Oktoberfest’s by any other name, would hopefully smell sweeter
Though I’ve spent many a day tasting (insert adjective about beer here) types of brews, I’ll never claim to be a professional taste tester. Although, I am a certified cicerone, it’s the beer server kind, not the master kind. Still, I believe all beer should be treasured. Nothing is worse than a hop head scoffing at a malt lover for not always drinking the hottest IPA. It’s more fun when you expand your horizons a little and drink what you like, not what others say you should like. Beer is meant to be enjoyed, so I always demand and expect exploration from the beers I drink.
For many beer lovers it is the first sign of fall. It feels like Oktoberfests make their way onto shelves in mid-summer, but I assure you, the season has changed. To celebrate the changing season in Wisconsin, I decided to take a tour of some of Wisconsin’s finest breweries for a taste of how fall is welcomed. I don’t want to give anything away, but it wasn’t too intriguing.
I saved the best for first. The O-toberfest from O’so Brewing in central Wisconsin was a much sweeter take on a beloved style. Most Oktoberfests are supposed to be rich and malty, but this one stood out among the group because of its ornate chocolate notes and equally rich mouthfeel. Poured a nut brown-esqe with a similar flavor profile in its biscuit aroma and taste. It definitely says rake the leaves and drink some hot apple cider and was quite sessionable. Try it!
The next four were communal in their attempt to capture fall in a bottle. They all shared the true-to-style attributes, but no one stood out or created anything distinctive. Maybe they are all saluting the original style but I personally think its lazy this day and age. Many of you may like the original Oktoberfest style, I say leave that to InBev.
Oktillion by Madison’s own Ale Asylum was the lightest in color with a crisp flavor and had me thinking of the leaves falling in the classic sense and kudos to Ale Asylum for at least thinking of a unique name and separating themselves a little. Oktoberfest from MKE Brewing out of Milwaukee felt dull with a buttery aftertaste. It was almost as though they knew they had to produce something for the season and they looked for what ingredients were lying around. The Oktoberfest from Lakefront, also out of Milwaukee, was truest to form but did not stand out among a crowd of beers from any style. Biscuity aroma and drinkable but I can find that in a lot places this season. We have lots to choose from and only so many spots on the shelf, you have to be different, now more than ever. The biggest let down was probably Oktoberfest from Central Waters based in Amherst, Wisconsin. Mainly because they are always stellar. It had a beautiful rich amber color but was overall just a basic beer.
Ultimately, if you like the classic Oktoberfest style, I encourage you to try any of those that I spoke about. Let’s encourage our local brewers to push even the most consistent of styles to be bigger, bolder and far more complex.