Every year I look forward to seeing Sam Adams Octoberfest hit local shelves. To me it signals the end of a long, hot summer and the anticipation of the upcoming football season. Nothing says “Are you ready for some football?” like the familiar orange label with the Americanized spelling of Oktoberfest. There are certainly better examples of the style (Ayinger Oktober Fest- Märzen, for example), but Sam Adams consistently produces a high-quality, low-cost, and (most importantly) tasty beer that can be purchased anywhere in the U.S.
Technically, Octoberfest is a Märzen. Märzen is a German style lager known for its rich, malty flavor profile, low hop bittering, and moderate ABV. It was traditionally brewed in March to coincide with the end of the brewing season, and then placed in cold storage over the summer months to mature. The term Oktoberfest is synonymous with the style because the beer’s annual release became associated with Munich’s famous fall festival of the same name.
I recently picked up a case of Sam Adams Octoberfest at my local Sam’s Club. I wasn’t shopping for beer on that particular trip, but seeing Octoberfest for the first time this season was enough to cause an impulse buy! Back home, I chilled the beer for several hours before sampling. Pouring the bottle into a stemmed glass yielded a crystal clear, copper-colored beer with a 1″ head of off-white foam. The color was brilliant when held up to the light. The aroma was toasty and biscuit-like with a touch of hops in the background. I took a sip of the beer and found the same toasty and biscuit-like qualities on the palate that I had found in the nose, but now joined by a mild sweetness and subtle toffee character. Tettnanger, Hallertau, and Mittelfrueh hops used in the brewing process provided enough hop presence to balance the beer nicely.
At 5.3% ABV, Sam Adams Octoberfest is crisp, flavorful, and highly drinkable. It is a beer that pairs nicely with many traditional tailgating foods such as bratwursts, dry-rubbed ribs, and grilled pork loin. Octoberfest won’t necessarily blow your mind, but it’s consistently good year-to-year and makes a nice companion on a cool late summer/early fall evening…or at a Razorback tailgate (Go Hogs!).