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Oktoberfest Season Has Arrived

Michael Donato, September 03, 2015 -   

I caved recently. I saw a bottle of (last year’s) Great Lakes Oktoberfest in my parents’ fridge and decided to drink it. It was my first Oktoberfest of the season--though I’ve had a half-dozen since. I was initially resistant, as these beers have been around for weeks now but it’s still clearly summer, but it’s a style I enjoy and there’s only so long you can resist. To this point I’ve had 35 different Oktoberfest beers according to Untappd.

I’m not alone. There are quite a few Oktoberfest check-ins in the database already for this year, and it’s only growing. If you recall Oktoberfest seems to peek in mid-September, which is just before the actual Oktoberfest starts so it’s no surprise to see things ramping up as we start the month. I limited my query to beers with at least 50 check-ins since June 1st and found 32 different beers. There are 389 on our leaderboards, but a fair few of those are no longer active and others will need most of the season to accumulate enough check-ins to be reasonably judged.

Jumping out in front are the beers that already are at the top of the leaderboards. New Glarus Staghorn, Ayinger Oktoberfest and Sam Adams Octoberfest. Sam Adams, predictably, leads in volume by a large margin.

Brewery

Beer

Rating

BAR

Style+

Brauerei Aying

Ayinger Oktober Fest-Märzen

4.00

5.03

109.7

New Glarus Brewing Company

Staghorn Octoberfest Beer

3.94

4.73

109.9

Saint Arnold Brewing Company

Oktoberfest

3.84

3.68

107.0

Boston Beer Company (Samuel Adams)

Samuel Adams Octoberfest

3.84

5.26

107.2

Highland Brewing Company

Clawhammer Oktoberfest

3.80

1.71

102.2

Hacker-Pschorr Bräu

Oktoberfest Märzen

3.79

3.51

105.8

Boulevard Brewing Co.

Bob's '47 Oktoberfest

3.79

2.48

104.0

Paulaner Brauerei

Oktoberfest Märzen

3.78

2.92

104.2

Great Lakes Brewing Company

Oktoberfest

3.77

4.26

107.2

Staatliches Hofbräuhaus München

Hofbräu Oktoberfestbier

3.75

2.10

102.2

The two others I’ve had this year so far are further down the list, in the 20s. Brooklyn Brewery Oktoberfest has long been one of my favorites, though it doesn’t usually show up high in lists. I’ve been on a bit of a Ballast Point trend lately, so I jumped at a bottle of Dead Ringer when I saw it.

It’s always fun to see which beers are bringing up the rear. At the bottom are four beers I’ve never heard of. Two by Austrian brewery Brau Union Österreich, one by Heineken owned Cervecería Cuauhtémoc Moctezuma, and one by Spanish brewery Damm S.A. Avoid those if you happen to see them, but the American breweries at the bottom are Shiner Oktoberfest and Leinenkugel. Yuengling’s also does poorly.

Oktoberfest is an interesting season. A lot of more casual beer drinkers really love the style, especially one’s that are turned off by IPAs and bitterness, but many craft drinkers have gone so far down the hop road that it’s hard to to appreciate this otherwise pretty plain malty lager. There are a few clunkers, but if you simply choose an Oktoberfest from a brewery you trust, you’ll probably get a delicious beer. 

Dead Ringer, Ballast Point Brewing Company (6%, 26 IBU, 1.3 BAR 102 Style+)

Appearance = 3.75/5 

Coppery brown. Darker than your traditional Oktoberfest but still appealing.

Aroma= 4/5

Smells pretty good. Malty, as to be expected, but not overly so. Get a little bit of a dark fruit aroma in there. 

Taste = 4.5/5

Normal Oktoberfest taste, but not surprisingly from Ballast Point, more hop flavor than you’d usually get. The malt flavor still dominates and it lingers on the tongue. Taste that dark fruit I smelled, almost an anise type flavor but not quite. More noticeable as the beer finishes on the dryer side. 

Feel = 3.5/5

Nothing real special here. A little lighter despite all the maltiness.

Overall = 4.25/5

I liked this. It doesn’t supplant any of my favorites, but it was a solid Oktoberfest that was just slightly different, in a refreshing way, than your typical Marzen lager. 

 

Michael can be found on Twitter and Untappd where he's hopeful he'll cross the 40 different Oktoberfest boundary this year. You can also email him at beer@ceetar.com.

 
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