German beer gives you a mix of light caramel and malt flavors. Its hoppy aroma is very appealing to the senses and is perfect alongside any Bavarian cuisine.
Style: Märzen / Oktoberfest Bier
Brewed by: Hofbräuhaus München
Oktoberfest is one of the most celebrated events in the world. Millions of visitors from around the globe flock here to have a taste of the best German beer there is. Hopefully, this list gives you an idea of what to try the first or the next time you visit. Whether you like your beer light or strong, tangy or sweet, Oktoberfest has the best beers in the world to choose from. With that in mind, it seems there’s a perfect bottle for everyone. So what are you waiting for? Book your trip to Germany now!