For those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, September marks the transition from summer to winter. For beer lovers, it signals the arrival of Oktoberfest. Yes, the time has once again come to partake in the 206-year-old tradition of imbibing on the finest spicy and malt-forward brews the world has to offer. In this installment of the Wise Guys Beer Review, I'll explore four Oktoberfest-style brews YOU should be drinking in 2016. Are you ready? Let's get to it!
Griffith, Indiana's New Oberpfalz Brewing might not yet have the reach that many craft industry giants have been afforded, but don't dare let that fool you. This German-influenced microbrewery continues to serve up well-crafted brews at an affordable price, and their take on an Oktoberfest is certainly no exception. Prepare to be wowed, friends. Prepared to be wowed.
Notes of sweet caramel, green apple, clove, cinnamon, and pear are most prevalent in both the aroma and flavor, with hints of banana, orange zest, vanilla, and wood also making an appearance on the palate. This creamy and easy-drinking 5.6 percenter is an excellent choice, if you're looking to jump into fall with a taste of Old World tradition. A must try and a great introduction into the world of Marzen beers.
And while most breweries do stick to conventional beer wisdom when crafting their version of an Oktoberfest, there are those who, for better or worse, take an alternative route. The one-off release Tuberfest from the anomalous bunch at Lagunitas Brewing Company is a perfect example of this alternative route.
Coming in at a whopping 7.5% ABV, Tuberfest imparts an unrelenting blast of earthy hop forwardness, followed by notes of brown sugar, caramel, sweet potato, molasses, and, yes, more hops. Dangerously drinkable, this well-balanced brew is more akin to an IPA or a hoppy amber ale than it is an Oktoberfest. Still, not unlike any of the other dozen or so offerings from Lagunitas, Tuberfest is darn good and I think that most hop heads will agree. Don't miss out!
Baltimore, Maryland's Clipper City Brewing (Heavy Seas Beer) follows suit with their weird and whacky delivery of an Oktoberfest-style lager with the unmistakable Treasure Fest. A staple in the craft beer scene since 1995, Heavy Seas Treasure Fest employs dry hopping with copious amounts of American hops which yields a 6 percent brew that, in many ways, is as unique as it gets for this style. An abundance of tropical fruit notes and a lingering minty quality combined with notes of caramel, bread, cinnamon, and allspice make this tasty offering an excellent choice for the most adventurous of beer drinkers. Hop aboard, if you dare!
And last but certainly not least is the big, bad, and highly touted effort from Marshall, Michigan's Dark Horse Brewing. This previously ultra-limited release comes in at 7.5% and delivers bold notes of roasted malts, pumpernickel bread, dark chocolate, black coffee, pumpkin, caramel, vanilla, and hints of peat. Not for the faint, this Oktoberfest begins with a blast of unrelenting sweetness and then finishes with a bomb of bitter chalkiness. Quite possibly the best of the bunch, this offering will certainly mature over time making it an excellent choice for the cold winter months. Kudos to Dark Horse!
So, there you have it: a wide range of Oktoberfest's suited for just about any palate. Take your pick or try them all, but at the very least try one. After all, Oktoberfest comes but once a year and I'd hate to see you miss out on what could very well be YOUR next favorite beer!
Until next time. Cheers!