Over the decades I have sampled thousands of beers and tasted many novel variations of established recipe styles. This is especially true in the United States, where the parameters of what is considered a stout, an India pale ale, saison, etc., are always being experimented with, to push as they say the boundaries of what those recipe approaches can do. But being an old school beer writer, I have always had a wonderful affection for two styles of beer: bock in the spring, and Oktoberfest at the end of summer.
This year I thought it best to cover first Sierra Nevada Oktoberfest 2016 The brewery’s collaboration with all things German, that is not only a seasonal. but also a one time only celebratory event. Last year’s work with Brauhaus Riegle in Augsburg, showcased the delicious Steffi barley. This year’s collaboration with Mahrs Brau in Bamberg, draws attention to the nearly forgotten Record hop of Germany used in historic Fest tradition. Like last year’s production, this is a golden coloured Fest beer quite different in emphasis than last year’s, except that both are a pleasure to drink.
Locally Christian Moerlein Das Uber Fest Lager Is a surprising canned golden lager that is a kind of tribute to the style of Oktoberfest perfected by Paulener in Munich, known as Wiesn Lager. The use of wheat lends this can of beer a delicious drinkable nature. Quite different from their Marzen style Oktoberfest Fifth & Vine.
The American standard for Marzen, Samuel Adams Octoberfest LagerRemains a classic American seasonal (brewed here in Cincinnati) but their 16 ounce can
is a bit of a departure from my local bottled version.
This seems more malt concentrated, somewhat chalky, perhaps accentuated by its 16 ounce packaging.
The once a year return of Great Lakes Oktoberfestis always a fun event, with 6.5% strength reminding that good Fest beer is always an occaison to have a party. It is not surprising that I enjoy their year round little brother marzen, Eliot Ness Amber Lager.
The very traditional Bell’s Oktoberfest
keeps everything in balance. After a few years hiatus, the return of the amber lager is solid and real.
For those who think mega brewing incapable of very good beer, I would suggest Molson Coor’s Leinenkugel’s OktoberfestA beautifully tasty recipe that has respect for German tradition, producing a nutty malt profile, that after many years of sampling, I could pick out in a blind taste test.