Thursday, October 6, 2011

Beereview: Sam Adams Octoberfest

In my last post, I laid out the 5 Simple Rules to Choose the Right Fall Beer so it's time to put them to the test. If you've been anywhere that sells beer lately, it's fairly likely that you've seen plenty of Oktoberfest and Pumpkin Ale. Since this is America (dammit) I thought I'd drop the "K" and spell it right. As Sam Adams has to be the most American beer out there (patriotically speaking,) their Octoberfest seemed like a good bet. Plus, it's cheap and we basically ruined our economy, so that has to be a good thing.

First, let's check it against the rules for purchase:

Rule #5: Know your style preferences.

In the store: Orange label? check. Maple leaves on the bottle? check. Pumpkin on the bottle? Surprisingly, no. Says "Oktoberfest" or "Marzen" on the label? close enough. I do like Vienna Lager and this being an Oktoberfest it should embody Sam's take on it. So far so good.

Rule #4: To pumpkin or not to pumpkin?


Rule #3: Spot seasonal invaders.

This does look suspiciously like a seasonal invader. Their overly generic description doesn't make it sound like they spent a lot of time on this formulation. It basically says "5 varieties of malted barley for a richer taste." That doesn't really sound like an Oktoberfest or a fall beer to me, just a "beer" beer.

Rule #2: Read the label.

As I mentioned in #3, this label hardly says anything (not even the ABV.) It doesn't list the type of hops or make any claims at all. Their website says a little more about it, but not everybody is going to whip out their iPhone in the liquor store. Even the website is just a Wikipedia dump about what Marzen and Oktoberfest mean.

Rule #1: Check the date.

Born in march this year, so it's fine. If your label doesn't look like the picture I posted you're probably drinking something partially fossilized.

So how does it stack up?

Sam Adams in my opinion is a beer best enjoyed right from the bottle. Unless I order it on tap (which I only do when there are no local or microbrews on tap) I don't think it should be served in a glass. As such, I won't report on the color. The aroma is sweet and bland, not much to it.

The initial taste is very sweet and malty. It's not hoppy at all, which I didn't expect from Sam Adams. They usually have a pretty pronounced hoppy flavor even in their flagship Boston Lager and Boston Ales. The aftertaste is pretty bready. It's really not at all what I expected, especially since the variety is supposed to be similar to Vienna lager (which regular Sam Adams Lager is similar to.) The finish is sweet but doesn't cover up the alcohol, even though this is a low ABV beer.

Overall it's not that bad, but has more "Beer" flavor than most other Sam Adams offerings. It's almost too strong without any real character (sort of like Sylvester Stallone?) It's not what I was expecting, so Rule #5 doesn't work; it passes Rule #2 by omission, and rules #1 and #4 legitimately. Unfortunately, I have to call this one a "Seasonal Invader" at about a C+, with regular Sam Adams being a solid B. Sorry Sam, better luck next time.

Have you tried this beer? What'd you think? Let me know in the comments below!

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