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Monday, September 30, 2013

Revolution Brewery's Oktoberfest

  • Style: Marzen/ Oktoberfest lager
  • ABV: 5.7%
  • Season: Autumn (um, what part of the name aren't you getting???)
  • Ease to locate: Revolution distributes to a good portion of Illinois and some of Ohio.  I bought my six pack at Mariano's Grocery store, so they are easy enough to locate if you look.  Here's a link to their beer finder
  • Color: Clear amber with slight oaky & copper tones.  Very clear.
  • Head: 2 fingers of of light ivory fluffy foam that dissipates to a spotty film.  Delicate lacing.
  • Aroma: Very subdued.  Toasted malt, grains and a bit of spice (maybe anise)
  • Mouthfeel: Medium with decent carbonation
  • Finish: Moderate to almost long.  The earthy hop presence lingers on the tail. 
  • Food friendly: Sure.  It's a lager, after all.  You can go traditional with German food & grilled sausages or mix it up a bit with braised lamb shanks.  Pair it with (again) something traditional like Wisconsin Brick cheese or refine it with a bit of Gouda & Gruyere on a plate.

I've come to the conclusion that there are two kinds of people in this world: those who like pumpkin beer and those who have active taste buds.  I feel the same way about people who watch Dancing With the Stars, so draw your own conclusions.  Personally, when the crispness of the Autumn wind blows through the changing leaves, carrying on it the scent of apple cider donuts and popcorn balls (yes, I do live in a Roald Dahl novel.  Why do you ask?)  my mind starts to wander to Oompah bands and grown men dressed in suede leather shorts (puts a whole new spin on the Roald Dalh thing now, doesn't it?)  I love trying new Oktoberfest beers, especially from breweries that I already like.  So you can imaging my excitement when my brother brought over a six pack of Revolution Brewery's latest seasonal offering, Oktoberfest

For my fellow Apple usuers out there, the link to the YouTube video is here. Two words for you. Lederhose city.
 I have to wonder just who's idea that bit with the logging saw was?  Thankfully, there didn't seem to have any audience participation.

I love Oktoberfest beers, which is slightly odd because I'm not really much of a lager girl to begin with.  I think it stems from one of my very first positive experiences with beer.  I was at the Munich Oktoberfest a little less than a decade ago on a holiday.  I'm not really sure what I expected to experience there, but it certainly wasn't what I found.  Basically, Oktoberfest was just an American state fair that served it's sausages in a bun rather than on a stick.  There was a carny run midway, tacky souvenir booths and overpriced food stands every few feet.  The unique aspect was that you needed to pre-reserve a spot in these giant beer tents (actually temporary wooden structures that resemble giant barns) if wanted a drink.  Inside was small band, the sort you might find at a wedding held at the local VFW (our's seemed to have some sort of obsession with The Chicken Dance.  They played it at least three times.  On the tuba.  I hid under the long communal table at least three times too.  Total coincidence.) You ordered a one size fits all dinner and were served beer by the stereotypical lederhosen clad German barmaid right out of central casting.  What I found surprising was that you could only purchase and drink the beer inside these tents.  I guess in my Cinema educated head, the beer at something like this would flow free like the Danube.  But it was there in that acoustically challenged, not nearly ventilated enough for Europe, beer tent that I had my very first taste of a beer that I found delicious.  Up to that point in my life, I was strictly a wine geek.  But while hoisting a stein of beer that was nearly as big as my head (and we Cummins' are known to sport noggins of extraordinary size) I had a revelation that helped to shape my life going forward.  Beer could taste good! Who knew?  (OK, you can put your arms down.)

So ein schöner Anblick

My Revolution Oktoberfest  poured an extremely clear amber liquid.  There were slight oak and gold tints to the beer around the edging when held to the light.  A generous two finger, just off white head formed.  The carbonation produced a nice mixture of large, spacious bubbles as well as tight, baby ones.  The head very quickly settled and dissipated to a spotty shallow film after a minute or two.  Delicate bits of lacing crept up the sides of the pint.  I was disappointed in the aroma right away.  It was very subtle and difficult to find, even after letting the beer open a bit.  I could smell some toasty grains and a whiff of caramel malts.  I think I might have detected a hint of spice, possibly anise, but it was so slight that I'm still not certain if I just imagined it.  The taste was a bit bolder thankfully.  It was easy to find the sweetness from the caramel malt backbone, which was offset by the bitterness of  a woody and an earthy set of hops.  The highly resilient Barvarian grown Hallertauer Hersbrucker hops were used in brewing this lager and it was showcased well in the flavor profile. A spiciness (most likely the anise from the nose as well as a hint of cloves) was layered in under the malt & grain notes, giving this lager the depth I was searching for in the aroma.  The mouthfeel was typical for a lager, moderate, smooth and easy to drink.  I liked that the finish was mild and stuck with me for longer than I expected.  Most lagers have a finish that I just don't care for, but Revolution's stayed balanced for the most part until the tail, where the bitterness of the Nobel hops took center stage for once final chorus.

Oktoberfest /Marzen beers are unique to their season, something that you can't really say about many other brews.  Sure, most people enjoy their stouts and porters in the cooler months and Bock beers are always welcome come Springtime.  But you can walk into most craft stores and purchase a decent stout in the middle of August if you so prefer.  And I don't know about you, but I'm not really bothered by the idea of imbibing a glass of my favorite Bock in November if the mood strikes me.  Pouring a pint of an Oktoberfest, even a very good one, outside of the Autumn months just seems....wrong.  Like Miley Cyrus sort of insanity wrong.   When pairing Revolution's Oktoberfest with food, I'd take my cues from the season (just as that Liam Hemsworth should have taken his cues from the rest of humanity.)  You could certainly play it safe by slapping a few brats on the grill and calling it a day.  You could also stick with tradition and bake some deliciously salty homemade soft pretzels (this is an amazing recipe and not nearly as difficult as you might expect), much like the ones I was served in the Munich beer tent.  But why not go a bit bolder?  Try meal of  lamb shanks with sweet potato & roasted chanterelles rissotto and serrano vinegar sauce for a special dinner one crisp evening.  What you wear to the table is your own business and no one else. I only ask that if you do go with the lederhosen, please make sure that you actually have the legs for them.