So this is the first of a series I will call Taste Test! Basically just me eating and drinking all of the things! ALL OF THE THINGS! For this installment I tasted 4 different Oktoberfest beers and it was nothing short of delightful.
I have a complicated relationship with beer. It is one of my life’s greatest loves, but it makes me fat and unhealthy. Thus, I can’t love it as much as I want to. I love beer so much that I died a little bit inside when I decided to slowly cut it out of my life earlier this year. Not completely! I still allow myself to revel in the magical hops and grains every now and again, but I no longer keep it in the house or order it much when I’m out. I still love it, but mostly from afar. I’m still a self proclaimed beer nerd though. Happy to have that title.
This summer when I was galavanting around Europe, I made a point to try local beers. I’d heard so much about how German beer is the best beer in the world and most of my favorite breweries here in the states model their beer after German or Belgian beer. I had to see for myself, so in Germany I tried a brew. In Denmark, I tried a brew. In Estonia, I tried a brew. In Finland, I tried a brew. And in Sweden, I tried a brew. They were all pretty similar, but pretty different tasting than the hoppy swill we have back in the U.S. Most of the beers I tried were fairly mild pilsners, lagers, and ales. I enjoyed the experience and finally understood the differences between European and American beer.
So the end of September and early October rolls around and Oktoberfest celebrations are happening all over the place. Nothing screams fall like Oktoberfest! The actual Oktoberfest in Germany is happening, but there are also lots of celebrations going on stateside. In the Houston area alone, almost all of the major breweries have some kind of event and many bars have Oktoberfest events. I haven’t been to one as of yet, but I felt like I wanted to try some new Oktoberfest seasonal release beers. So I headed to my local HEB (best grocery store in the world for you non-Texans) and picked some up.
HEB has the create your own 6 pack thing where you can pick a bunch of different kinds of beers to make your own 6 pack, so that is what I opted for. Much to my chagrin, the HEB I went to only had 4 Oktoberfest style beers. I was trying to pick all Texas brewed beers, but alas, the 4th one had to be from a different state (Colorado to be exact!)
I tasted them all back to back and compared my findings. This little taste test made me feel like a mad scientist. A mad beeratist if you will. All in all, it was a lot of fun and I tasted some great beers. Here are the beers I tasted:
- St. Arnold’s Oktoberfest (Houston, TX)
I am a big fan of St. Arnold’s as a brewery, it is probably my second favorite Houston brewery behind the one I volunteer at on occasion (Buffalo Bayou, check them out Houstonians!). Their Oktoberfest beer was nothing short of impressive and amazing. The first aroma to come from the glass was that of a malty, yeasty brew. Almost in the vein of a porter or stout, very rich smelling. The color was a deeper amber as pictured above. It went down so smooth with just a touch of bitterness at the end. It was extremely easy to drink and not too heavy. I couldn’t help but want a pretzel with beer cheese while drinking this. It transported me back to Germany.
2. Real Ale Oktoberfest (Blanco, TX)
The next brewski I tried was Real Ale’s Oktoberfest. I haven’t had many beers from Real Ale, but what I have had I have enjoyed. Their Oktoberfest was no exception, it was modeled after a Bavarian style lager, which I enjoyed many of while in Europe. This beer smelled a little more malty than the first one and had a darker, cloudier look to it in the glass. The taste was crisp and had a little bit more of a punch with the bitterness. It wasn’t as smooth as St. Arnold’s and it had more of a caramelized taste. I enjoyed it, but it wasn’t my favorite.
3. Shiner Oktoberfest (Shiner, TX)
I was trying to stick with all craft breweries for this taste test, but HEB didn’t have a huge selection of Oktoberfest beers so I had to pick Shiner as one of mine to try. I am a fan of Shiner as far as domestic, mainstream beers go. If I’m wanting to drink cheap or don’t know what to order while I’m out, Shiner is a go to for me. The Shiner Oktoberfest beer is a Märzen style lager, which is just a fancy name for Bavarian style. Shiner is a German style brewery anyway, so the fact that it was able to keep up with creative craft breweries did not surprise me. It wasn’t the best beer I tasted during the taste test, but it did have a more hoppy flavor than the others. I normally like hoppy beers like IPAs, so this was a nice change of pace.
4. Left Hand Oktoberfest (Longmont, CO)
And last, but not least! My favorite beer of the taste test! Left Hand’s Oktoberfest! I love Left Hand. I have been a fan of theirs since I started drinking craft beer a few years ago. I visited the brewery a while ago in Colorado and it was amazing! This beer had all of the elements of a beer that I would normally love. It had a bit of a fruitier and sweeter smell and taste. The bitterness (German style beers all have this distinct bitterness), is harsher up front, but it gets lighter as you let it settle in your mouth. This beer is also characterized as a Märzen style lager and I love their label art. Not just on this bottle, but on all of them. It is so unique and detailed.
My ranking goes as follows:
- Left Hand Oktoberfest
- St. Arnold’s Oktoberfest
- Shiner Oktoberfest
- Real Ale Oktoberfest
If you’re into beer or not, Oktoberfest beers are some of the most unique and delightful beers around. They are mild, so if you aren’t super into beer you’ll probably still like them. I urge you to look out for them on the shelves and also go experience an Oktoberfest at a bar or brewery. You’ll feel ultra cool pounding beers out of giant beer steins in zee biergarden with the men in lederhosen and the women dressed like medieval wenches!
I will definitely be doing more beer taste tests in the future, until next time PROST! (Cheers!)