In many areas of the country, the Sam Adams Octoberfest* is the easiest to find of the style. It’s not the best, but it isn’t bad, and it will give you a basic idea of what to expect when having an Oktoberfest beer.
With that preamble, here it is:
Name: Sam Adams Octoberfest
Origin: Boston Beer Company (Sam Adams), Boston, MA
IBU: not listed
I drank this: on tap at Old Chicago, OP, KS
This tastes like a Sam Adams lager-style beer. What I mean by this is simple. Certain breweries have hallmark tastes to all their beers -some sort of flavor, be it in the beer or the aftertaste, that is identical in nearly every beer that company makes. Free State in Lawrence, KS is one of those breweries – everything has a certain sort of sharp “Free State beer” flavor that makes me think that they’ve got a similar malt profile in many of their beers. Sam Adams is another one of those breweries, at least to my taste buds. Everything they brew in any sort of lager style always ends up reminding me of their Boston Lager. The Octoberfest is no exception.
This beer is a warm orange-amber color, with a light and fast-disappearing head. The scent is all malty biscuits with a hint of something warm and spicy in the background. It has a thick and creamy mouthfeel, the sort of feeling that makes it soft and pleasant to sip on. The flavor is malt-heavy like it should be, with bread-y/biscuit-y flavors and a slight hit of honey-like sweetness, plus that distinct Sam Adams flavor that is indescribable except to say “Sam Adams” – roughly like dark bread with a sourdough kick.
The aftertaste is what holds me back from raving over this beer. The scent is nice, the flavor is fine, the mouthfeel is excellent. The aftertaste, however, is described in my tasting notes as “salty, sour, old.” In my experience, a bad aftertaste will do one of two things: it will either push you through the pint quicker, because actively drinking prevents the occurrence of the aftertaste, or it will ruin the entire beer. This is a “must drink faster” type of aftertaste – it’s not so unpleasant as to ruin it, but it’s not something I want sticking around, either.
If you can get it, try a Boulevard Bob’s 47 instead. If you can’t, or you can’t find an Oktoberfest from any other small craft brewer, then go for the Sam Adams version. It’ll be readily available for the next two months.
*They spell it like this – it isn’t a typo or anything on my part. I don’t quite get why they needed to Anglicize the spelling on a famously German-style beer, but I’m not their marketing department.