This beer isn’t beginning the posting of Oktoberfest reviews, because, name aside, it isn’t actually an Oktoberfest. It’s a golden ale. I’ll do my Oktoberfest reviewing in September, as is only proper.
Name: Hoptober Golden Ale
Origin: New Belgium Brewing Inc., Fort Collins, CO
Style: American Blonde Ale
I drank this: on tap at Old Chicago, OP – they just got it in this week
This beer is New Belgium’s Autumn Seasonal. It’s a light enough beer that it doesn’t quite strike me as a fall beer – I tend to think of fall beers as being a bit maltier/heavier – but as a transition from Summer to Autumn, this beer is absolutely right where it should be. It’s light and bright enough that it works for the heat of August, but there’s just enough warmth to serve as a reminder that the Summer heat is (thankfully) going to be leaving us soon-ish.
For a golden ale, I was pretty convinced this was a lager style when I first got to try it. The malts follow a pretty standard pale malt flavor profile – light and drinkable, but not clamoring for too much attention. There’s nothing jarring or off here. Just nice, clean light malts.
Hop-wise, these are ‘bite’ hopes more than flavor hops. What I mean by this is that the hops feel sharp on the tongue – they don’t so much lend a citrus/piney taste as they lend a particular mouthfeel. This is a feeling I usually find in good American Red Ales. Anyway, the hops in the Hoptober also lend a bitter flavor that shows up mostly in the aftertaste. It isn’t an overwhelmingly hoppy beer to drink – with an IBU at 40, it’s less hoppy than some pale ales. There’s also a hint of warmth hiding in the beer somewhere – nothing I can quite name (this isn’t a heavy clove hit or anything) – just something slightly warming. It may be that I noticed the alcohol more than I might have were the malts darker.
What the hops do add here is a really incredible scent. This is another “beer that I’d like in perfume form, please” – there’s a gorgeous sweet citrus/sweet herbal nose with just a hint of the malts for base notes. I would order this beer again for the smell alone. Gorgeous.
Possible food pairing: some kind of citrus marinated chicken, or chicken with an apricot glaze. I wouldn’t do anything too spicy, because spicy food would overwhelm this beer.