Though August is still a faint memory, most brew retailers started lining up their Oktoberfest offerings in the middle of last month to help you stock up in advance of the real Oktoberfest. If you can’t make it to Munich by September 17, load up on these brews as picked by our beer scribes. Just make sure to grill enough brats to soak up the alcohol content.
Oktoberfest by Alamo Beer Co.
San Antonio, Texas, ABV: 5.8 percent ItBUs: 22
Alamo can annually be counted on to supply something good in celebration of the coming of fall. This year’s Oktoberfest is described as a traditional “Bavarian festbeer.” It’s dark, it’s malty and it’s smooth. Like pretty much everything that Alamo Beer puts out, especially their lagers, this is a typical “sessional” beer. At 5.8 percent ABV and 22 IBUs, you can drink them (responsibly) 'til the oompah bands stop playing. The balance that this beer is really why I personally love it. You can drink ‘em and imagine the Alps are behind you while you’re sporting your best pair of lederhosen. –Eric Moreno
Oktoberfest by Real Ale Brewing Co.
Blanco, Texas, ABV: 5.7 percent, IBUs: 22
After tasting it, you would never guess that the Oktoberfest is the Blanco brewery’s first attempt at a lager. On shelves at Central Market and other beer retailers, the light copper beer stands out as one of the most pared down, minimalist fall offerings available. No apothecary’s delight of savory spices — just a slight malty sweetness in a medium bodied beer. Elegant in its simplicity, Real Ale has found a winner in this seasonal offering. – Mark Stenberg
Oktoberfest by Shiner Bock
Shiner, Texas, ABV: 5.8 percent, IBUs: 18
The products put out by the fine folks at Spoetzl Brewery in Shiner, Texas (aka the Cleanest Little Town in Texas) are always my preferred beverage of choice. Each fall, I make sure I find some of these as they are delicious. This is a more copper-looking color than the darker Bock beer that is the company’s staple; it is also a bit smoother to drink. As an easy drinking lager, it’s got a 5.8 percent ABV and is very “clean.” The first Märzen style beer I ever had was a Shiner Bock Oktoberfest and I have been hooked ever since. - EM
Oktoberfiesta by Freetail Brewing Co.
San Antonio, Texas, ABV: 5.8 percent, IBUs: 27
Oktoberfest beers are here! Out of the many offerings already available of this popular fall style, I look forward to my first pint of ‘Oktoberfiesta’ from San Antonio based Freetail Brewing Co. This hoppier take on the Märzen/Oktoberfest style has a malt backbone that just screams German lager. The twist on this one though is the non-traditional use of a Belgian yeast strain, which serves to highlight European hops and malt, giving it a smooth fruity character. Perfect for any season, Oktoberfiesta really shines in the fall, as we come down off the summer's much lighter offerings. – Jeremy Banas
And because you’re already aching to try pumpkin beers, here’s a bonus pick:
Pumpkin Down by Ballast Point
San Diego, California, ABV: 5.8 percent, IBUs: 22
For someone looking for a little autumnal flavor without a deluge of sucrose, the Pumpkin Down should be your first choice. Breathe deeply enough and the nostalgia of fall will come rushing in, like your nose is hovering over a fresh pumpkin pie or a jar of cloves. Since the beer is Scottish Ale, it holds its own against the toffee and molasses notes. The result is a spicy, toasted taste with just a hint of sweetness, a perfect beer for the season. - MS