Thursday, November 21, 2013

Otter Creek Oktoberfest

A bavarian autumn classic beer style formerly known as Marzen, this example of Oktoberfest is true to style and is becoming one of my favorites. I had the honors of talking to the brewer who formulated the recipe at Otter Creek. His previous work experience was at Ramstein Brewery in New Jersey, which specializes in lagers. I have also been told that this is the first year that a traditional German lager yeast strain was used. I enjoy one every day after work, and I know you should too.

Alcohol Content: 4.8%
IBU: 32
Malts: 2-Row, Munich, Caramel 60, Pilsner, Vienna
Hops: Apollo, Hallertau

Price: $3.50/ 12oz; 4.50/ 16oz; 5.00/ 20oz @ the brewery taproom
Medium: 16oz draught - pint glass

Aroma: Munich, caramel, and Vienna malts all attribute to a pleasantly sweet graininess similar to warm toast or bread. I almost thought it was due to yeast character but the malts provide great depth characteristic of the toasted malts. I found this batch to have a little bit of diacetyl in both aroma and flavor. After waiting a week for the new keg to come on tap, I was transformed. Hop character is mildly light and spicy or noble. I'm unsure of sulfur notes but there is definitely something to the water profile or yeast that is picked up in the aroma, taste, and mouthfeel.
Appearance: Thick, frothy off-white head piled up about 1-inch high and spilling over the rim before serving. Deep golden amber hue. Layers of foam are easily observable as they linger with each gulp of beer.
Flavor: Malty but not necessarily as sweet as the nose suggest. This confirms the maltiness of the beer and determines the main body and focus of the style. Toasted malt, notes of biscuit, and good attenuation keeps the sweetness down while having a big flavor impact. Hop flavors are spicy while the bitterness is assertive and plays with the malt character. Finish is crisp and semi-dry and the aftertaste remains malty but not sweet. Diacetyl is confirmed amongst several employees from the brewery.
Mouthfeel: Smooth, medium body, and fully fermented/ good attenuation without a cloying finish. Malt is the focus in both flavor and body while bitterness provides the support. 32 IBU is a bit high for the style, which is relatively noticeable to traditional Oktoberfest, however the extra bitterness is clean and complementing.
Overall Impression: Delicious, crisp, refreshing, and sessionable. I sampled it with beer pretzels made fresh from the brewery. Salt in the pretzel pairs well with the malts in the beer and makes for a fuller experience. Considered the perfect brew for an autumn evening. Enjoy with traditional German foods for an easy pairing, or go for something spicy and fulfilling like mexican food.

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