3.5AROMA 7/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 6/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 14/20
I like dark beers, craft beers, seasonal beers and beers produced by smaller breweries since they tend to be higher in quality. Considering all these things you would think Samuel Adams’ Octoberfest would be right up my alley. I’ve had it many times over the years on tap during the autumn season and thought it was a nice alternative to all the mass-market junk offered, but it never left much of an impression. It’s certainly drinkable and a nice change of pace, but it’s not nearly as good as it should be.
POUR, COLOR AND AROMA
Sometimes the pour can make or break a beer for me. Sam Adams’ Octoberfest has one of the most attractive appearances I’ve ever seen. It’s a beautiful, clear shade of dark copper and brownish-red. It forms a rather small, off-white, soapy head which leaves no lacing on the glass and quickly dissipates.
The aroma is a little underwhelming. Usually, seasonal beers are distinct in their scent but Octoberfest has a fairly generic, but slightly sweeter “beer smell” with a hint of spices.
I know that dark beers are intended to be drunk at warmer temperatures, but it doesn’t always have a major effect on the taste. However, with Sam Adams’ Octoberfest a few degrees can go quite a long way.
My first taste right out of the fridge was that of a watered-down craft beer. It sure didn’t taste like a generic lager, but I couldn’t detect much of a stylized taste, either. In retrospect, this is how Octoberfest always struck me all those years at the bars and restaurants since the majority of them have a tendency to serve their beers ice cold.
I decided to give the beer another chance and let my second glass sit for a significant amount of time so that it would be cool instead of cold and the difference in flavor was obvious. Now that I could finally taste the beer as it’s meant to be drunk I picked up on a palate of vanilla and malts. In fact, it’s not too far from being a porter because of its malty, roasty and almost smoky character. The best way to describe it would be that of rum which has been extremely watered-down.
Octoberfest certaintly isn’t the smoothest offering by the Boston Beer Company, but it does have a clean finish for a beer with such character and weight.
Weighing in at 165 calories per 12 oz serving, Octoberfest is quite a heavy beer. A mistake people tend to make is drinking this beer with a meal, something I’ve done many times over the years. Sure, it’s fun to drink a seasonal beer when you’re out on the town, but this particular one really leaves an impact. I remember being so full after only a few pints and not understanding why. Even drinking two bottles at home I can distinctly feel its weight. Considering how relatively weak the flavor is, it’s hard to understand why this beer is so hefty.
I’ve never sat down and carefully analyzed Samuel Adams Octoberfest until now and I realize why I was never really impressed with this beer. Basically, the flavor is a little weak and I’ve always drank it entirely too cold. However, even under ideal conditions I still found the drink to be underwhelming.