Described aptly as “America’s answer to Oktoberfest,” Drink:Eat:Play’s Septemberfest on Sept. 25 featured over 200 beers from nearly 70 breweries from across the nation. While they clearly could have spent some more time crafting an über-American name, Septemberfest was more or less exactly what Oktoberfest is, just with more American flags.

Music, barbecue and, of course, ample amounts of beer went down in spectacular fashion. Turns out four hours of unlimited beer can really get the party rolling, especially when many of the microbrews featured anywhere from the standard 4.0 percent alcohol all the way into the double digits.

It was an arduous, grueling task to sample a variety of world-class beers, but someone had to do it. Below is a selection of the best of the best. Some you may have heard of and some not, but all of these breweries should be extremely proud of themselves. And hopefully this guide will give you a leg up for this month’s Oktoberfest.

Fireman’s Brew: Back in December 2000, two Los Angeles firemen were fighting a brushfire when they realized just how intensely they needed a beer. Why settle for a boring Budweiser when they could make their own? And with that the Fireman’s Brew was born.  

The brewery has three distinctive styles: the Blonde, Redhead and Brunette. I was able to sample the Brunette and, much like a fire hose, it was thick, powerful and full on. The Blonde was a bit more of a traditional lager with a smooth, easy-to-drink taste that was still quite delicious.

The company donates proceeds from all sales to the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation in Emmitsburg, Md., and they also craft their own brand of coffee and homemade sodas.

Firestone Walker Brewing Company: Located in Paso Robles, Calif., the Firestone Brewery is wine country’s offering to the world of microbrews. Simply put, this might be one of the finest breweries in the state if not the nation. They’ve won more awards than “The Sopranos,” and their phenomenal Firestone Pale Ale was voted “Best Beer in America” by Men’s Journal in 2006.

Thankfully, the hype is warranted. If you’re lucky enough to find a bar that has Firestone on draft, thank the bartender and go there regularly. The Pale Ale possesses an amazing caramel color and smells as good as it tastes. It's got a powerful, intense flavor that is nevertheless conveniently easy to drink. Firestone also brews Nectar Ales, a company they acquired in 2005. Its famous “Hemp Ale,” while not possessing any actual abilities to get you stoned, is nonetheless quite an interesting treat.

The Great Beer Co.: The Great Beer Co. is famous for their Hollywood Blonde, German-inspired Golden ale. It is based off the Kölsch, the regional beer of Cologne, Germany, that can only be brewed within a 20-mile radius. But is it any good? The drinkability of this Blonde is really tremendous. In addition to their Hollywood Blonde, the Great Beer Co. also serves up a Brunette and Redhead much like the Firemen. The Redhead retained the drinkability of the Blonde but added a flavorful kick that made it a more intense, if not smoother, beer.

Stone Brewery Co.: These beers … will put some hair on your chest. San Diego’s legendary Stone Brewing Company serves up a wide variety of powerful brews akin to a barrage of Chuck Norris roundhouse kicks to your sobriety and taste buds. Best known for their aptly titled Arrogant Bastard Ale, Stone’s creations really aren’t for the weak of heart.

Their famed IPA will sit with you for about 40 seconds after the first sip as each flavor comes in waves. While the Bastard might be its most famous, the IPA takes the prize for its deliciously, intensely hoppy flavor and ability to get you buzzing after just one pint. Those seeking an even more challenging creation can sample the Ruination IPA, which will leave you unable to legally operate a vehicle after a couple sips.

Sold on draft or exclusively in 24-ounce bottles, Stone really is a black diamond brewery. It’s as challenging as it is rewarding.