Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Category 3: Amber Lagers

Beer: Harpoon Octoberfest Beer
Category: Amber Lagers
Subcategory: Oktoberfest/Märzen

Ah, the wonderful beer that is Oktoberfestbier. Often called Märzen because it was traditionally brewed in March at the end of lager brewing season and then tapped in the fall at Oktoberfest in Munich. I have tried the most definitive versions of this style, Paulaner and Spaten, and I love them both so I thought I'd try an American example from my homeland, Boston.

Appearance: Poured from bottle into Vandy stein. Dark amber/copper colored with a nice creamy, off-white head. Hard to tell from the picture, but this beer is crystal clear, no haze or anything. Phenomenal lacing.

Aroma: caramelly malts, some definite breadiness, a little spice hanging out in the background (slightly cinnamon-like) and beautiful tones of sweetness and German lager yeast

Taste: nutty sweetness right up front, a bit like brown sugar as the beer warms, hop bitterness and some definite alcohol warmth and flavor, which is perhaps a little uncharacteristic of the style

Mouthfeel: medium body, medium carbonation, definitely chewier than the Helles and Pilsener, but a really nice drinkable in-between feel

Not too shabby of a beer! As far as American Oktoberfest beers go, I would be more inclined to reach for the Sam Adams Oktoberfest in my local liquor store, but this one is certainly very good. For 5.5% ABV, I sure do taste the alcohol quite a bit on this one. The nose is really very nice though, and the taste still enjoyable. Not my favorite within this style category, but also not my least favorite.

Personal: I am usually an ale drinker, but when I'm in the mood for a lager, I definitely tend to reach for an Oktoberfest. When made well, it is a very balanced beer that is enjoyable to drink and pairs very well with food. Through the 23 categories, this tends to be one of my go-to styles when I'm looking for something good and relatively dependable.

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