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Cheers! Minnesota Oktoberfest named one of nation's best

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The end of summer means the kickoff to a German beer lover's favorite time of year – Oktoberfest.

Minnesotans don't have to go all the way to Germany to celebrate the annual festival, they can don their lederhosen at one of the United State's best celebrations right in New Ulm, according to a list by Fodor's Travel.

The New Ulm Oktoberfest is held from Oct. 3-4 and Oct. 10-11 at four locations in the city. Fodor's says the event "takes visitors back to old Bavaria with signature, unique spins on classic Oktoberfest celebrations," noting the horse-drawn trolleys that bring visitors to Schell's Brewery, and the city's 45-foot signature Glockenspiel Clock Tower.

Other Midwest festivals made the list, including Chicago's St. Alphonsus Oktoberfest and LaCrosse, Wisconsin's Oktoberfest.

Minnesota's Oktoberfest beers

Oktoberfest beers (also called Märzens) are a unique style. In the early days of brewing – before refrigeration – brewing season ended in the spring and started again in the fall because summer was too hot, which brought the risk of bacterial infections, according to the Beer Advocate. Because of this, most beers were brewed in March (Märzen).

These beers are a unique style, described by Beer Advocate as "full-bodied, rich, toasty, typically dark copper in color with a medium to high alcohol content ... with a mild hop profile."

According to the Rochester Post Bulletin, there were only six producers of original Oktoberfest beers – Paulaner, Hacker Pschorr, Spaten, Hofbrau, Augustiner Brau and Lowenbrau – but now American beer companies have started brewing in this style, and in the last five to eight years, Oktoberfest-style brews have become the No. 1 selling seasonal beer.

The newspaper notes some of the best Oktoberfest beers, with a few Minnesota brewed beverages making the list, including Schell's and Summit.

Just last weekend, people who attended the Minnesota Hospitality Expo voted for the best Oktoberfest beer among the local craft brews offered – Lift Bridge Brewery's Oktoberfest topped the list.

History of Oktoberfest

The marriage of King Ludwig and Princess Therese of Saxony-Hildburghausen on Oct. 12, 1810, started the annual tradition. The citizens of Munich, Germany, were invited to attend festivities to celebrate the royal marriage, according to the city of Munich.

Horse races were also held to mark the close of the event, and the town decided to hold them again the following year, which gave rise to the tradition of Oktoberfest, the city says.

Now, it's the largest festival in the world – 6 million visitors from around the world come to the German town to celebrate the 16-day festival every year.

This year's festival begins Sept. 20 and goes through Oct. 5 – the festival always ends the first Sunday of October.

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