Nick Carr on October 4, 2017 1 Comment Quick Characteristics Brewery Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. Location Chico, CA Style Festbier ABV 6.1% IBU 30 Hops German Magnum, Tettnanger, German Select, Spalter Malts Two-row Pale, Steffi, Pilsner, Munich Shelf Life 3 to 6 months Suggested Glass Stein Serving Temp 42-46°F Availability Fall Seasonal (Limited) Food Pairings Roast Pork, German Weisswurst Sausage, Mild Cheddar, Butterkase, Apple Strudel w/ fresh whipped cream (From Sierra Nevada) Oktoberfest kinda snuck up on me this year. In the midst of buying a house and moving I didn’t afford it my usual consideration, thus only a single oktoberfest review, and that, almost too late. For on its heels comes the bright colors and cooling nip of a season in change and with it; Halloween, Fall Seasonals, and of course, one or two pumpkin beers. But I get ahead of myself. Before looking ahead to the frightful, I’ll sit down here for a minute and raise a glass to the celebrations. Two lager styles are linked to Oktoberfest — Festbier and Märzen. Festbier is the newer and lighter — in every sense — of the two styles and has taken the Märzens’ place at the modern German celebrations. Interestingly, the U.S. hasn’t quite followed suit. Märzen tends to be more popular in the U.S. than the Festbier. I personally find merit in both styles. Though, I do prefer the deeper, slightly darker depths and flavors of a well executed Märzen, Festbier has its own charm. Sierra Nevada is in the midst of a unique set of Oktoberfest collaborations. Every year, they are in their third year, they collaborate with a different German brewery to come up with a new rendition of this seasonal brew. The Best-Selling Sierra Nevada Glassware & T-Shirts The first year they teamed up with Bauhaus Riegele, and last year they partnered with Mahrs Bräu (you can read my review here). For 2017, they invited the good folks of Brauhaus Miltenberger to bring their 363 years of experience and tradition to the project. I always like to look at the ingredients and see how they have changed between years. Interestingly the ingredients – both the malts and hops – are exactly the same as those used in 2015. No doubt the ingredient amounts between the two recipes differ somewhat, but it’s likely the yeast is the standout element making this year’s rendition unique. Cornelius Faust, fourth generation brewmaster for Brauhaus Miltenberger, says “this beer was based on our own festive recipes. We have adapted it to the American consumer expectations with 14 percent of original wort, 6.1 percent alcohol, and 30 bittering unites.” He goes on to say, “the bottom fermented yeast is the same as we use for our festivals.” In an OrovilleMR News piece by Risa Johnson, Ken Gossman, founder of Sierra Nevada, gave some insight into how they pick their collaboration partners. He says, “It’s a very small traditional brewery. We’ve picked small brewers around the country who are renowned for their unique styles as well as their tradition and their willingness to partner with a small American brewery to make a unique beer.” THE TASTING Below are the tasting notes I took while drinking Sierra Nevada’s 2017 Oktoberfest. If you’ve tasted this beer or have a pint in front of you now, please share your thoughts with everyone down in the comments below. Pour and Aroma: It pours a rich, bronze-tinged golden color. Head is big bubbled and pillowy, off-white, rising to two fingers. Retention is minimal, though the thick ropes of carbonation streaming off the bottom keep the surface active. Not much lacing. Aroma is of honeyed grain, light caramel and lightly doughy bread, with an edge of light toast. Also hints of floral notes and a nice subtle kick of spice. Mouthfeel and Taste: Body is medium-light. Mouthfeel is zippy, pulling it along with excited carbonation, and adding to the perceived dryness. Taste follows aroma pretty well. Malty sweetness at the front coming through as honey-like and slightly toasty, with light grain flavors. Light breadness transitions mid-palate with a slight play at bitterness and spice doing just enough to even things. The spiceness remains into the end, but is joined by light caramel sweetness before hitting a semi-dry finish. Aftertaste is of light bitterness and spice. FINISHING THOUGHTS This is a nice beer; complex, yet very drinkable. The malty backbone brings caramel and light toast. This, along with the subtly soft sweetness, spritely carbonation, and drying finish all combine to create a festive experience for the palate. From what little I can recall of last year’s entry, I’d have to say I like this one more. If you haven’t gotten enough of the Oktoberfest celebrations I’d suggest you get out the door and grab this one before its season as ended.