Sunday, September 11, 2011

Hello Fall Seasonals! - Berkshire Brewing's Oktoberfest Lager

It’s my favorite time of year. For beer that is. Labor Day is in the books and the unofficial beginning of Autumn has begun. That means brewers across the world are now unleashing their Fall seasonal beers - märzens/oktoberfests, pumpkin ales – they’re all delicious to me. Some more than others, but my beer palate is easy to please at this time of year. I’ll be reviewing a handful of them this season, and up first is Berkshire Brewing’s Oktoberfest lager.

Berkshire Brewing, in South Deerfield Massachusetts, is in the zone between Summer and Fall. I find their Summer seasonal, “Czech Pilsner”, to be stellar. But the greatness doesn’t stop there. As September rolls in I find their Oktoberfest Lager on the shelves. Between those 2 beers, I’m not sure which I like more.

Taking a closer look at their Oktoberfest, it’s rusty copper in color, with an off-white head that laces well.  The aroma showcases a sweeter malt than one would expect for the style. Most märzens have a sweeter malt profile, but Berkshire’s kicks it up a notch. Caramel and brown sugar come to mind immediately. I also didn’t expect to get esters of pumpkin in the aroma, as beers with characteristics of pumpkin are typically have the word “pumpkin” in their name.

Letting a few gulps roll on my tongue, I get a dominant flavor of brown-sugar malts. Notes of pumpkin and banana are present with a touch of hops. And there’s an underlying breadiness to it all. Its medium-to-bold body is another area that helps set it apart from other oktoberfests.

Definitely one of the tastier oktoberfest lagers out there, and it's my wife's favorite for the style. Is it a traditional märzen/oktoberfest? Essentially, no. The volume on the malt profile is turned up and beyond where other märzens lie. It’s as if it pays homage to the best characteristic of a traditional märzen by exaggerating it, and it's a successfully creative take on the style. But, what is traditional about it is that it’s brewed with appropriate German hops and yeasts, and also because it’s aged for months before release. (Traditional märzens are brewed in March, and aged until oktoberfest season in Setpember.)  If you like maltier beers and fall spices, I encourage you to run to the store for this one.

Grade: B+

Berkshire Brewing Company Inc.
Berkshire Oktoberfest Lager
Märzen / Oktoberfest |  6.80% ABV

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