Nick Carr on September 10, 2018 0 Comments Photo Credit: Sierra Nevada Brewing Quick Characteristics Brewery Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. Location Chico, CA Style Oktoberfest (Marzen) ABV 6.0% IBU 20 Hops Sterling, Spalter, Record Malts Two-Row Pale, Steffi, Pilsner, Munich Shelf Life 3 to 6 Months Suggested Glass Mug Serving Temp 42-46°F Availability Fall Seasonal (Limited) Food Pairings German Weisswurst Sausage, Roast Pork, Butterkase, Apple Strudel w/ fresh whipped cream (Brewery recommendation) Fall seems to be coming on early up here in the Mountains of New Mexico. The mornings bring a faint whisper of that signature crispness of Autumn. The days remain sunny and warm, but step into the shade and there’s a sneaky coolness. It’s just as well that Sierra Nevada has released their Oktoberfest for the year. The crispness is here, may as well start looking for a beer to match. I’ve started to look forward to Sierra Nevada’s collaborative Oktoberfest every year. The year 2018 marks the third year in a row that I’ve reviewed their Oktoberfest (2016 & 2017). It’s always exciting and interesting to see who they’ll collaborate with and what subtle differences it will bring to the beer. This year’s collaborative partner, Weihenstephan, isn’t too surprising since the two recently worked on the Braupakt wheat beer together. Braupakt was a pleasant surprise when I reviewed it. It was a fantastic traditional wheat beer, and this is coming from a guy whose “go-to beer” is definitely not wheat’s, with just a touch of “newness” contributed by American hops. For Braupakt, Sierra Nevada went to Weihenstephan’s brewery in Bavaria, for the Oktoberfest Weinstephan came to the United States. If you look back at last year’s version, you’ll notice the exact same malts are used in this year’s (though likely in different proportions). The hop varieties have been cut in half, however, and the IBUs have dropped. Last year, German Magnum, Palisade, German Record, Saphir, and Crystal were all used. This year they opted for a much simpler bill, only using Sterling, Spalter, and Record hops. The beer packs a label, similar to the 2016 release, even down to the blue and white diamond pattern. The back of the bottle sports a brief description of the beer: “We’ve partnered with Bavaria’s Weihenstephan, the world’s oldest brewery, for this American take on the classic German Oktoberfest. A malt backbone is balanced by subtle hop character in this crisp, clean, and drinkable, crowd-pleaser — nothing captures the spirit of celebration like a beer among friends.” Let’s crack it open and see what “the spirit of celebration” tastes like. THE TASTING Below are the tasting notes I took while drinking the 2018 edition of Sierra Nevada’s Oktoberfest. If you tasted this beer or have one in front of you as you read this review, please share your thoughts with everyone down in the comments below. The Pour: It pours a bright, warm amber color. Carbonation is medium, you can hear it crackling in the glass as the stream of bubbles hit the surface. Clarity is superb. Head is an off-white, big bubbled cap of foam rising to about a finger and a half. Retention is good. The Aroma: Right on the nose, the aroma is a mix of big, warming bready and toasty malts. I catch the whiff of some low fruit esters. The hops are subtle, but add a quiet note of floral hay and spiciness. The Mouthfeel: Body is a sizeable medium-full. Carbonation is a low-medium. This gives the beer a soft feel on the palate, and really allowing the malty roundness to sink in and get comfortable; unhurried and warming. Just bare hints of astringency. The Taste: Very malt forward. Nice low-honey sweetness accompanies the bread, crust, and toastiness; combining for a pleasant warming (homey?) sensation. Hints of caramel. Mild bitterness drops in mid-palate and plays until the finish. Finish is semi-dry, leaving a lightly spicy caramel-bread aftertaste. FINISHING THOUGHTS Aahhh, now I’m officially ready for the crisp weather. I’ll just sit on the porch sipping this malty Oktoberfest and watch the leaves slowly change to the same color as this beer. It’s a good one and, to my taste at least, the maltiest Oktoberfest I’ve reviewed from Sierra Nevada. The description on the back of the bottle is pretty spot on: malty backbone (), subtle hop character (), drinkable (). The 2018 version of Sierra Nevada’s Oktoberfest is not gonna surprise you in any way. There’s nothing really experimental or new here. So, if that’s what you’re looking for, something off-the-normal Oktoberfest, best steer that shopping cart right past this one. But, if you’re simply looking for a well-built, solid, heavily malt driven, pleasantly warming vehicle for your bratwurst as the days turn crisp, well, then this is your beer. Let me know your thoughts below. Cheers!