Beck's Oktoberfest

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If youíre a German brewer, October may not be your favorite month. Whatís that, you say? October is the month of Oktoberfest (well, itís really more like end of September), that grand and glorious celebration of gemutlicheit, oversized pretzels, and most especially beer that is so definitively German? Why, how could any German brewer be unhappy at such a time?

Mostly because, of course, they canít brew Oktoberfest beer. Oh sure, any German brewer can whip up a batch of Vienna-Marzen style lager, which is what Oktoberfest beer originally was and still often is. They just canít call it Oktoberfest beer. By law, only six German breweries can do that: Lowenbrau, Hofbrauhaus, Paulaner, Hacker-Pschorr (now owned by Paulaner), Spaten, and Augustiner.

Meanwhile, American microbreweries have a ball calling all kinds of stuff (even, gasp, ales) Oktoberfest beer! So what to do? The bigger German brewers, like Beckís of Bremen, wised up and decided that if American breweries can sell the American public Oktoberfest beers, well, they can too.

Ergo, Beckís Oktoberfest (formerly called Beckís for Oktoberfest). This is a relatively recent addition to the Beckís lineup, which for a long time consisted only of Beckís Beer , a pilsner style lager, and Beckís Dark , a dunkel. Recently, Beckís Premier Light was added as well.

Pouring my bottle of Beckís Oktoberfest into a glass I get a reddish-brown hued liquid capped off with a light head of foam. A whiff reveals a slightly chocolaty nose. I take a sip, and I get a very clean dark lager with noticeable flavors of chocolate malt, though not really the nutty Munich malt flavors Iím looking for. In fact, it tastes almost like a blend of Beck's and Beck's Dark to me.

In 2001, I scribed the following notes about this beer:

There is a subtle touch of chocolate here and some light malt character, but the body is thinner than I'd like for the style. It's like a bigger version of Beck's beer but a lesser one than Beck's Dark. As such it's not a bad beer, but isn't my idea of Maerzen beer.

Today, I think the body is a bit more firm than it was in the past. But the chocolate malt flavors still predominate. The beer finishes dry, with a slightly herbal grassy hop aroma and bitterness.

While this isnít a bad beer, itís not one that bowls me over, either. Best to stick to one of the original breweries for your Oktoberfest beer, some of which are available in America.

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Review date: October 9, 2007

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