FOUR FOR OCTOBER

Oktoberfest time is here again. Here is a review of four American versions of the marzen style. Marzen or bier de mars, is the traditional amber style associated with this season. Marzen is a delicious full body, malty brew that goes quite well with a large variety of foods. In fact, I can think of no beer style better suited to autumn activities, from baseball and football games, to cookouts in the backyard, marzen goes well with pizza, meat, chicken, snacks etc. Full of flavor, this style of beer is a joy to have on hand to celebrate the close of summer, and to welcome the time of harvest.
Harpoon Octoberfest
Harpoon Brewery
Windsor, Vermont
Like all marzen style beers, this is a copper coloured pour that puts emphasis on the malty finish. The expert use of hops keeps this a delight throughout the entire drinking experience.
Brooklyn Oktoberfest
Brooklyn Brewery
brewed at F.X. Matt Brewery, Utica, New York
This is a masterful rendition of marzen beer, with Brooklyn’s yeast providing a wonderful nutty flavor note in the finish. Beautifully balanced and focused.
Great Lakes Oktoberfest
Great Lakes Brewing Co.
Cleveland, Ohio
Seasonal brother of their Eliot Ness Vienna Amber, this one hits the center of the target, with a very malty, almost chewy, showcase. At 6.5% abv, this is also a stronger version. Very good from start to finish.
Samuel Adams Octoberfest
Boston Beer Company
Cincinnati, Ohio

What else can be said of this great fresh beer? Over the years I have always enjoyed the Sam Adams seasonals, but this recipe, thoroughly refined by the use of Noble hops, is one of their very best. Just anticipating the arrival of this brew is a cause for much happiness. A very fine example of a company that refuses to compromise their quality.
So here is the first four, there will be others. Hats off to this very great style of celebratory beer.
As always, my only prayer is Thank You.
`

THREE DIFFERENT CRAFT PACKS

This is a review of three different variety packs from three different wonderful brewing companies. Because of the recent purchase by InBev of Anheuser-Busch, I thought I would begin with now what is the number one American brewing company, the Boston Beer Company, also known as Samuel Adams.
SAMUEL ADAMS BREWMASTER’S VARIETY PACK
There are different manifestations of this sampler, depending upon the season, or what new brewing style Samuel Adams wishes to introduce. This one features their Irish Ale, their incredibly juicy take on the Irish red style, delicious from start to finish. The Black Lager is a German (rather than Shiner’s Czech) take on schwartzbier, smooth and balanced. The Scotch Ale here reassures seekers of fine beer that Samuel Adams is not afraid to create beers with uncompromising style. In this case, a world class example of ale with incredible malty flavor depth. The Brown Ale is their tribute to the British style which puts emphasis on toasted malts, using six specialty varieties, along with Kent Goldings and Fruggles hops. Their Honey Porter is an original take on the before stout style, with intriging flavor complexity. The brand name Boston Lager rounds out this tour. The quality consistency for their famous amber lager is one of the main reasons Sam Adams beers are held in such high regard. Their achievements in beer culture are considerable, to say the least.
SARANAC ADIRONDACK TRAIL MIX
After the fire at the brewery last May, it is always good to see Saranac beers. This version of their Trail Mix features their Brown Ale, an all American ale that is very delicious indeed. In fact, I would have to rate this as one of the better beers found in the United States. The Black Forrest is Matt Brewing’s take on Bavarian black beer. Their expert knowledge of different brewing styles is quite evident here, very flavorful and wonderfully balanced. The inviting Pale Ale is an authentic take on the British style, producing a fruity palate that is surprizingly sophisticated. The India Pale Ale is a good choice for those seeking a hoppy ale that is not over the top. The Black & Tan, a long time member of the Trail Mix, combines pleasantly, German-style lager with Irish-style stout. The flagship Adirondack Lager, completes the variety, the tasty amber lager first brewed in the beginning of the Saranac brand.
DUNDEE CRAFT PACK
From Utica, New York to Rochester, you’ll find the Highfalls Brewing Company, brewers of the great Genesee bock, who have revamped their J.W.Dundee line of beers to simply Dundee. Hats off to High Falls for helping F.X. Matt after the fire. It should also be noted that Highfalls attempts to raise awareness on the decline of the honey bee, an insect whose product is vitally important to their famous flagship brand Honey Brown Lager, should be applauded.
The Dundee craft pack features a decidedly non-German take on hefeweizen, their Wheat Beer forgoes the banana-clove notes from the yeast, for a straight ahead thirst quenching approach. Their India Pale Ale lacks some malt support. But this can not be said of the Porter, a bona-fide American classic. The kind of beer I would like to have on hand, during the winter holidays. Late spring would certainly seem brighter with their Pale Bock Lager, an authentic recipe take on German Mai Bock, golden and strong, with nectar like qualities. The Dundee Pale Ale is in the middle of the American ale range, combining American hops and malts and a new world, zesty yeast. The original Honey Brown completes this pack. The honey flavored pilsner has been brewed enough times at Highfalls to completely master the recipe.
All three of these variety packs are available in 12 pack boxes. Six times two means more good beer for me and you. Cheers!