Now that we are fully into the fall I’ve finally turned over my beer fridge, the lighter summer beers are mostly gone and the fridge is stocked with darker, heavier and maltier offerings. Marzen/Oktoberfest beers aren’t the kind of beers I want to drink year round, but it’s nice to go on a run of malt forward offerings every fall and give my palate a break from hop-bombs I tend towards. Traditional marzens are lager beers, fermented for longer times at lower temperatures resulting in a smooth and clean flavor. This can be a limitation for small breweries, many don’t have the proper equipment to lager their beer or can’t afford to tie up a fermenter for the required amount of time. Castle Island found a creative way around this limitation, designing an malt forward ale that closely resembles the Oktoberfest lagers many older breweries are releasing this fall. Castle Island Festbier is available not on draft and in 16 oz. tallboy cans.
Castle Island Festbier pours deep orange with a small white head. The scent is mild, just a little malt and a hint of old world hops. The first thing you notice when you taste the beer is that it’s on the light side for an Oktoberfest, I usually expect my fest biers to have a pretty full body. At 4.6% ABV it’s also lower in alcohol than most, a session beer by many definitions. Festbier still packs full malt flavor, notes of caramel, biscuits and honey. This is complemented by noticeable hop flavor, earthy and grassy with a crisp finish. The beer is brewed with ale yeast but you wouldn’t know it, it has the crisp and clean flavor you’d expect from a lager. Castle Island Festbier is different from any other Oktoberfest I’ve tried, but that isn’t a bad thing, it’s a well made and flavorful beer. Hoppy Boston score: 4.0/5.
Previous Castle Island Reviews: