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Wednesday, September 19, 2012

American Craft Oktoberfestbier doubleheader!

Last time we took a look at the current reality of "true" Oktoberfestbier and the "legend" of Oktoberfestbier. It is the legend that has heavily influence the American craft scene in regards to their views of märzen. Let's dive into a few examples to see the interpretation. 

Left Hand Brewing Oktoberfest
Brewed by Left Hand Brewing out of Longmont, Colorado, their Oktoberfest poured a clear, dark, amber color with minimal head. It has fair carbonation and on the drink it is hoppy and bitter with little of the toffee malt flavor you would expect. In fact on the first taste I was slightly taken aback on how bitter this actually was. The bitterness yields as you continue to drink but it never fully backs down, staying ever present even through the aftertaste. The toffee flavors and a slight sweetness start to emerge from the background as the beer warms but they aren't able to balance the märzen as they should. This is a beer out of balance with too much bitterness overriding everything else. If you prefer a bitter tasting beer then this is worth checking out. Overall I'm glad I tried this but it is doubtful I will come back to it. Left Hand Oktoberfest comes in at 6.6% ABV.

Here is the "party line" from Left Hand Brewing:

"This is no festivus for the restuvus - on the contrary - we start brewing in the Spring and it takes a full two months to reach lagered perfection.Biscuity, malty goodness dominates upfront while the noble pedigree hops lend a properly spicy, dry finish. Zicke zacke, zicke zacke, hoi, hoi, hoi. Time to roast your chicken and upend your stein before the air gets crisp, the leaves flame and fall and the skies fade to black. Auf geht's!"

Stegmaier Oktoberfest

Brewed by the Lion Brewery out of Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, Stegmaier Oktoberfest poured a clear, golden amber color with a small white head that slowly collapsed into a film across the top of the beer. On the drink this beer reveals that it is slim, with little body. It is light in ways that a märzen shouldn't be. All the characteristics are present, the hoppiness, the toffee flavors, the sweetness, but it seems they have been diluted and aren't as pronounced as you would expect them to be. It finishes very quickly, with little aftertaste. Long story short this is a gateway beer for märzen style brews, as an entry point for novices this will work well, but more experienced beer drinkers this will quickly pass by. It comes in at a surprising well masked 6% ABV.

Here is the "party line" on Stegmaier Oktoberfest:

"In recognition of our German heritage, we proudly present you with our Stegmaier Oktoberfest Beer. Traditionally known as Marzen, it boasts a brilliant reddish-brown color and full-body for the true beer drinker. In Using a blend of Munich, Vienna, and Aromatic malts, Stegmaier Oktoberfest possesses a light-toasted character with a touch of sweetness. The addition of German hops adds a perfect balance of flavor, which is sure to be enjoyed by the most sophisticated palate. We hope you enjoy. Prost!"

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