There are six Oktoberfest breweries. Six and only six. And they are all Bavarian.
If some Beck's representatives showed up one day and asked to set up a little stall at the entrance, they'd be condemned according to ancient law without trial and taken to a Munich prison, where they'd have to share a cell with a frisky wild Bavarian boar that had been captured in the forest “within the last month.”
Okay, that was all made up, but Bavaria's attitude to beer has always been ruthlessly litigious.
The famous Reinheitsgebot (purity law) was introduced in 1516, and is still heralded as the world's first consumer protection law.
It was followed by the Brauordnung of 1539, which ruled that you could only brew beer between September and April. But that clearly didn’t last as long as the purity law.
These six breweries have mischief on their minds when September comes around, for they infuse their Oktoberfest brews with more alcohol than their regular output.
On top of this, connoisseurs say that Oktoberfest beer is brewed lighter, sweeter, and less carbonated, to make it slide down all those throats with greater ease.
To ensure that after Oktoberfest the transition back to your regular beer runs smoothly, the special festive brews are made available in supermarkets and in many of Munich's regular bars and restaurants.
Four of the six breweries have their own major tent at the Oktoberfest, while the others are heavily represented everywhere else. According the aforementioned connoisseurs, there are apparently differences between them, so here they are:
Augustiner-Bräu-Oktoberfestbier: 6 percent alcohol. Available in – Augustiner-Festhalle and Fischer-Vroni. The only Oktoberfest beer that still comes from wooden kegs. Everyone loves this one – except the people that prefer the others, of course.
Löwenbräu-Oktoberfestbier: 6.1 percent alcohol. Available in – Löwenbräu Festzelt, Schützenfestzelt. This one is bottom-fermented, light, sweet, and with a spicy aroma.
Hofbräu-Oktoberfestbier: 6.3 percent alcohol. Available in – Hofbräuzelt. According to the Hofbräu people, this one has a “slightly bitter taste” best enjoyed in combination with a big pile of grilled meat and dumplings.
Paulaner-Oktoberfestbier: 6 percent alcohol. Available in – Winzerer Fähndl, Käfers Wiesnschänke, Armbrustschützenzelt, Nymphenburg Wein- und Sektzelt. One reviewer said this brew was “malty, with good quilting, and a spicy finish.”
Spaten-Oktoberfestbier: 5.9 percent alcohol. Available in – Schottenhamel, Spatenbräu Festhalle and Ochsenbraterei. This one is meant to be “malty, light, sweet, full-bodied, and with a light hops-bitterness.”
Hacker-Pschorr-Oktoberfest-Märzen: 5.8 percent alcohol. Available in – Festhalle Bräurosl, Hacker-Festzelt. Described as “golden, bottom-fermented, with a malt-aroma and a very mild bitterness.”
SEE ALSO: Your guide to Oktoberfest traditions