Looking to get past the unfortunate second round of my pumpkin tasting, I switched back to sampling Oktoberfests in the hopes of finding something good again. Thankfully the beers poured were all solid, making for a much better night. Slight spelling variation aside on the first sample, they were again all simply named Oktoberfest. Here’s what came out of the fridge this time.
The first beer turned out to be from the Boston Brewing Company, more popularly known as Samuel Adams. Drinking Sam Adams Octoberfest has become one of the first signs of fall for me and I was happy to have enjoyed my first of the year. It poured a golden, light orange body topped off with a bubbly just barely off-white head. The smell was subtle but brought on the style’s characteristic malty sweetness and perhaps just a little bit of roast. The taste offered a moderate amount of sweet malts up front and a solid, bready finish. There was a different kind of sweetness on the finish than was present up front, perhaps more dark fruit than caramel. The beer was medium bodied and well carbonated, almost, but not quite, on the edge of being too carbonated for my tastes. This was a solid beer and is deservedly a fall staple around these parts. At 5.3%, it was the mildest of the beers poured, though not by a lot.
The next beer was from Chicago’s Goose Island Beer Company and was another light orange/golden bodied brew. It smelled very strongly of sweet malts and the taste followed suit. Sweet caramel and toffee flavored malt dominated the front before they tapered off into a more fruity finish, accompanied by a slight bitter roastiness. Apparently the recipe incorporates apricots, and this certainly explained a lot after the reveal. The mouthfeel is moderate yet sufficiently thick to carry the malts Carbonation is moderate and noticeably less than the first offering. I liked this beer a lot, largely due to being a big fan of caramel/toffee malt flavor profiles. The sweetness might not make this a great beer for drinking all day, but it certainly wouldn’t stop me from having two or three. At 6.4%, this one was the strongest of the day, towards the upper end of what to expect for the style.
Last up was a beer from Munich’s own Spaten-Franziskaner Brau. This one poured a light pale copper body without the deeper golden characteristics of the first two. The aroma was slightly sweet but dominated by a bready, yeasty smell. As for the taste, the beer had some sweetness up front and an assertive pilsner-like crisp malt character at the end. The finish also contained bready yeasts and was somewhat spicy. Mouthfeel and carbonation were both medium to allow for easy drinking. Overall, and I may not want to show up in Germany for a bit after saying this, the taste profile didn’t really do it for me. In the interest of fairness I drank this beer first on my second tasting of each beer (after waiting a while and drinking plenty of water) and still felt the same. It wasn’t for me. Apparently sweet malts are where my palate is at right now. This beer was a more moderate 5.9%.
For those keeping track, the rankings after round two are now as follows:
- Goose Island – Oktoberfest: Huge fan of the malt profile. Clear cut front runner.
- Sierra Nevada & BrauHaus Riegele – Oktoberfest: Jumped this up a spot. I kept thinking about this beer after the last tasting and having had a few more beers in the style I felt like an adjustment needed to be made.
- Spoetzl Brewery/Shiner – Oktoberfest: I still really like this one, but the shine is off a bit after two other very good assertive malty and sweet offerings.
- Samuel Adams – Octoberfest: Tough call on placing this one. Carbonation I think puts it at number 4, behind the Shiner.
- Berkshire Brewing Company – Oktoberfest
- Spaten-Franziskaner Brau – Oktoberfest