Produced by the most famous of Munich’s six breweries, Hofbrau is a staple at Oktoberfest. With a moderate hop flavor that is sharp but not too bitter, this beer has an agreeable taste. Quaff this in a one-liter stein at Wirtshaus, where they pull out all the stops in honor of Oktoberfest. This includes with Bavarian flags and live German folk tunes every Friday and Saturday evening.
The Paulaner Oktoberfest is a radically different take on the Märzen style. Sporting an amber color and smelling faintly of honey, this malt-dominated beer has a rich bready taste that is slightly sweet with a hint of spice. Lacking any pronounced bitterness, this beer has a delightful earthy finish. Angelenos can also find the Paulaner at Wirtshaus. Pair it with the Hofbrau to magnetize the contrast. For sustenance, order a pretzel with obatzda (Bavarian cream cheese) or a sausage platter. Yum.
Up to this point, the Märzens have presented us with a traditional picture of German beers: some are maltier, others are hoppier but none get too extreme in taste. Prepare for Bayreuther Landbier. This dunkel, or ‘dark’ lager, (named for its roasted, partially burnt malts) features an aggressive bitterness on par with a dry stout or an IPA. The average Joe might not take to this beer, but craft beer aficionados will rejoice. Drink it at Wirtshaus.
Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier
Indigenous to the north Bavarian town of Bamberg, Rauchbier, or ‘smoke beer,’ has a strong, smoky odor that comes from the roasting of its malt on beachwood logs. From an olfactory perspective, the Schlenkerla variant has hints of soy sauce and smoked gouda. The flavor opens with a dominant barley malt flavor and finishes with a smoky aftertaste. This beer is a chuggable tribute to German brewing creativity.
Schneider und Brooklyner Hopfenweisse
For a German brewery, Georg Schneider and Son is somewhat of a black sheep — exclusively producing ‘weizens,’ sweet-ish ales with a large proportion of Bavarian wheat malt. This beer is particularly renegade — a double-hopped weissbock (strong, heavy wheat ale) jointly devised by Schneider and the American craft brewer, Brooklyn Brewery. The result is a beer that is delightfully fruity with an apple-banana flavor and a sharp kick.
Head to the retail section of Sunset Beer Company and enjoy your purchase at the adjacent bar, where staff will uncork your beer for a modest fee (the fee is waived from 4-7pm, Monday through Thursday). With indie music playing in the background and board games stacked on the shelves, the bar section is an Echo Park version of Gemutlichkeit.
The oldest brewery in the world produces this pleasurable take on a Hefeweizen, another variety of wheat ale. Tones of banana and clove and the flavor of malt dominate the hops, making for a beer that goes down smoothly with a moderate nutty aftertaste. This is perfect for sitting back and relaxing on a hot (LA) October afternoon. Drink this at Steingarten LA, the Westside beer garden with an impressive array of craft beers. The food is a bit pricey, so thrifty imbibers are encouraged to grab a chili burger and fries beforehand from Marty’s across the street.