Nick Carr on September 12, 2016 0 Comments Quick Characteristics Brewery Firestone Walker Brewing Location Paso Robles, CA Style Marzën ABV 5.0% IBU 24 Hops German Hallertau Malts German Pilsner, German Vienna, German Munich, German CaraHell, German CaraRed Shelf Life Best within 3 months of bottling date Suggested Glass Stein or Mug Serving Temp 46-50°F Availability Seasonal – Late August thru October Food Pairings Sausage w/ Sauerkraut, Pork Cutlets w/ Boiled Potatoes, Emmental Cheese, Caramel Flan Firestone Walker Brewing Company is much better known for their ales than lager. In fact, they are only brewing two of them at the present time… as far as I’m aware, this Oaktoberfest and a hoppy Pilsner called PIVO; despite the interesting fact that their brewery was designed with lagers in mind. First, let’s get the confusion dealt with, although the name may make you think otherwise, and Firestone Walker is known for conditioning their beer on oak, this Marzën — or at least the ones you’re gonna find in stores — has not seen oak of any kind. The name Oaktoberfest is tribute to the brewery’s home town El Paso de Robles, which translates to “The Pass of the Oaks.” Some of the beer actually does find its way into oak barrels. In a nod to tradition 65 gallon oak barrels are filled, transported by horse and wagon to the annual Madonna Inn Oktoberfest on October 1st, and ceremonially tapped to start the celebrations. Sounds like a good time. If you’re somewhere close on the West Coast I’d think long and hard about joining the festivities! Shop for Firestone Walker Gear on Amazon Ok, back to the beer at hand. This “Paso Marzën Bier” is a seasonal draft stable for the brewery every Fall season, but this year marks only the second year it has actually been packaged and offered to a wider audience. This year’s packaging is new; a 4-pack of handsome blue/white checkered 16oz. can. The checkering matches the Bavarian flag and is meant to pay homage to the origins of Oktoberfest. According to Head Brewer Matt Brynildson it is brewed with all German ingredients. All the malt comes from Weyermann malting company. A close to 50/50 mix of Pilsner/Vienna make up the bulk of the grain bill with Munich, CaraHell, and CaraRed bringing subtle character to the whole. The hops are true German Hallertau and the beer is hopped to the upper limit of the style guidelines at 24 IBU. The yeast is supposedly Augustiner from the famous Augustiner Brewery in Munich and the beer is lagered for 5 to 6 weeks. THE TASTING Below are the tasting notes I took while drinking Oaktoberfest from Firestone Walker. If you’ve tasted this beer or are enjoying one as you read this, please share your thoughts, opinions or tasting notes with everyone down in the comments below. Pour and Aroma: Oaktoberfest falls into the glass a deep copper-tinged golden color. Its clarity is superb and carbonation is medium. Foam forms a mountainous three-finger ivory head, which dissipates over a couple minutes to a much less boisterous centimeter or two. Aromas of grainy malt and grassy/herbal hops rise up to greet the inquisitive nose. Malt is of a sweet grainy character, hinting at honeyed bread, bread crust, toast, and light biscuit. Hops play a nice second fiddle with a dried grass, slight earthiness. Mouthfeel and Taste: Body is a round and full medium, sits rounded and weighty, but not heavy. Little alcohol presence and grassy hop spice, accentuated by the zippy carbonation. Has inviting honey-like malt sweetness at the front; notes of bread and light toast, maybe a hint of biscuit. Spicy hops at mid-palate offer a balancing counter position to the malt sweetness; nicely grassy and herbal. Finish is clean with a medium-dry, but lively, crispness. Aftertaste is pleasantly clean and balanced, a compendium of the beer; let’s call it a spicy sweetness. FINISHING THOUGHTS It may not be completely traditional in its presentation, but I’d have to put it up there as one of the best lighter versions of the Marzën style I’ve had the pleasure of drinking. The honeyed malt character and brighter hops may run slightly contrary to the style, but they sure are tasty! It has more characteristic malt flavors than the 2016 Sierra Nevada Oktoberfest and a very easygoing but noticeable hop presence. I also liked the lower ABV. Style guidelines have the ABV starting at 5.8% and hiking up to 6.3% at the high end. But Firestone Walker took a lower road, brewing an easier drinking 5.0%, making it possible to stretch Oktoberfest celebrations a little longer. I highly recommend making this one of your Oktoberfest samplers. Cheers!