It is finally October, which means several things: the unseasonably hot September is behind us, football has started, and we have a four week grace period before big retail companies declares it to be Christmas Season. Also, it’s Festbier season! Let’s enjoy it while it lasts, shall we? Oaktoberfest! (That’s not a typo.) I decided that, because the season is perfect, I would pick an Oktoberfest style beer to review as one of my first blog posts. Firestone Walker is famous for their use of the Burton Union System, where many of their beers carry out their primary fermentations in oak barrels, which imparts a distinct oak flavor to their beers. To put this in perspective, the VAST majority of professional brewers will ferment their beers in stainless steel vessels.
Firestone Walker has a very large portfolio of fantastic beers (many of which I am sure I will review in the future), and their Oaktoberfest is their take on the Oktoberfest style! Here’s my take:
Beer Name: Oaktoberfest
Brewery: Firestone Walker Brewing Company
Brewery Location: Paso Robles, CA
Beer Style: Märzen
Oaktoberfest pours a deep gold, almost copper color. The beer has brilliant clarity- I could probably read a book through my glass; and pours a thick, creamy head that does not quit, even several minutes after pouring the beer. The lacing persists as you continue to drink the beer. The beer has medium carbonation and is, overall, extremely inviting.
Light caramel malt aroma and a light perfumy hop character are both apparent, but otherwise the aroma is actually fairly neutral.
Taste & Aftertaste
A very light corniness is present on the first sip, but a light caramel flavor soon takes over the overall flavor of the beer with each subsequent sip. This beer has some residual sweetness from the malt, but actually finishes extremely dry (though is not thin in body). There is a slight earthiness present in the beer that I suspect comes from the beer having had contact with oak. I also think that there’s a very faint hint of vanilla in the background, which is a common flavor with oak aged beers, and the caramel notes rise to the forefront more as the beer warms up. There is a firm bitterness that lingers in the aftertaste- but I can’t tell if that comes from the hops, the oak, or a combination of the two. If I had one critique of the beer, it would be that the bitterness didn’t linger so long in the aftertaste. However, this beer is excellent.
Overall, I would say that this beer is extremely easy to drink, and is a very dry, crisp, and refreshing beer. I could sit down and drink several of these, especially after raking a pile of leaves in the yard…if I had a rake…or a yard. I only wish the bitterness in this beer did not linger, but the strengths of this beer far outweigh the one minor critique that I have. This was a fantastic Märzen. I would drink many pints of it, and certainly recommend it to a friend over bratwurst and soft pretzels. Prost!