Harpoon Brewing Co., Octoberfest

Grade: C
Harpoon Brewing Co.

Alright, in honor of the upcoming Octoberfest season (which, by the way, starts in the middle of September. Those Germans know how to party!) I've decided to try a selection of American made Octoberfest style beers, to see how the home teams stack up. This will be the first of many. Remember, I do this for all of you...

Pours a deep, rich amber with a tan head that dissipates after a minute or two. The clarity is what I would call brilliant, absolutely crystal clear with bubbles running up the sides of the glass. Rich notes of caramel in the aroma. Slightly grainy, toasty elements as well. Some of the sulfur you might expect from a lager is there. Raisin and brown sugar rounds out nose. Mouthfeel is light, passing over the palate with ease. There is a dry finish, and not too much sweetness in general. Roast and husky grain flavors come out when you first sip, followed by only a little of the caramel I sensed in the aroma. Overall I'm having trouble discerning individual elements of flavor, as there doesn't seem to be many to discern. The raisin is only just barely there, followed by a very faint note of dates. The malt profile is clean, absurdly so. It almost feels like this beer has been stripped of it's flavor through the filtering process, which may well have been exactly what happened.

Harpoon is one of those breweries that makes good drinking beer, but doesn't seem to push the envelope with flavor. They play it very safe, dancing around a bland flavor profile that doesn't offend. It makes sense that they would want to cater to the general population, not everyone is going to order an oak aged imperial espresso stout after all. However to call this beer an Oktoberfest seems to do the style an injustice. While Oktoberfest is a fairly simple beer ingredient wise, those few ingredients handled well result in massively flavorful and robust beers. While in the spirit of the style, I don't think this beer can measure up. Non craft-beer drinkers will find this a pleasant, yet familiar deviation from the mega-lagers of America. Just don't offer this beer to a German, or you'll get your face punched in.