Oktoberfest beer, also called Märzenbier, is an autumnal favorite of commercial brewers and homebrewers alike. Perfectly paired with grilled sausages and fluttering leaves, Märzen is just the thing to mark the arrival of fall.
Märzenbier was historically brewed in March (März in German), lagered all summer long, and served to thirsty revelers at the Munich Oktoberfest. And while Märzen is no longer the star of the Theresienwiese’s beer tents (a strong Helles replaced it ages ago), the style’s blend of fleeting sweetness, toasty malt flavor, and a supremely quaffable dry finish remains unsurpassed.
The problem for homebrewers reading this is that March is well behind us, and October is sneaking up fast. But fear not! The window for brewing an authentic Märzen may have come and gone, but you can still serve a great knock-off at your Oktoberfest party—and your guests might not even know the difference. It’s time to fake it till you make it with Mocktoberfest, an Oktoberfest beer in every sense but yeast and process. You may not have eight or more weeks to brew a legitimate lager, but you can crank out an ersatz ale in a month or so.