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Beer Review #139 Spaten Oktoberfest

Is it weird that I didn’t have a single Spaten branded beer when I was in Germany? That reminds me, I need to get the rest of my Europe trip post on that site. In any case, Oktoberfest is an annual beer festival held in Munich each year and generally lasts for 16-18 days. It just started this last Saturday and I thought it appropriate to review an Oktoberfest today.

Spaten’s version of an Oktoberfest pours a rich amber color and has a thin off-white head. It wasn’t until the beer had emptied from the bottle that I realized that the bottle was actually green. My first thought was,  “bummer, I hope the sun didn’t get to it.” The nose was nice and malty with mixes of bread. There was a slight hop bump which was very nice followed by some slight lager sulfur.

On the taste I really got some nice strong caramel flavors. The bready notes promised in the smell could be found as well. There was a small hop bite on the end, but nothing too terrible. I forgot how balanced an accurate Oktoberfest is supposed to be. There was a bit of sun damage which I will call “Euro-skunk” since I have tasted it in many ill-cared for European lagers.

Overall I liked this one. I was happy to try a beer that comes from the home of Oktoberfest. The brewery that brews this beer, Spaten-Brau, is actually located in Munich, Germany. I found this one exceptionally balanced, even with a bit of sun damage. At 5.9% it makes me really want to go back to Germany and sit in a beer garden with a liter glass and relax the day away. (more…)

Beer Review #75 Saranac Oktoberfest

The last Oktoberfest I have to review for the year comes from Saranac, aka Matt Brewing Company, out of Utica, New York. Saranac is one of the first craft breweries that I ever had. Maybe it was because you could get a variety case for under $25, or the fact that I wanted to try some new beers, but in any case, I have been drinking Saranac beers for a number of years. Through all of that time, I never had their Oktoberfest. What’s even better, this beer came as a gift.

Saranac’s Oktoberfest pours and orange, amber color with a thin, slightly off-white head. It is crystal clear as all of the Oktoberfest beers have been (and should be for that matter). The nose has a bit of sulfur on it as a few other examples have had. There is also a grainy malt smell with some bread and slight roast thrown in there. I didn’t get any heat or hops on the nose, which is fine in my book.

The taste has a malty front, with some spice, which is followed by a spicy back-end. There was a lot more of a hop bite than I expected. The typical hops used in Oktoberfest beers do have a bit of spiciness to their flavor profiles, but this was the first Oktoberfest I reviewed that really featured the flavor.

I think this is a nice Oktoberfest. It is slightly more hoppy  than other beers of the style, but all-in-all it is a solid beer. It goes down easy, which is something I love in a malty beer. Saranac Oktoberfest also comes in at 5.4% ABV, so you could drink a few and still be standing. It is a good beer if you have the chance to try it, but there are some better examples out there. (more…)

Beer Review #74 Stegmaier Oktoberfest

Stegmaier Oktoberfest comes from the Lion Brewery in Wilkes-Barre, PA. Stegmaier is one of two brands the Lion Brewery makes for themselves. The other is the Lions Head, or really cheap college beer. When I was in school you could get a case of Lions Head for $9. The Lion Brewery does a lot of contract brewing and their facility is massive. I had no idea that this Oktoberfest was made by the Lion Brewery when I purchased it, I thought it was from Germany.

This beer pours a golden amber color and has a thin off-white head. It is perfectly clear as expected. The nose is slightly maltly, but it is not very distinct. There are some yummy toasty notes in there along with some slight heat. It smells like an Oktoberfest, with a nice balance of components. On my first sip, I thought it tasted exactly like the nose. Slight malt, with some graininess and toasty notes. There is some slight heat on the back-end along with a light hop bite. Overall it was very enjoyable.

I think this is a pretty straightforward Oktoberfest. It isn’t fancy and delivers on what it promises. There are better ones out there, but I think this would be a good example of a traditional Oktoberfest.  It comes in at 6.0% ABV so you could have a few without fear. I would get this again and I would suggest that you try it. This beer could be a gauge for how other Oktoberfest beers measure up. (more…)

Beer Review #73 Otter Creek Oktoberfest

I’ve never had an Otter Creek beer before, but I can’t help but pick up seasonal beers when I see them. Otter Creek Brewing Company is located in Middlebury, Vermont and their website doesn’t give much more detail on the company other than that. Doing a bit more research I found their earliest beer that is still in production was originally made in 1991. Our beer for today made its first appearance in 1995.  This Oktoberfest does not come in the normal blue and white diamonds, instead the bottle’s label is orange and has the Otter Creek crest prominently displayed.

The beer pours a nice orange color white a thin off-white head. The clarity is there as well. On the nose I got some slight caramel sweetness. There is no heat on the nose but there is a bit of hops. I also picked up a slight sulfur smell on the nose. I get sulfur on lager beers on a regular basis, but in Oktoberfest style beers the malt usually drowns it out.

The taste is surprisingly not malty at all. The main thing you notice is a harsh/strange ending in the beer. The sulfur is on the back-end as well and that might be contributing to the strange ending. There are a fair amount of hops in this beer, much more than what I would expect in a traditional Oktoberfest. Otter Creek’s Oktoberfest comes in at a very light 4.5% ABV. You could easily down a few of these and not have to worry about getting far gone. If this beer didn’t have the strange ending it does, it would be much more drinkable. I would say that there are much better examples of Oktoberfest beers out there. I’m not going to be purchasing this beer again next year. (more…)

Beer Review #72 Lancaster Brewing Company Oktoberfest

Our second Oktoberfest comes all the way from Lancaster, PA (only an hour’s drive from where I currently live). I went to college out near Lancaster, and I gained a love of Lancaster Brewing Company. Almost two years ago I visited their location in Lancaster. I believe their bottled beers are actually brewed by the Lion Brewery in Wilkes-Barre, PA. I’ve had their Oktoberfest a few too many times, and three years ago, something was just off with it. I haven’t tried it since, but when I saw it at the store this year, I decided to grab it.

It pours a nice amber color with a thin off-white head that quickly fades. It is clear, as expected. The nose is malty, with some sweetness, but it is not as sweet as Brooklyn’s Oktoberfest. There are some notable bread aromas in there as well. On the first taste I really noticed how dry it was. There is a sweetness upfront, but the dryness kicks in and cuts it off. The toasty and bready notes do follow through-out the beer. There is a slightly sulfury aftertaste, but it wasn’t terrible. There is also a bit of heat to comes in at the end as the beer is drying out.

It is a decent Oktoberfest, but not my favorite. There is just something about the beer that doesn’t sit right with me. Maybe it was the sulfur and dry combination, but it didn’t compare to other Oktoberfest beers that I’ve had. It does kick up the ABV compared to some other beers as well and comes in at a lovely 6.5%. Try it if you see it, but know that there are betters out there. (more…)