Oktoberfest

Hofbräu München Oktoberfest

Beer: Oktoberfest
Brewery: Hofbräu München
Style: Oktoberfest/Märzen
ABV: 6.3%

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Serving Style: Bottle
Drinking Establishment: Chez Wood
Primary Consumer: Kerensa

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OVERALL RATING:

Sight: Clear straw body with an airy head that quickly recedes.

Smell: WELCOME BACK, Munich malts!! Bright grass, biscuits, and a tinge of metallic notes.

Flavor: Balanced, but explosive with Oktoberfestbier flavors. There’s equal parts herbal hops and sweet, toffee malts in here. Orange zest and biscuit flavors linger.
Feel: Watery with high carbonation.

Concluding Remark: Hofbräu München’s Oktoberfest is one of the six biers served at THE Oktoberfest. Further, the Hofbräu München tent is THE largest at THE Oktoberfest. And there’s a reason for that. This bier is the reason for that. HB’s festbier is the quintessential example of how Oktoberfestbiers have evolved over time. We have tried a number of American Oktoberfests that have emulated the historic Oktoberfest/Märzen. These have been richer and sweeter,  favoring the malts. However, as we mentioned in our history of the Oktoberfest, German breweries retooled their Oktoberfest recipe in the 1970s to respond to the rising popularity of the much lighter Pilsner. The result has been a lighter, hoppier Oktoberfestbier that beer consumers can enjoy for hours on end without feeling like they are dumping an anvil into their stomachs. HB’s is the best of these newer Oktoberfests. And with that, I am off to finish this six pack with glee.

prost, all.

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Magic Hat Hex Ourtoberfest

Beer: Hex Ourtoberfest
Brewery: Magic Hat Brewing Company
Style: Amber Ale
ABV: 5.4%

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Serving Style: Bottle
Drinking Establishment: Chez Wood
Primary Consumer: Kerensa

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OVERALL RATING:

Sight: Dull amber body, zilch head.

Smell: Citrusy, with bold tangerine and orange aromas. There’s a hint of sweet cinnamon and spice at the end.

Flavor: Initially there’s a bold, herbal hops note that quickly balances out with a wave of sweet, caramel malts. Also a bit of a charred smoke and rye taste.

Feel: Medium body with moderate carbonation. Has a menthol-like cooling effect.

Concluding Remark: With this beer (an amber ale not an Oktoberfest lager), Magic Hat went against the proverbial grain and developed a truly unique take on a festbier. Evident in its name “Ourtoberfest,” Magic Hat’s fall seasonal is solely their own. Am amalgam of the traditional and the avant-garde, it is unlike any of its Bavarian predecessors. Magic Hat combines Oktoberfest hops (Hallertau) with an odd assortment of malts (including a cherry wood smoked malt). The result is an incredible elixir that continues to bewilder with every sip. Is it an Oktoberfestbier? No. It’s not. And usually I would take that into consideration when assigning a pint glass rating. However, it would be difficult to put Ourtoberfest into any single category, so we might as well lump it in with a festive style.

Find this while you can (available until 10/15) and have Yourtoberfest.

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Saranac Octoberfest Amber Lager

Beer: Octoberfest Amber Lager
Brewery: Saranac
Style: Oktoberfest/Märzen
ABV: 5.4%

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Serving Style: Bottle
Drinking Establishment: Chez Wood
Primary Consumer: Kerensa

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OVERALL RATING:

Sight: It looks like apple cider. Dark golden body with no head.

Smell: Relatively straightforward amber lager scent. It’s moderately sweet, with a toasted Munich malt aroma. Finishes with a Bavarian pretzel note.

Flavor: Initially a little sweet, like french toast with a light maple syrup, it is quickly balanced with a salty, pretzel taste. There’s quite a bit of spice at the end, which is a nice surprise

Feel: Watery with disproportionately high carbonation. Dry.

Concluding Remark: Saranac’s Octoberfest is a solid amber lager, but not quite indicative of a true Oktoberfest. It is, however, easy to drink, has enough flavor to keep you interested, and its mouthfeel makes it exceptionally easy to put back. It’s bright, lively, and could be consumed without much thought at any festival.

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Blue Point Oktoberfest

Beer: Oktoberfest Beer
Brewery: Bluepoint Brewing Company
Style: Oktoberfest/Märzen
ABV: 5.5%

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Serving Style: Bottle
Drinking Establishment: Chez Wood
Primary Consumer: Kerensa

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OVERALL RATING:

Sight: Slightly hazy, golden body. No head.

Smell: There’s an overpowering sweetness, like a dulce de leche aroma. Also a bit of fresh raisins, maple syrup, sweet pumpernickel, and apple juice.

Flavor: Cloyingly sweet, as it smells. Notes of syrupy caramel, french toast, and overripe apples. There’s a trace of a hop spice at the end, but not big enough to balance the sweetness.

Feel: Medium thin with modest carbonation.  A little hot from the alcohol. Slippery.

Concluding Remark: Overall, Blue Point’s go at an Oktoberfest is lacking the oomph of an American Oktoberfest and the authentic malt flavors of a German. It’s not offensive or anything (it’s a rather decent lager), but nothing I need to drink again. Especially during THIS season.

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Schlafly Oktoberfest Beer

Beer: Oktoberfest Beer
Brewery: Schlafly
Style: Oktoberfest/Märzen
ABV: 5.1%

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Serving Style: Bottle
Drinking Establishment: Chez Wood
Primary Consumer: Kerensa

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OVERALL RATING:


Sight: Hazy light orange body with a small white head.

Smell: Simple syrup note; it’s straight up sugar, not caramelized like other lagers. It smells like dunking your head in a bag of sugar. There’s a faint hint of bread and wheat.

Taste: Nothing at all like the smell. There’s a bright fruit note–a little pineapple, a little melon. There’s also a sour funk taste like that of a witbier. The aftertaste is a freshly baked biscuit with a little butter

Feel: Effervescent. It feels airy and light, almost as if it had been whipped.

Concluding Remark: Overall, Schlafly’s Oktoberfest is confusing. While an interesting experience–the flavors are solid and the mouthfeel is incredible–there is little resemblance to an Oktoberfest. While not a typical German or American Oktoberfest, it’s refreshing to be surprised and this festbier is even more refreshing to drink.

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Yuengling Oktoberfest

Beer: Oktoberfest
Brewery: Yuengling
Style: Oktoberfest/Märzen
ABV: 5.4%

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Serving Style: Bottle
Drinking Establishment: Chez Wood
Primary Consumer: Kerensa

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OVERALL RATING:

Sight: Deep neon amber, clear body. Pours with a huge beige head that slowly recedes.

Smell: Supremely malty…it’s exceptionally toasted and almost smells like burning leaves. There’s a hint of vinegar and metallic, almost like apple cider vinegar.

Flavor: It tastes like it’s been sitting in a keg for years. There are some decent toasted malt flavors, but the metallic bitterness is pretty off-putting.

Feel: Thin, a little oily, with not much carbonation. Not particularly appealing.

Concluding Remark: Yuengling, while not the bedrock of craft beer, usually produces a drinkable lager; an alternative to your Stella or Coors. However, Yuengling’s Oktoberfest, I would go as far to say, isn’t even drinkable. Quite unfortunate, but you get what you pay for (~$7 for  a 6-pack). Stick with the regular Yueng, if given the option.

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Pyramid Brewing Oktoberfest Autumn Lager

Beer: Oktoberfest Autumn Lager
Brewery: Pyramid Brewing
Style: Oktoberfest/Märzen
ABV: 6.7%

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Serving Style: Bottle
Drinking Establishment: Chez Wood
Primary Consumer: Kerensa

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OVERALL RATING:



Sight: Dark amber body with a small, fluffy beige head with high retention.

Smell: Fruity notes, predominantly peach and apple. There’s a bit of a cedar and woodsy aroma from the hops.

Taste: There are bright hops flavors and an equal amount of full, toasted  and bready malts. It’s balanced, but all of the ingredients shine through and coexist harmoniously.

Feel: Excellent mouthfeel; medium body with high carbonation.

Concluding Remark: Pyramid Brewing, hailing from the Great Pacific Northwest, puts out a pretty awesome American Oktoberfest. While much hoppier than the authentic German brew, this is balanced, wildly flavorful, and showcases the Nugget hops (common in the region)–a unique inclusion in an Oktoberfest. I’m missing a little of the Munich malts, but all in all, it’s a solid beer. And at 6.7%, Pyramid’s Oktoberfest is the strongest at the fest. It could totally beat you in a competition to stay sober after consuming  more than two.

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Otter Creek Oktoberfest

Beer: Oktoberfest
Brewery: Otter Creek
Style: Amber Ale
ABV: 4.8%

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Serving Style: Bottle
Drinking Establishment: Chez Wood
Primary Consumer: Kerensa

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OVERALL RATING:


Sight: Dull amber body…though a fellow reviewer was more poetic and said it reminded him of an autumn leaf. Zero head.

Smell: Quite fruity–smells like tangerine and green apple with a hint of biscuit.

Flavor: Overall, it’s rather cloyingly sweet with a bit of bitter hops and cloves at the end. A nice malt flavor exists somewhere in these other flavors.

Feel: Thin with prickly carbonation.

Concluding Remark: Okay, it should be noted that this is not an Oktoberfest lager, but rather an “Oktoberfest” ALE.  WHY, Otter Creek, WHY? Don’t you know that Oktoberfests are LAGERs?! Oh well. Anyways. Otter Creek’s Oktoberfest is initially a bizarre combination of fall spices, hops, and malts. After a few sips, subtle notes of caramel and bread malts emerge from the other flavors.  It’s a little too sweet, soapy, and muddled, in general. While certainly not a bad beer, and maybe one of the better Otter Creek beers I’ve had, I’ll save my stein for another festbier in the future.

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Harpoon Octoberfest Beer

Beer: Octoberfest Beer
Brewery: Harpoon Brewery
Style: Oktoberfest/Märzen
ABV: 5.5%

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Serving Style: Bottle
Drinking Establishment: Chez Wood
Primary Consumer: Kerensa

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OVERALL RATING:


Sight: Clear ruby body with a small but dense beige head.

Smell: This is a hop explosion. So much so that I had to double check the label to make sure I wasn’t about to drink an IPA. But, alas, it’s an Oktoberfest. Which leads me to the question…WHERE ARE MAH DAMN MALTS? I know we’re in America, but c’mon Harpoon….respect the German tradition!  It does mellows out eventually, but this smells like a pale ale.

Flavor: What. Is. This. It tastes just like a weak pale ale. It’s quite bitter upon first sip and then…nothing. As I keep drinking, there’s a hint of yeast and bread malts somewhere in this hop mess. Maybe a slight peach flavor, too, like a Boone’s Farm peach wine cooler weirdness.

Feel: Thinnish with very high carbonation.

Concluding Remark: Once again, I’m realizing that American breweries really don’t want to adhere to the German classics. Put down the hops and please, just serve us a real Oktoberfest if you’re going ahead and putting the brand on your label. The unfortunate part is that Harpoon actually puts out a relatively interesting beer, but as we judge on style, I can’t get this beer more than a 2.5. Also, they spell it “Octoberfest,” if that’s any indication of its authenticity.

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Warsteiner Oktoberfest

Beer: Oktoberfest
Brewery: Warsteiner Brauerei
Style: Oktoberfest/Marzen
ABV: 5.9%

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Serving Style: Bottle
Drinking Establishment: Chez Wood
Primary Consumer: Kerensa

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OVERALL RATING:


Sight: Clear light golden body with a nondescript head.

Smell: Nearly lacking any aroma, there’s a quiet metallic and water scent if you really look (smell?) for it.

Flavor: The initial taste is a chemical, charcoal note. After getting past that, there’s a faint bread and cardboard taste from the Munich malts. However, it ends quiet bitter–and I have a feeling that wasn’t the intention.

Feel: Standard for the style, it has a medium-thin body with moderate carbonation. It has a hot note from the higher ABV (6%).

Concluding Remark: While I was looking forward to heading back to a German beer after a series of American Oktoberfest ripoffs, that sentiment was lost after tasting Warsteiner’s Oktoberfest. It’s void of the robust malt flavors that its other German counterparts offer. Instead, I’m left with a rather mediocre and uninteresting lager. However, at 6% ABV, a few of these will turn you into a Bierleichen. If that’s what you’re going for, it’s not a terrible means towards that end. As a rule of thumb, though, stick with the Original 6 Oktoberfestbiers when choosing a German Oktoberfestbier. This is not one of them.

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