With the weather and leaves beginning to change in the mid-Atlantic after more than 50 days of 90 degree heat this summer, it is time to turn our attention to fall beverages. One of my favorite are Oktoberfest beers.
The first Oktoberfest beer I ever had was from Sam Adams Octoberfest. While it still one of my favorites for its rich color and fall inspiring notes, other fall seasonal beers have grabbed my attention in the last few years. These include Dogfish Head’s Punkin Ale (Pumpkin Pie in a bottle, without the sugar) and New Belgium Brewery’s Hoptoberfest (a Hoptastic dark amber beer). While these beers are excellent, they are either expensive ($8.99 for a four pack of Dogfish Head) or impossible to get on the East Coast (New Belgium).
For this year, I have acquired a sample of some mass produced and specialty Oktoberfest offerings. I bought all of these (excpet the Shiner) at Gilly’s Craft Beer and Fine Wine in Rockville, MD. Each were between $2 and $3 per bottle (sold as singles) and are available in 4 or 6 packs for between $5.99 and $12.99.
These Oktoberfest beers can be roughly divided into two categories: Marzen and Pumpkin Ales. Marzen are traditional Oktoberfest beers and are sometimes called Oktoberfestbier. Pumpkin Ales are pumpkin based.
Here are are a few Oktoberfest beers for 2010.
Spoetzl Brewery – Shiner Oktoberfest: Dark cooper color with a malty start and a hoppy finish. Well balanced and drinkable alone and with food (5.7% alcohol). (Rating ****1/2)
Post Road Pumpkin Ale (Brooklyn Brewery): A cloudy cooper color in the glass. Scents of spice on the nose with a bite of spice (clove, coriander) and slight pumpkin flavors. I expected more pumpkin pie to come through in the glass, but it is a very mild flavor (5.6% alcohol). (Rating ***)
Southern Tier Brewing Company – Harvest Ale: Brewed with four types of hops, this beer is quite hoppy and high in alcohol (6.7%) than many other Oktoberfest or harvest beers. Almost a red color in the glass, it does not have the characteristic traits of fall beers (pumpkin, clove, and cinnamon spices, among others). The hops dominate; it is not your typical fall beer. (Rating ***1/2)