Before I changed careers and became a teacher…before I moved to a college town…before I started following my religion again…September has always felt like the “new year” to me. The weather changes (sometimes drastically), people start buying new school clothes and there’s just a general feeling of settling into a new routine. Something else wonderful happens every fall: Oktoberfest beers start appearing at our favorite pubs!
The first Oktoberfest beer that I ever had was from the late, much missed Leopold Brothers in Ann Arbor. The deliciousness of their beer prompted me to investigate the beer more. A classic Oktoberfest should be malty but not overly sweet, have a light to moderate toasty malt aroma, low to moderate hop bitterness and overall smooth, clean and rich malty character. I’ve never brewed an Oktoberfest but for some reason, I can see recipes going horribly, horribly wrong; indeed, at least one Oktoberfest beer I’ve had this season was way too sweet and another just tasted like plain beer
This past week, Ashley’s had a special night featuring American made Oktoberfests. Interesting, the event coincided with the end of my Yom Kippur fast (thanks, ancient Hebrews, for hooking a sister up!). I summoned my friends Sarah & Susan for a girls’ night “break the fast” with me. In addition to copious amounts of food, I also enjoyed several of the beers:
Bell’s Octoberfest: I’ve had this beer in the bottle before and haven’t been too excited about it. I am so happy that I tried it on draft because it’s a totally different beer! The malt flavor is perfect—not too sweet or cloying but definitely present and deliciously toasty. Nice malt finish for this crisp and delicious beer.
Arbor Brewing’s Hoptoberfest: Now while it is true that there should not be a huge hop profile in an Oktoberfest beer, it also true that some bitterness is permissible. The BJCP guidelines (the rules you use for judging beers) allow for “moderate” hoppiness in this style of beer. The late addition of hops mos’ def’ gives this beer a kick of bitter flavor, but the hoppiness never overpowers the maltiness. It is a wonderfully balanced beer and should please those hop heads out there.
Avery Brewing Company’s Kaiser Imperial Oktoberfest: Oh holy night the stars are brightly shining indeed! The malt was reminiscent of Mom’s freshly baked bread (if my mom baked bread, which she didn’t) and even some hints of pepper (reminding me of my friend Matt’s pepper bread). There was definitely an alcohol warming in my mouth as there should be—the beer is over 9% a.b.v. The alcohol taste does not in any way detract from the wonderful malt taste and aroma. If you are wondering what malt tastes like—drink this beer! I have read some reviews of this beer and people are saying that they picked up some bitterness…I must have missed this while I just basked in the bready wonderland.
The great news is that Oktoberfest season is far from over! And yes, smart asses, I know that it’s CRAY that Oktoberfest beers come out in September!! And why is it spelled with a K?!?! All I can say is to ask Mr. or Ms. Google about that noise…I’m just here to enjoy the beer!