It’s Oktoberfest—but before you go running off to your nearest beer superstore to pick up any old German beer, listen up. Oktoberfest beer isn’t just beer you drink during Oktoberfest. It’s beer brewed within the city limits of Munich that complies with the Reinheitsgebot, a.k.a. the German Beer Purity Law, which says that the only ingredients that can be used in the production of beer are water, malt and hops. The beers are typically copper-hued, full-bodied and around 5 to 6 percent ABV—it’s a style known as märzen. And there are only six breweries that produce the real Oktoberfest beer served during Oktoberfest in Germany. They all belong to the Club of Munich Brewers, which has gone so far as to trademark the term Oktoberfest Bier.
Luckily, four of these breweries export their beer to the US. Here, the four official Oktoberfest beers to look for:
Hacker-Pschorr Bräu Original Oktoberfest
Every year Oktoberfest is held on land once owned by Josef Pschorr, one of the original owners of the brewery. This amber-colored beer is fairly light bodied and a touch sweeter than some of the other Oktoberfest offerings.
Paulaner Oktoberfest Märzen
Though it’s available year-round, Paulaner’s offering is especially delicious this time of year when its malty, lightly hoppy flavor can be paired with juicy sausages.
Spatenbräu Spaten Oktoberfest Ur-Märzen
Ur-Märzen translates to “original märzen” and this beer absolutely conforms to the classic Oktoberfest style. It has a balanced flavor with some toasty notes from the malt and a hint of grassiness from the hops.
Staatliches Hofbräu Oktoberfestbier
Owned by the Bavarian state government, this brewery has the largest tents at Oktoberfest. The Oktoberfestbier is higher in alcohol than most, coming in at 6.3 percent ABV. It’s spicy and slightly honeyed with a bitter finish.