With the exception, perhaps, of tart Berlinnerweisse, no German beers are terribly trendy right now. “It’s sort of like Bordeaux—it might be delicious, but it’s currently out of fashion,” says Garrett Oliver of Brooklyn Brewery, author of The Brewmaster’s Table. “People are looking for things that seem more exciting and new to them. Drinking Oktoberfest beers is like going back and listening to Tony Bennett … and realizing that maybe you’d forgotten how awesome he is.”
I’m with Garrett—at least about the beer. (Sorry, Tony.) I love going back to Oktoberfest brews as summer fades into crisper weather. Also called märzenbier—from the days it was brewed in March before the summertime ban, meant to avoid spoilage in hot weather, kicked in—these copper-colored beers have a soft richness and toffee-like, almost nutty malt flavor. It’s hard to find a meal that doesn’t taste good with them: My go-tos are pork chops, brats, and slow-simmered chili. Oktoberfest beers, says Jeff Alworth, author of The Beer Bible, “are terrific dance partners with food.” His favorite pairing: “They’re a classic with pizza, harmonizing bready malts with bready crust, but cutting through the richness of cheese and meat.”
Whatever you’re eating, these six American-brewed märzens are just the thing to warm you on a cool afternoon.