I can’t believe October is almost over. I really can’t believe it is late October and I’ve yet to review an Oktoberfest beer. One of the most popular fall seasonal beers is the marzen, the malty lager that is one of the traditional beers of the German Oktoberfest celebration. Marzen beers used to be a fall staple for small brewers, I was introduced to the concept of seasonal releases by Sam Adams take on the style. The combined popularity of hop bombs and pumpkin beers has slowed the growth of the marzen style. Another issue that American brewers have run into is authenticity, too many American marzens are overly sweet. Sierra Nevada clearly wanted to make their Oktoberfest as authentic as possible, so they decided to brew a marzen as a collaboration with a different brewery in Germany each fall. The first beer in this series was brewed with Brauhaus Riegele in Augsburg and released this fall. Sierra Nevada Oktoberfest 2015 is available on draft and in 12 oz. bottles this fall, the beer will be a completely new recipe with a different German brewery next year!
Sierra Nevada Oktoberfest 2015 pours a clear deep orange with a minimal white head. The scent features a solid hit of caramelized malted barley. The beer is clearly malt forward, but not overkill, notes of caramel, fresh baked bread and honey. This is balanced by some mild noble hops, grassy and earthy with some crisp bite in the finish. The beer is medium bodied with a clean lager profile, but packs a little punch at 6% ABV. While many American takes of the marzen/Oktoberfest style are so malt forward that they approach cloying, Sierra Nevada manages to achieve full malt flavor while maintaining balance and drinkability. This is one of the best versions of the marzen style I’ve tried, definitely worth checking out. Hoppy Boston score: 4.5/5.
Previous Sierra Nevada Reviews: