Samuel Adams, Oktoberfest

Grade: B-
Boston Beer Company

Pours quite clear with an offwhite head and an amber/rusty color. Lager sulfurs are in the aroma, as well as sweet caramels, a little brown sugar, and some raisin. Some toast comes after you warm the glass a bit. Mouthfeel is medium light to light, finishing dryer than it starts. The lager elements of sulfur and clean yeast character are present in the flavor. Some toasty, bready notes follow the caramel and the toffee. Sweetness isn't present here, however. This beer feels quite dry from beginning to end. There aren't many fruity esters to speak of, but if you had to twist my arm I'd say there was a faint background of plums and dates.

I think that there are two examples of Oktoberfest beers, as the Germans make them. They have a clean, light colored lager that gets poured by the liter, and resembles many of the larger German brewery's products (Becks, Heineken, etc.). They also have something called a Marzen, which is darker and more malt forward, yet is still a lager like it's lighter colored cousin. Traditionally, this darker version was what was served as the Oktoberfest beer, but with the expansion of mega-breweries the beer got lighter and lighter over time, and was praised more for it's ability to be consumed in mass quantities rather than for it's taste.

I think I'm noticing a bit of a trend with these larger American craft brewers. They seem to think that all lagers must be squeaky clean and go down smooth, like the lager now being served as an Oktoberfest in Germany. I find that Boston Beer Company's Oktoberfest falls into the category of this lighter, more macro-centric beer. Unoffensive, yet also uninspiring.