I was inspired by Erin’s blog to taste-test some Oktoberfest beers. When I read her blog post, it was one of those slap-myself-in-the-forehead moments:
I’ve been blogging about Oktoberfest and Bavaria. Check.
Beer is a big part of Oktoberfest. Check.
I like beer. Check!
That leaves me with no excuse to skip out on the beer sampling fun. (I get stuck in rut with some things — I have beers that I like and stick to them.)
So, a thank you to Erin for inspiring me to branch out of my beer comfort zone. Please go check out her blog and see what she thought of the beers she tried out: Schells Oktoberfest and Summit Oktoberfest. Also, I very much recommend her post Seat 6E, about the consequences of not taking risks. It spoke to me as I work toward my dream to be a full-time writer.
Now for my sampling. I tried out 3 beers this past weekend: Hofbräu Oktoberfest, Samuel Adams Octoberfest, and Shiner Oktoberfest. Before I get into my reviews, first let me say that I’m by no means a professional beer taster. Just a guy trying out some brews.
Of course I had to try this one when I saw it in the store! It’s from the Hofbräuhaus, the brewery and very old beer hall in Munich — and a little bit of my erotic novel, Bavarian Beauty, happens there. This beer is “The original brew of Bavarian kings.” And if it’s good enough for Bavarian Kings, then dammit, it’s good enough for me.
Plus, the six-pack has a dirndl babe on it:
How could I not try this??
Hofbräu Oktoberfest is the lightest of the three Oktoberfest beers that I tried — it has a nice, light golden color. Because it’s so light, I noticed the great carbonation right away, and all those little bubbles racing for the top reminded me of beer commercials, where you get hit with a super close-up of a glass of beer with those bubbles. A very nice visual to give you that part of the sensory experience. As for the taste, since this beer is light, it goes down really smoothly. Also, I picked up a slight tang to it. Not sure what it is, but it’s a nice touch.
Samuel Adams Octoberfest
The Sammy Adams Octoberfest has a beautiful amber color with a reddish hue:
Not as light as the Hofbräu, the Sammy brings a richer flavor. Maybe a slight caramel flavor? The band around the neck of the bottle gives a very brief history lesson of Oktoberfest, then adds, “Our version of the classic Oktoberfest lager blends 5 roasted malts for a rich, hearty flavor that’s perfect for the season, or whatever you’re celebrating.” So maybe those 5 roasted malts add depth to the flavor. I really liked the taste of this beer, and it held the flavor for a good while. A positive for those of us who don’t pound their beers. Pounding beer made so much more sense in college, when I couldn’t afford good beer and the taste was secondary.
The Shiner Oktoberfest was also an amber color, but not as reddish as the Samuel Adams — I’d say it was more on the orangey side.
I thought this was in the middle between the other two beers. Not as light as the Hofbräu and not as complex in flavor as the Sam Adams. But that’s not a knock on it at all, just a comparison with how it related to the others. And I also enjoyed the taste of this one. It has some of that caramel, and it goes down a little smoother than the Sam Adams. So I suppose it’s up to what you’re going after — a beer on the lighter side, or something richer in flavor, like Mr. Adams.
I did some digging into the background of Oktoberfest beers, and found that there are 6 breweries allowed to produce brews for the festival (found at Wikipedia):
- Staatliches Hofbräu-München
These guys have to keep it local to the festival and brew their wares within Munich. I like that, so you get the local flavor when you’re there imbibing the big steins of bier. The beer has to follow the “German Beer Purity Law,” or Reinheitsgebot, which started way back in 1487 and stated that just 3 ingredients be used to brew beer: water, malt, and hops. Seems like pumpkin or autumn spice ales are off the table. (Maybe keep those to when you’re on the hay ride to the pumpkin patch.)
Even though the Samuel Adams (Massachusetts) and Shiner (Texas) aren’t brewed over there in Munich, I like that non-German breweries are trying their hand at following the Oktoberfest style.