Earn a New "Celebrate Oktoberfest" Badge with These 20 Best Märzens/Festbiers of 2022
This past Saturday, Sept. 17th, 2022, marked the official start of the 187th Oktoberfest celebration. It's the first time since the global pandemic that the annual festival that attracts millions of visitors to Munich, Germany, to imbibe a very specific style of beer, returns in person.
And you can bet that there are toasts, aka prosts, and beer steins clinking aplenty.
But just because you might not be able to make it across the pond this year doesn't mean that you can't find a way to celebrate.
For our part, we wanted to recognize the holiday by releasing a new badge.
To earn the "Celebrate Oktoberfest (2022)" badge simply check-in any (1) beer with the style of märzen or festbier between September 17th until October 3.
What is a märzen or festbier? And what is the difference between the two styles you ask?
Well, that's a great question!
What Is the Difference between Märzens, Festbiers, and Even Oktoberfests?
The answer is a little complicated. In Germany, Oktoberfest means beers that are brewed specifically for the Oktoberfest event in Munich.
According to European Union regulations, only beers brewed by the big six Munich breweries can use the label "Oktoberfest" (much like real champagne can only technically come from the Champagne region of France). All other breweries must call their seasonal lagers Oktoberfest-style beer. But that hasn't stopped American brewers from using terms like Oktoberfest, märzen, and festbier pretty much interchangeably. To further confuse things, American breweries will often sell beers with punny variations such as Oaktoberfest, Octoberfest, etc.
Historically, the beers served at Oktoberfest can only come from the large breweries inside Munich's city limits including Augustinerbräu Münche (Augustiner), Hacker-Pschorr, Hofbräu, Löwenbräu, Paulaner, and Spaten-Franziskaner-Bräu (Spaten).
"Paulaner brewery is a real traditional Munich brewery and has always played a big part in the history of the city's culture," says Christian Dahncke, head brewmaster at Paulaner. "[So Oktoberfest] is an event dear to Paulaner's heart."
Since 1818, Paulaner has brewed its Oktoberfest Bier, but it actually didn't gain popularity at the annual celebration until much later.
Actually, during the first sixty or so years the darker Bavarian dunkel dominated. But by 1872 Spaten brewery introduced the more amber-hued märzen, which became the official beer of the fest. And in the mid 1960s Paulaner's golden-colored Oktoberfest Bier, considered a festbier, began to take over.
Today, Paulaner's Oktoberest Bier is the most-served beer at Oktoberfest in Munich. Although still slightly malty, these lighter-bodied festbiers are super drinkable and perfect for the two-week-long celebration.
But in the States, Oktoberfest is often used as a catchall encompassing märzens and festbiers. The märzens here in America typically feature Munich and Caramel malts for beers that tend to be redder, maltier, and slightly sweeter.
Basically, the Oktoberfest-style beers brewed in America are actually nothing like those made for the real Oktoberfest in Germany. Instead, they align more closely with the original styles served in the 1870s.
Here's how it breaks down:
Oktoberfest (Oktoberfestbier) – Any beer formally brewed by one of the six big Munich brewers and served on the Oktoberfest grounds. Over the years these beers have evolved from dunkels to märzens to festbiers. Today, they're light gold in color and easy bodied.
Märzen – German amber lagers typically anywhere from chestnut to russet in color. Smooth, toasty, bready, slightly spiced with a bit of a Noble hop bite. Märzens hit around 5-6% ABV with a dry finish. First brewed by Spaten in Germany, in America this is the most common style of what we've come to call Oktoberfest or Oktoberfest-style beers.
Festbier – A strong golden German lager similar to a helles, just maltier. The floralness and spiciness of Noble hops are more prevalent in this style. And they're slightly meatier at 6-6.5% ABV. First pioneered by Paulaner, today in Germany festbiers are THE official beer of Oktoberfest.
Oktoberfest-style – Normally falling under the style of märzen, these beers are brewed outside the city limits of Munich. Again, if you buy an Oktoberfest-style beer in America, it will most likely be an amber märzen. Technically only beers brewed by one of the six original breweries in Munich can officially use the term Oktoberfest (Oktoberfestbier).
With all this in mind, whether you're camping out with a classic Hacker-Pschorr Oktoberfest Amber Märzen from the original Munich brewery or enjoying a modern 3 Floyds Brewing Company Munsterfest from the premier Midwestern brewery, we've found the best märzens and festbiers to help you ring in the season and earn that "Celebrate Oktoberfest (2022)" badge!
Here are Untappd's 20 Top-Rated Märzens/Festbiers of 2022
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