It’s back! The first guide we ever undertook for the blog — way back in October 2010 — was our Oktoberfest beer review. We covered a few local beers, some national brews and even an import or two. This year we decided to try a few more Oktoberfests on the market, because who doesn’t want a second round? Prost!
*Note: Our rating system is out of five stars.
Two Brothers Atom Smasher
(7.7% alc. by volume)
The Atom Smasher is Two Brothers’ Oktoberfest-style lager. This was the first Oktoberfest beer I had of the season this year. I’m not sure how far the reach is for this brewery, as it’s a local product from Warrenville, Ill. What differs it from the competition? It’s aged in French oak foudres, which are historically used for fermenting and aging beer and wine.
Impressions: This was certainly a pretty smooth Oktoberfest, and pleasantly average. What do I mean by that? I like my Oktoberfests to snap a little more than this did, but it was very easy to put down. I tasted a bit of honey and maybe something along the lines of oak.
(5.4% alc. by volume)
Yuengling’s Oktoberfest is a newbie to the Oktoberfest beer market. It was introduced in 2011. Lucky for me, Yuengling is distributed in Virginia (and a handful of other states, not Illinois. Sorry, Sarah).
Impressions: This was pretty thin for a Märzen-style beer. The flavor was pretty standard, too, with some soft caramel and yeast fragrances. I also found this beer to be a bit sweet, which didn’t bother me.
Great Lakes Oktoberfest
(6.5% alc. by volume)
Let me start this by saying that somehow we got this all backwards because Caitlin’s from Ohio and I’m from Pennsylvania and she got to drink Yuengling and I, instead, had Great Lakes. What added salt to the wound was seeing Brown’s gear in a picture online of this Cleveland-based brew. So sad.
Impressions: I really enjoyed this — and I’ve never found a Great Lakes beer I actually like. You got me, Cleveland! This Oktoberfest (which I also enjoyed on tap) had the crispness I love in a Märzen-style beer. It had a caramel-y, spicy flavor that went great with my cold roast beef sandwich.
St. George Brewing Company Oktoberfest
(6% alc. by volume)
The St. George Brewing Company is located in Hampton, Va., about four hours from where I live. After trying this beer and deeming it to be my favorite of the Oktoberfest bunch, I’m sad to report that St. George’s beer is only distributed in Virginia and North Carolina.
Impressions: I wasn’t prepared to like this beer so much. It was the last bottle I added to my pick-your-own six-pack. Frankly, I though the label was a little corny. But I took the risk and ended up loving this beer! It poured with a nice thick head and maintained a sparkly carbonation. I picked up on flavors brown sugar and caramel with just a tinge of bitter hops. Overall, this was a nice, crisp Oktoberfest.
(5.6% alc. by volume)
I tried Victory’s Summer Love Ale a few months ago, admittedly because I thought the label was cool. This label, on the other hand, I absolutely hate. Had I not been looking specifically for Oktoberfests, I never would have picked this up in a million years. It looks like beer for children.
Impressions: This Philadelphia brewery’s Oktoberfest-style beer fell a bit flat for me (I hadn’t been a fan of its summer ale, either). Definitely the caramel-style notes you look for in a fall beer, but instead of a fuller grain or oak-y flavor, it ended on sort of a green grass note. Certainly not a bad beer at all, but the fact that neither the label nor the taste was impressive made it lose points in my book.
Paulaner Oktoberfest Maizen
(6% alc. by volume)
Haha. I love the label on this one: rows of women in skirts carrying fistfuls of beer mugs. This is definitely a German beer, and it’s brewed in Munich. Once just a seasonal beer, this Oktoberfest can now be enjoyed year-round.
Impressions: Where the St. George’s Oktoberfest was sparkly and crisp, Paulaner’s is dark and heavy with earthy flavors of nuts, grass and wheat. It’s heavy on the malt taste and left me feeling full.
Capital Brewery Oktoberfest
(5.5% alc. by volume)
I’d never even heard of Capital Brewery before I picked this beer up. I’ll admit it was sort of a random grab and I almost passed it up entirely. I’m always hearing good things about a lot of Wisconsin breweries, so I figured this was my chance!
Impressions: Another unbelievably average Oktoberfest. This was definitely the first of the bunch where I picked up on the fruity flavors the most (I would definitely say apple). But it wasn’t a very robust flavor profile, and I noticed that I was sipping it almost robotically instead of truly enjoying it. I also realized what was missing most from my Oktoberfest picks this year: No imports. I think my grand lesson is to pick an imported Oktoberfest brew if you have the option!
BONUS: Dogfish Head Punkin Ale
(7% alc. by volume)
This isn’t an Oktoberfest-style brew, but it’s seasonal, no doubt. True to the description on the label, this brown ale is brewed with pumpkin meat, brown sugar and spices. Dogfish Head is widely available in the U.S. To see if it’s available in your area, consult this distribution list.
Impressions: Everything you need to know about the taste of this pumpkin ale is on the label. It’s got all of the flavors of pumpkin pie: cinnamon, nutmeg, brown sugar, almond and just a touch of yeast. The taste is very smooth and somewhat sweet. This is autumn in a bottle. Delicious!