Monday, October 17, 2011

Great Lakes Oktoberfest

The REAL Oktoberfest in Germany ended about two weeks ago, but most Americans don't know that so let's review an Oktoberfest bier! I haven't had anything from the Cleveland-based Great Lakes Brewing Company in a long time and I saw this when I was down at Half Time Beverage in Poughkeepsie, so I decided to pick it up. This is the first of hopefully several Oktoberfest biers I'll review this year.

   AROMA 7/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 7/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 14/20
Chad9976 (644) - Albany, USA - OCT 14, 2011
I poured a 12oz bottle into an Oktoberfest mug.

Appearance: Dark amber/light orange color; almost crystal-clear body; an aggressive pour knocks out almost all carbonation and causes a large, frothy, beige head which laces and retains very well.

Smell: Classic lager aroma at the core but with distinct sweeter aromas of a confectionary nature. Slight sourness as well (could be because my bottle was set to expire a week later).

Taste: I’ve never been a big fan of Oktoberfest beers, German or American because we’re told they’re more than just fizzy yellow lagers but they taste so similar to what they claim they aren’t. Great Lakes Oktoberfest is one of the few American examples that actually tastes like a refined, crafted brew. Right away it imparts some confectionary sweetness of light caramel and toffee notes, followed by a quick biscuity malt backbone and accompanying bitterness. It finishes slighty dry and bitter, akin to something doughy or pasty. I can still taste the underlying lager lineage to this beer, though. Considering mine was an old bottle I’d like to believe a fresher version would be sweeter, more complex and more robust, but even as it stands it’s still pretty satisfying.

Mouthfeel: Thicker than your average lager, flatter and more comfortable too.

Drinkability: For a 6.5% ABV lager, Great Lakes Oktoberfest is surprisingly light on its toes. There’s no alcohol presence or sheer density to the palate or constitution. It seems as though it would be highly sessionable, considering its pleasant taste and drinker-friendly delivery of a comfortable mouthfeel and smooth finish. Not much to be gained with food pairing, but it wouldn’t hurt, either.
Grade: 7/10

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