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Oktoberfest

Other reviews for this beer:
Franz Mueller one beerone beerone beerone beerone beer read it ›
Sprecher Brewing Co.
Glendale, WI
USA
http://www.sprecherbrewery.com

Style: Oktoberfest/Märzen
ABV: 6.0%

Nigel’s Rating:
one beerone beerone beerone beerone beer   (Recommended)


Comments:
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Hello, autumn …

As far as seasons go, autumn ranks right up there. Honestly, if it wasn’t for the fact that I’m a warm weather fiend who loves baseball, golf, and sweating, fall would be my favorite season (if you’re scoring at home, the only season I truly hate is winter).

There are so many reasons to love autumn. The smell of the crisp autumn air. The leaves turning brilliant shades of red and orange. The kickoff of high school and college football uniting communities for three hours every Friday night or Saturday afternoon. Chad Ochocinco’s first touchdown celebration of the season. Horny deer sprinting carelessly in front of vehicles. Blaze orange-clad hunters descending into the woods to shoot at those very same deer. The harvesting of pumpkins and the ritual of stabbing them with knives and sticking candles in them for no particular reason. Turkey. There’s plenty to enjoy in the days between Labor Day and Thanksgiving.

Like beer, for instance. As a lover of BIG beers, Nigel finds his favorite season, summer, produces the least exciting seasonal brews. Sure, I love Oberon as much as the next guy, and sometimes brewers put out hoppy summer ales. Hell, even the occasional big beer may sneak out, like New Glarus’ Imperial Saison, but generally speaking, summer seasonals are light and lack the “oomph” I typically look for in a brew.

This all changes once the calendar turns to September. As the days get shorter and the weather gets cooler, the beers get bigger, starting with Oktoberfests. I’ve stated on a number of occasions that the Oktoberfest/märzen style is one of those that I enjoy, but don’t get all ga-ga over. It’s usually a solid, tasty style that is good, but not great. Nevertheless, it signals a change in the seasons, as beers become darker, hoppier, and bigger all the way into springtime. Also, in true seasonal brew fashion, there are a number of flavors, aromas, etc. present in märzens that reminds one of the harvest. So, despite my overall indifference to most things German, prost!

Virtually every Midwestern craft brewer has some form of an Oktoberfest, so finding one to review wasn’t exactly difficult. I’m hoping to touch on a few this month, and I went with Sprecher’s Oktoberfest over New Glarus’ Staghorn, because, frankly … I frickin’ sing the praises of New Glarus all the time, and I need a break (to clarify, that’s a break from reviewing, not drinkin’ … the latter will never happen). Franz reviewed Sprecher Oktoberfest a few seasons ago, so a quick refresher can’t hurt.

Oktoberfest pours beautifully into my tall Sprecher logo glass, with a frothy head over a finger deep that slowly dissipates, leaving a mild creamy trace throughout. Dark golden brown with a slight reddish hue, Oktoberfest has a touch of carbonation and sedimentation. Overall, a beautiful brew in the glass that fits the season perfectly.

Aromas are typical of the style … pleasant but not overwhelming. Mild notes of roasted barley and general earthiness combine with a touch of sweet caramel and the slightest zip of European hops. The best way to enjoy a märzen aroma is to drink it sitting outside on a crisp autumn evening, as the natural aromas of the season enhance the aromas of the brew. However, on a 75° September evening with an air quality advisory in downtown Milwaukee, Nigel was unable to do that. Pity.

The flavor is exactly as you’d expect for the style; nothing more, nothing less. As a three-mugger, its right in line with 80 percent of the Oktoberfests I’ve had. Initial flavors of mildly roasted nuts and toasted grain hit the tongue, followed quickly by light sugars in the form of caramel and toffee. Only a slight hint of Tettnanger hops comes through at times, as does a slight hint of dark fruit. It’s well balanced for sure, as all the flavors have their role, though they are all very subtle. The overall profile is medium bodied roasted maltiness, exactly as it should be for the style, but, despite its balance and proper ingredients, it doesn’t do anything to set it above the pack. Smooth on the palate with a mild aftertaste, Sprecher’s Oktoberfest, like many of its brethren, is a perfect candidate for an autumn session brew.

No doubt fall is here, and my first Oktoberfest of the season was exactly what I figured it would be: fine. That’s the best I can do. Sprecher’s Oktoberfest is one of a number of solid Midwestern offerings, one that can easily be enjoyed as the season changes, the leaves drop, and my pepper plants die off. If you’re doing a Midwestern Oktoberfest tasting sometime this fall, be sure to add this one to your list. I’m sure it’ll finish in a 56-way tie for runner up.

Cheers!

Reviewed by Nigel Tanner on September 11, 2009.
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