Thursday, August 03, 2017

Drinking, again! Sierra Nevada Oktoberfest.

Sierra Nevada Oktoberfest: July (!) 2017.

In Munich, Germany, Oktoberfest will run for eighteen days this year, from 16 September through 3 October. In North Carolina, Sierra Nevada Brewing packaged its Oktoberfest-style lager for this year ... on 7 July 2017. Calendar creep.

Back when I was flogging beer in northern Virginia, the beer-buyer in one particular shop would admonish me in summer: "No mention of Oktoberfest (or pumpkin beer) before 1 August." Sierra Nevada (and others) yearly jump this red line. Way too soon, but way so delicious.

Limpid, light-amber color. Nose of toasted marshmallow and herbs. Sweet, baked-shortbread middle. Drying slug of finishing hops. At 6.1% alcohol-by-volume, on the higher end: festive, indeed. Worth the early taste.

The brewery's website displays a bottle with the name of Germany’s "Brauhaus Miltenberger" emblazoned below the word "Oktoberfest." The beer can does not (with, instead, the word, "Festbier").
This year, we’re collaborating with Germany’s Brauhaus Miltenberger, whose approach to the classic style we’ve long admired. The result is a festival beer true to their style—deep golden in color with deceptively rich malt flavor and balanced by traditional German-grown whole-cone hops.
  • 6.1% alcohol-by-volume (abv)
  • 30 IBUs (international bittering units)
  • Bittering hops: German Magnum
  • Finishing hops: German Select, Tettnanger, Spalter
  • Malts: Two-row Pale, Steffi, Pilsner, Munich
Despite a resurgence of lagers among small American 'craft' breweries, it still appears difficult for many of them —if for technical and brewing-philosophical reasons— to produce elegant lagers such as festbiers.

For example, one datum. In 2016, I purchased a locally-brewed Oktoberfest-style lager, a mere three days after the brewery had canned it. It tasted like a Belgian sour beer gone bad, like a melon left out too long. A (very) small sample size, yes, but twelve-dollars was wasted. Rarely is that a problem with Sierra Nevada.

Even with modern refrigeration and technology, there is at least one beer style that remains naturally dependent on the calendar. And so, I wait for autumn-harvest beers brewed with picked-that-day, uncured, hops. I anticipate the fresh-hopped beers of September and October.

A series of occasional reviews of beer (and wine and spirits).
No scores; only descriptions.

  • This post was submitted, two months after its publication, to The Session: Beer Blogging Friday, because its topic for September was Oktoberfest. It seemed timely.
  • Sierra Nevada's collaborative German brewery is actually named "Brauhaus Faust-Miltenberger." In the U.S., it's beers must be sold as "Miltenberger," due to Anheuser-Busch InBev owning the "Faust" beer copyright, according to BeerAdvocate.
  • Munich's Oktoberfest —the original— usually runs for sixteen days ending on the first Sunday in October. Since the 1990s, however, if the sixteenth day falls before 3 October (which is German Unity Day), the festival continues until and including the 3rd. Thus, Oktoberfest in 2017 —the festival's 184th iteration— comprises a full eighteen days: 16 September through 3 October. Prost!

  • Other "Drinking, again!" beer reviews: here.
  • Graphic created by Mike Licht at NotionsCapital.

  • For more from YFGF:

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