This year, Oktoberfest starts in Munich on Sept. 20.
The brews will be poured through Oct. 5. If you're unable to join the party in Bavaria, you can break out the lederhosen and hoist a stein of some very good beer here.
Looking for an authentic taste from a German classic ought to lead you to Ayinger, an outstanding brewer; and the more readily available 'fest brews from dependably fine Spaten, Paulaner, Hacker-Pschorr and Beck's.
But American brewers are having fun with the malty, Oktoberfest style.
The Magic Hat Hex Ourtoberfest delivers the goods with enough maltiness to make you toast Prince Ludwig and Princess Therese all over again, in rollicking fashion. There are caramel notes to spare here, along with a trace of sweetness and smoke. Locally, the Burlington, Vt., brewer's Hex Ourtoberfest is about $9.50 for a six-pack.
Victory Brewing Co. Festbier is a balanced Oktoberfest production, with roasted maltiness and just enough hops: oompah in a bottle. There are suggestions of vanilla in this very smooth package. A six-pack of Victory's Festbier, from Downingtown, Pa., sells here for about $12.
And the Samuel Adams OctoberFest offers the essential sweetness of the festival beer in harmony with a refined bitterness. The golden amber brew from the Boston Beer Company is a seasonal treat. Available hereabouts for about $10 for a six-pack and $17 for a 12-pack. Samuel Adams also is sponsoring a stein-hoisting competition, with two winners receiving a trip to Munich for next year's Oktoberfest. Go to samueladams.com for details.