We rounded up eight local breweries with festbiers available now for all your Oktoberfest needs.
ABV is our weekly series that highlights a different beer from a local Pittsburgh brewery every week. Check out our past picks here.
I’ve always believed in giving credit where credit is due. And although the festbier (beer style) may register low on the hype meter, it absolutely deserves its moment in the limelight.
What’s a Festbier?
For folks unfamiliar, festbier is the present-day beer served at Munich’s Oktoberfest in Germany. Per beerandbrewing.com, it is related to Oktoberfest but definitely a distinct style. It’s a pale lager with a clear Pilsner malt biscuit bent, with some additional toasted malt flavors in support.
Put in layman’s terms – it’s a dry, light and pleasant clear beer with fall flavors; you can DEFINITELY drink more than one.
If you talk to your local brewmaster, there’s a good chance they’ve had Sierra Nevada Oktoberfest – a well-respected festbier that reappears every year. Here are eight Pittsburgh-based breweries with a local take on the festbier.
Where to Pick Up Locally Brewed Festbiers
ABV, Volume LXXXVI
Hofbrahaus // Southside
Beer Name // ABV: Festbier // 6.3% ABV
Know Before You Go: During non-COVID times, Hofbrahaus would normally lean into Oktoberfest season – both with their beer and a robust events schedule. Although we can’t safely gather and singalong to the live band this year, Festbier is available at Hofbra for both (limited) on-site consumption and takeout.
Dancing Gnome Beer // Sharpsburg
Beer Name // ABV: Festbier // 4.5% ABV
About the Beer: This year to mark the Fall equinox, Dancing Gnome is brewing both Okta – their marzen-style lager, which drops next week – and Festbier, which falls into the festbier / Helles Lager category and is available now. The DG team has done an incredible job exploring traditional styles and flexing their portfolio of capabilities in 2020 with Kolsch-style ales, Red Rye Ales, Barrel-Aged Lagers, and more. This year’s Festbier includes an addition of Bloody Butcher malted corn, which increases the floral and spice characteristics from the German hops.
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New for our fall lineup this year is Festbier. Festbier is, for all intents and purposes, a helles lager, brewed specifically for the Oktoberfest celebrations. It's much lighter and less malt forward than a Märzen (Okta is a Marzen, and will be ready next week!), which comes in handy when you're slugging down full liter pours. For our Festbier, we took an untraditional step and added Bloody Butcher corn to the grist. This speciality corn was grown and malted in North Carolina, and provides a very unique and pleasant spice component to the beer, especially when paired with the floral and spice forward German Tettnang hops. —— Dry and light at 4.5% but with fall flavors that will have you drinking pint after pint. Snag your 4-pack now or a draft pour in the Garden starting tomorrow.
Cinderlands Beer Co // Strip District
Beer Name // ABV: Danville Train // 6.1% ABV
About the beer: Described as rich, bready and drinkable, the Danville Train is a golden lager festbier that you can pick up at Cinderlands in the Strip District OR enjoy it at their pop-up beer garden. The Lagerlands socially-distant pop-up is happening every weekend (by reservation) in the Southside til November. Learn more about Lagerlands here.
Couch Brewery // Larimer – Highland Park
Beer Name // ABV: Fest Bump // 5.3% ABV
Know Before You Go: Couch is doing both takeout and limited indoor / outdoor seating at the moment. Fest Bump is actually a collaboration festbier that Couch worked on alongside Door Top Brewing. Check out their teaser video for Fest Bump below.
Penn Brewery // Northside
Beer Name // ABV: Oktoberfest // 5.5% ABV
Know Before You Go: Penn is currently ONLY available through a distributor or grocery store. Their Northside location is strictly a production facility at the moment (no bar service or curbside pickup).
Cobblehaus // Coraopolis
Beer Name // ABV: C-III // 5.8% ABV
About the Beer: Folks trying C-III can expect a pale, malty lager that’s deep gold in color with a medium body. You’ll note a light bready sweetness with aromas of caramel and darkened toast. Also – fun fact – C-III is both a seasonal festbier AND it marks the third anniversary for Cobblehaus Brewing in Coraopolis.
Look what’s coming to our website and available for purchase during your next visit – Starting tomorrow, Thursday August…
All Saints Brewing Company // Greensburg
Beer Name // ABV: Oktoberfest Lagerbier // 5.7% ABV
About the Beer: Per All Saints, this authentic German Festbier has the perfect balance of malt sweetness, hop bitterness, and toasted crispness. You’ll catch a light copper color and light body with a clean, crisp finish. Per tradition, Oktoberfest Lagerbier is brewed with 100% German malt and hops.
Allegheny City Brewing // Northside
Beer Name // ABV: OFest // 5.7% ABV
Know Before You Go: A late entry that I did NOT want to exclude – Allegheny City has OFest on right now for both on-site consumption (beer garden) and takeout. This traditional Oktoberfest lager registers at 5.7% ABV and – if you’re an ACB regular – you’ll know that these guys book some awesome food trucks. Plan to eat and get cozy in their outdoor beer garden. Pro Tip: peep ACB’s Facebook page for updates including draft lists, hours of operation and food truck availability.
The Honorable Mentions – not quite Festbiers, but still damn good
Roundabout Brewery // Lawrenceville
Beer Name // ABV: Black Possum // 5.5% ABV
About the Beer: Although not a festbier, Roundabout’s black lager carries notes of roasted malt with a light body and dark color in the glass. Roundabout’s riverside pop-up garden is still going strong and details can be found on their Instagram.
East End Brewing // Larimer
Beer Name // ABV: Bedford Dwellings // 4.8% ABV
About the beer: Although this one ALSO is not classified as a festbier, I feel comfortable recommending Bedford Dwellings for a couple of reasons. First, it’s a dunkelweizen – folks who are familiar with East End’s year-round Hefeweizen, which is called Hefe Weizen, can expect Bedford Dwellings to taste a bit more amber, malty and sweet with hints of ester-born bananas. Second, it’s part of East End’s neighborhood series and is therefore very limited edition. Go check it out.
Hop Farm Brewing // Lawrenceville
Beer Name // ABV: Fresh Pot of Porter // 5% ABV
About the beer: If you’ve been following the ABV beer column, then you know I’m a huge fan of Hop Farm’s Fresh Pot of Porter, an American-style porter brewed using coffee beans from Pittsburgh’s own La Prima Espresso Co. One thing to note, Fresh Pot of Porter is only available in 64-oz growler fills at the moment.
Lorelei // East Liberty
Surprise! If you’ve read this far down, we figured you might be feeling a little hungry. To complement those Oktoberfest beers, here’s a little Oktoberfest food shoutout. Lorelei is rolling out seasonal menu offerings for an (outdoor) Oktoberfest (Sept 23 – Oct 11). Peep their social media for updates and while you’re poking around, check out this delightful review from City Paper on the Lorelei Sausage Kart program. Lorelei offers a great bunch for beer lovers too.
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Save the dates! Starting this Wednesday, it’s our annual Oktoberfest celebration of Bavarian food and beverage, this year outdoors on our ample sidewalk (now with tents and patio heaters for your comfort). We’ve got nearly all-new menus of offerings across the board – beer, wine, cocktails, and eats – with some gravity keg tappings and other special events to be announced. With the event comes new fall hours below: – 🍺 Wed-Fri: 5-10 p.m. 🍷 Sat: 1-9 p.m. 🍸 Sun: 11 a.m.-4 p.m. 🥨 Mon-Tues: closed – Prost, Pittsburgh!
Header Image courtesy of Dancing Gnome Beer.