Not sure which beer to serve at your Oktoberfest party? Use this quick reference guide of popular German beer styles to help you choose. If you plan on serving several beer styles, a fun idea can be to offer a beer tasting, and have guests rate which ones they enjoyed the most.
Popular German Beer Styles:
Bock: This beer ranges in color from fairly light (maibock) to very dark (dopplebock), while a traditional bock is somewhere in the middle. Typically amber to brown in color, its a strong, very malty lager style with a 6-7% ABV (alcohol by volume). You'll find a bready, toasty, slightly sweet palette from either the Munich or Vienna malt used to make a bock.
Hefeweizen: This beer hails from the south of Germany, and is a very enjoyable wheat beer. The yeast used to produce hefeweizen creates flavors of banana and clove, paired with a tart edge. Low in hop bitterness and fairly low in alcohol content (around 4%), this beer is great for most any party guest.
Berliner Weisse: This cloudy, sour wheat beer comes in at a relatively low 3% ABV and dates back to the 16th century. This style has a pale, golden color with a refreshingly tart sharpness and virtually no hop bitterness. Syrups are often added to combat the sourness – one popular flavor that's added is raspberry.
Kolsch: This brew is the local beer of city city of Cologne, and is one of the palest German beers you'll find. It has a medium bitterness, a light to medium body, and an average 4-5% ABV. This all makes it a refreshing choice for your Oktoberfest party!
Marzen: This style is also referred to as Oktoberfest, and might be the most popular offering at your party! This beer was historically brewed in the month of March ("Marzen" in German). The typical Marzen has a slightly higher 5-6% ABV and is a beautiful copper color.
Rauchbier: This style has a darker color, but is similar to a Marzen or Oktoberfest variety. Rauchbier has a uniquely smoky quality, which can be an acquired taste! ("Rauch" is German for smoke) It comes in at anywhere from 4-7% ABV, so make sure to check labels before making your selection.
Visit your local craft beer store and stock up for your Oktoberfest party!