When the weather cools, the humidity subsides and the leaves start to change, it can only mean one thing is about to happen: Oktoberfest.

 There’s a lot of misnomers about Oktoberfest.

 The first is that it actually starts in September. The second is that it is more than just about beer. Rather it is more like our own State Fair: there’s games, amusement rides and yes, lots of food.

 Oktoberfest has been the cornerstone of Bavarian culture since the 1800s and is based on celebrating German culture. These days, Oktoberfest events are a global phenomenon held in just about every crook and cranny of the world.

 But if there is one singular thing in common with these universal events, it’s the beer. The specific style of beer served during this time is the märzen. It is characterized by its amber/copper color, a caramel/toffee-like maltiness and a bready, biscuity finish. It’s mildly carbonated, vaguely bitter and generally carries a low ABV. In other words, perfect for drinking a lot of it, which is what happens at these fests. It’s generally served in liter mugs with almost 8 million liters being consumed during this two-week celebration.

 The most of this beer is drunk in massive tents designated by breweries. In other words, each brewery has its own tent. The tents also have their own entertainment like yodelers and crossbow competitions to specialty food like oxen and roasted duck. Of course you’ll find plenty of standards like sauerkraut, schnitzel, strudel and the always-ever-present item at every beer festival—the pretzel.

 My experience was much more subdued. I had a five-ounce pour of Ayinger Oktober Fest-Märzen in a plastic cup at Beer Study’s Oktoberfest event in Chapel Hill. This brew is a classic and popular version of the style and one of my favorite autumn beers. There wasn’t any pretzels or schnitzel but they did have free pizza. And I did sit at a picnic table. It’s the thought that counts right?

 What brewery makes your favorite Oktoberfest beer? And what food do you pair it with? Leave a comment. Tag us in a tweet. #oktoberfest #food&beerpairings #chapelboro