QTN™: American Oktoberfests

I’ve been tasting a variety of Oktoberfest beers, in name if not in style, this fall. The latest, from Avery Brewing Company, is the Kaiser Imperial Oktoberfest. And it’s a big beer. A barleywine, in all but name. But it’s not an Oktoberfest. It’s a great big quaffable (if not sessionable), very tasty, 10% beer. But it’s not an Oktoberfest. It’s not a märzen. If they served this at d’Wiesn, people would be screwing in the aisles and fighting with the oompah band. Or vice versa. But the choice of name seems like a cynical marketing choice.

Surprisingly, the same was true of the Oktoberfest from Otter Creek. While sessionable and tasty, the hops made it more of an American pale ale than an Oktoberfest beer. I haven’t done a side by side tasting, but the hops really felt more Cascadian than Bavarian.

This is when I start to wonder why it’s so hard to find a beer that tastes like it was brought in a one-liter mug by a busty barmaid to a table full of enthusiastically drunk German college students and hollering Australians. That’s when I remember the most authentic tasting Oktoberfest I’ve had–perhaps because of its freshness–from Berkshire Brewing Company. Mmm. Mmm. I feel sorry for those outside the limited distribution range, because this beer is right on.

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