Friday, September 11, 2009

Beer Of The Week (Vol XXIII)

This week's Beer of the Week brought to you as always by Glen Lake Wine & Spirits. Their motto is "happiness is a full bottle."

Last week, I mentioned that it has been my experiences that American efforts to imitate Germany's Oktoberfest generally fall flat. There are usually a decent number of Oktoberfest events here in the Upper Midwest every year. One of if not the largest takes place in La Crosse, Wisconsin and is billed as "Oktoberfest USA."

It has been a few years since I attended La Crosse's Oktoberfest, but when I was last there in 2003 I found very little that resembled the real thing. All it really was exactly what you might expect to see on any given weekend in Wisconsin writ large. Well-fed Wisconsinites downing copious amounts of Miller Lite and stuffing their maws with brats is not exactly my idea of Oktoberfest. As I noted at the time:

In Munich, you have good beer served in one liter glasses, accompanied by roasted chicken, with traditional German music in the background.

In La Crosse, you have Miller Lite served in plastic cups, accompanied by brats, with crappy rock and roll in the background.

There are some American versions of Oktoberfest that do come much closer to capturing the original spirit. Usually they are not the big fair-like events, but rather smaller celebrations at places like Gasthof zur Gemutlichkeit in Nordeast Minneapolis. Although the venue is much smaller, the beer, music, and food at the Gasthof makes for a more genuine Oktoberfest atmosphere.

But if you can't get to Munich or even a night out in Minneapolis, you can still have your own Oktoberfest celebration. All you really need is the beer. This week we have two more Oktoberfest selections. I was able to review them concurrently (at the same time JB), which provided an opportunity for a side by side compare and contrast. While both beers are Marzens and share some similarities, there were a few notable differences as well.

First up is August Schell's Octoberfest from New Ulm, Minnesota.

Brown bottle. Attractive label featuring beer girl with flowers in her hair and big steins. With Bavarian flags set against the Schell's brewery in the background.

Beer Style: Octoberfest Marzen

Alcohol by Volume: 5.5%

COLOR (0-2): Light brownish red. 2

AROMA (0-2): Malt with hints of hop. 1

HEAD (0-2): Off-white color. Full with good lacing. 2

TASTE (0-5): Malt with light hops. Decent flavor, but not much there. 2

AFTERTASTE (0-2): A bit light. 1

OVERALL (0-6): Looks great in the glass, but comes up short in the mouth. Very drinkable, just not a lot of flavor. 3

TOTAL SCORE (0-19): 11

Next up is Samuel Adams Octoberfest from Boston.

Brown bottle with a simple standard Sam Adams label with orange border and fall leafs.

Beer Style: Octoberfest Marzen

Alcohol by Volume: 5.7%

COLOR (0-2): Clear copper. 2

AROMA (0-2): Malty but faint. 1

HEAD (0-2): Light tan color. Little lacing and fades fast. 1

TASTE (0-5): Malt with caramel with a creamy texture. 3

AFTERTASTE (0-2): Smooth finish. 2

OVERALL (0-6): Good flavor and body. It's a little more interesting than many Marzens and although I'm not a huge fan of the style I liked this beer. 4

TOTAL SCORE (0-19): 13

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