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Oktoberfest Beer Guide

Much like the French with wine, the Italians with pasta, and Texas with barbecue, for some reason I have always associated Germany with being the international experts on beer brewing. This state of mind came years before I was legally allowed to participate in a fine stein of beer, but as the years have passed and beer tasting pallet has grown, my simple association has only become more cemented as fact.

So what’s the secret to the recipe? Well, it couldn’t be more simple.

Barley. Hops. Water.

Since 1516, Duke Wilhelm IV of Bavaria issued the Purity Law (German Reinheitsgebot) has required that all German beers be brewed with nothing more than the ingredients of barley, hops, and water.

More than 500 years later, this royal decree remains the law of the land. The constraints it has imposed have led German breweries to perfect the brewing process, leading to generations of consistency and worldwide appreciation.

While you will find the biergartens of Munich full just about any day of the year, there is no greater tasting experience than the 16 days at Oktoberfest.

There are six Munich breweries that are official participants in Oktoberfest:

  • *Löwenbräu
  • *Spaten
  • *Hofbräu
  • *Augustiner
  • *Hacker-Pschorr
  • *Paulaner

Each of these “Big Six” Munich Breweries has a beer tent on the Wiesn, the Oktoberfest festival grounds. In addition, they will typically host parties in their own biergartens, beer halls, and breweries during the festival.

Oktoberfest beer falls into two categories: official Oktoberfest beer, and Oktoberfest-style beer.

Official Oktoberfest beers are those that are brewed within Munich city limits and conform to the Purity Law. Only six Munich breweries are official participants in the festival, and no other breweries are permitted to serve their beers as part of the festival. However official Oktoberfest beer does not need to be made a particular style to qualify, so a very wide range of beers is available under the umbrella of “official Oktoberfest beer.”

Oktoberfest-style beers are those inspired by the history and tradition of Munich’s Oktoberfest. This style can be classified as a Bavarian Märzen. It’s name from the German word for the month of March, the time in which monks would traditionally lay the beginnings of the beer down in caves so that it would ferment over the course of the summer and be ready for drinking come fall. Märzen is an amber lager. It typically has a coppery color, a full-bodied maltiness, and hints of spice and dryness. Oktoberfest-style beers are brewed all over the world, including in the USA.

Read about the Munich Breweries and different Oktoberfest beers here.


Served during Oktoberfest at: Augustiner Festhalle, Fisher-Vroni

Brewery Address: Arnulfstraße 52, 80335 München, Germany

Website: www.augustinerkeller.de

Reservation Page: CLICK HERE

Founded in the old Augustiner Monastery in 1328, Augustiner is the oldest of the Munich breweries still in operation today. A lot has changed over the last 700 years, but the craftsmanship has not. Augustiner is the only Munich brewery left that still stores beer using wooden barrels. This trait makes Augustiner one of the favorites at Oktoberfest as this is the only brewery who will pour you a beer directly from a wooden barrel. If you visit the brewery, you will see the staff proudly roll the next barrel behind the bar when the opportunity calls.


2022 Oktoberfest Guests at the Augustinerkeller

The Augustinerkeller is an outstanding destination located close to the Oktoberfest grounds. Whether you are seating in the massive outdoor biergarten, the lively indoor beer halls, or the incredible brick cellar, it’s a neat experience to behold.

Their Oktoberfest brew has an ABV of 6%.



Served during Oktoberfest at: Schottenhammel, the Marstall, the Ochsenbraterei,

Brewery Address: Marsstraße 46-48, 80335 München, Germany

Website: www.spatenbraeu.de

Reservations: CLICK HERE

Among the oldest Germany breweries still in operation today, Spaten has been brewing beer in the Munich area since 1397. No, that date is not a misprint. Although originally run by monks, over the past two centuries Spaten has been managed by the Sedlmyer family. The letters GS on its crest stand for Gabriel Sedlmyer, the first in the family to take over the company. Franziskaner also belongs to the Spaten brand. Having first introduced their own Märzen in 1841, Spaten knows a thing or two about brewing a delicious Oktoberfest beer. Theirs in particular has an ABV of 5.9%.

The actual brewery has been at its current location since 1851, around the time that Spatan had grown to be the largest brewery in Munich. The growth did not affect the quality, and the closing decades of the 19th Century were full of innovation and recognition. In 1867, they were German brewery to receive a gold medal for its beer at the World Exhibition in Paris in 1867. In 1891, they owned their first international branch in London. Three years later, Spatan became the first Munich brewery to brew a pilsner style light beer.

Visit one of their four Oktoberfest tents to try it: Schottenhammel, the Marstall, the Ochsenbraterei,


Served during Oktoberfest at: Hofbräu-Festzelt

Brewery Address: Platzl 9, 80331 München, Germany

Website: www.hofbraeuhaus.de/

Reservations: CLICK HERE

Hofbrau is perhaps the most recognizable brewery not just in Munich, but internationally as well thanks to franchises all over the world. The Hofbräuhaus is the cradle of Bavarian tavern culture – the origin of tradition, “Gemütlichkeit” and hospitality. 

Founded in 1589 by Wilhelm V, Duke of Bavaria, Hofbräu remains to this day a brewery run by the Bavarian government. The beers they have brewed in their more than 400-year tenure have very much been subject to royal whims. For instance, Maximilian I, son and heir of Wilhelm V, simply didn’t like dark beers. Thus he decided to forbid every other brewery in the area from producing wheat beers so that Hofbräu could monopolize its production and perfect the recipe. Not sure if that would be allowed today.

The Hobrauhaus is a massive 500 year old complex full of tradition. Located just off of the Marianplatz, the Hofbräuhaus is one of Munich`s most popular event locations. Daily music performances are an attraction in itself, united travelers from all over the globe.

The Hofbrau Tent with Bucket List Events, 2019

The Hofbräu Festzelt is among the largest of all the tents at the whole of Oktoberfest. If you are looking for the most booze for your buck, their Oktoberfest beer is the strongest of the bunch with an ABV of 6.3%.



Served at: Löwenbräu-Festhalle and the Schützenfestzelt.

Brewery Address: Nymphenburger Straße 2 Stiglmaierplatz, 80335

Website: www.loewenbraeukeller.com

Reservations: CLICK HERE

First opened in Munich in 1690, Löwenbräu is one of the most iconic names in German beer. Furthermore, they have been participating in the Oktoberfest celebrations since the very beginning. Since the festival started in 1810, Löwenbräu has always been on the menu. Their annual Oktoberfest beer has an ABV of 6.1%.

Löwenbräu means “lion brew” in German, and this brewery features a lion in its logo. If you are looking for the Löwenbräu tent at Oktoberfest, keep your eyes peeled for the gigantic, roaring mechanical lion perched on top of the tent. This is a tribute the famous lion that has protected the entrance the Lowenbraukeller since 1911.

While they did not host during 2022, the Lowenbraukeller has hosted a festive afterparty that is the place to see and be seen.


Oktoberfest Beer Guide

Inside the Hacker Tent

Served during Oktoberfest at: Hacker-Festzelt,

Website: www.hacker-pschorr.com

Hacker–Pschorr Brewery of Munich ranks among Germany’s oldest breweries. It was first mentioned in a document dating back to 1417—exactly 75 years before Columbus’ first voyage to America. It was then called the “Preustatt an der Hagkagasse” (a brewing place in the Hagka lane), located on the site of the current Altes Hackerhaus beer hall at Sendlingerstrasse 14, halfway between the old city hall at Marienplatz and the Sendlinger Tor city gate.

The two names were intertwined since the late 18th century, exchanging hands between the Hackers and the Pschorrs several times. Despite the complex history, it was Jospeh Pschorr who was specially commissioned by the Crown Prince of Bavaria in 1810 to create an original beer for his wedding. It was out of this celebration and this brew that the Oktoberfest tradition was born. The two breweries remained separate entities until they merged in 1972 to form the Hacker–Pschorr Brewery, and the hyphenated brewery name appeared in beer labels for the first time 3 years later.

Oktoberfest Beer Guide

Interestingly, Hacker–Pschorr, is now a brand without a brewery, because its brewery was closed in 1998, and all its labels are now brewed by Paulaner. There are more than a dozen beer styles with the Hacker–Pschorr label on the market, including a helles, a dunkel, a pils, four weissbiers, an Oktoberfest märzen, and an unfiltered, yeasty doppelbock.

Hacker-Pschorr beers can be recognized by theirs classic flip-top bottles. With an ABV of 5.8%, their Oktoberfest beer is the lightest of the bunch. You can taste it at the Hacker-Zelt and the Pschorr-Bräurosl.


Oktoberfest Beer Guide

Served at: Paulaner Festzelt, Armbrustschützenzelt, the Käferzelt

Brewery Address: Mälzereistraße 31, 81249 München, Germany

Website: www.paulaner.com

Reservations: CLICK HERE

Though technically the youngest of the Munich breweries represented at Oktoberfest, dating back to 1634, Paulaner is hardly a new-comer. Its beers are brewed in the tradition of the Paulaner Monks, whose creative loophole for fasting during lent is responsible for tradition of Starkbier, or strong beer.

Oktoberfest Beer Guide

Guests at the Paulaner Tent, 2018

The production of Paulaner Monks was in place until 1806 when the brewery was taken over by Xaver Zacherl. Within a few years, steins of Paulaner were being served at Oktoberfest, much to the delight of all of those in attendance. In 2010, during the 200th Oktoberfest, the Paulaner Tent was added to the large tent offerings.

Paulaner’s Oktoberfest beer has an ABV of 6%.




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