Oktoberfest lagers predate refrigeration. Centuries ago, brewing couldn't take place during warmer months because of the threat of bacteria. All brewing ended in March.

Oktoberfest lagers predate refrigeration. Centuries ago, brewing couldn't take place during warmer months because of the threat of bacteria. All brewing ended in March.

In Bavaria, those spring brews - named Marzen, the German word for March - were stored underground in cooler temperatures until the Oktoberfest celebration in the fall. Marzens generally have a full, toasty flavor and a dark copper color.

We tested out some Oktoberfest brews to get into the fall spirit.

Great Lakes Oktoberfest

Brad Keefe: Great Lakes is one of my favorite breweries, but their Oktoberfest brew is uncharacteristically uncharacteristic. Apart from some roasted malt, this is surprisingly bland and a bit of a yawn. Odd, as Great Lakes usually impresses me.

Shelley Mann: I was excited to see the rich amber color of this German-style beer, but then subsequently disappointed when I got a taste of the relatively unremarkable beer. I suppose it'd be suitable for drinking in mass quantities at an Oktoberfest celebration.

Jesse Tigges: I was not impressed by this brew - it tasted like a stale Schlitz. This is the real "mistake by the lake."

Barley's Oktoberfest

Brad: This is more like it. Barley's variation on Oktoberfest is similar to Great Lakes, but with more flavor and style. It's got a great amber-red color, and it either has a nice hint of smokiness to it or it just goes well with the accompanying aroma of Barley's Smokehouse, where we tasted.

Shelley: Filled with malty sweetness, this local brew is probably the most authentic Oktoberfest lager we tasted. I could've downed several pints of this stuff with my pulled pork sandwich.

Jesse: Better than the Great Lakes version in just about every way - taste, color, aroma and carbonation - yet it's still light enough to drink with a belly full of weinerschnitzel.

Bell's Octoberfest

Brad: Is this my favorite only because it's the one that allows my beloved hops to shine through? Probably. Those floral hop smells always get me, and it's got a little taste of fruit in there as well. The most complex - and most drinkable - of the bunch.

Shelley: A delicious beer, though more fruity and hoppy than you expect when you think Oktoberfest.

Jesse: Leave it to Bell's to brew the best version we tried. With a nice touch of hops, it didn't taste like your typical Oktoberfest lager - it was much better.