While the weather remains unseasonably warm for this time of year, that nip in the morning air is a sure signal that fall is actually here. Brews for the season have also arrived led by the Oktoberfest beers with their pronounced malt character and subdued but noticeable hop profile. Here are some worthy of your attention.
Spaten Oktoberfest Ur-Märzen
Spaten lays claim to being the original Oktoberfest brew. Clean and well-balanced with soft malt, a light toastiness, smooth hops and a touch of citrus on the finish. Overall, the driest of the bunch, with a smoothness that is totally appealing.
Paulener Oktoberfest Märzen Amber
A bit bigger bodied than the Spaten but still maintains good balance. The malt is a little more pronounced and a touch sweeter, but nice dry hops evens things out. The tiniest touch of clove and spice come through on the finish. The Paulener usually gets my vote as the top Oktoberfest and it's a very close second this time around.
Ayinger Oktober Fest-Märzen
Strong toasted malt aromas come through on the nose, but in the mouth it's a bit lighter than the others, with the emphasis on sweet, toasty malt. Finishes with just a hint of hops and a light sour mash quality. Lacks the balance of my favorites.
The best of the American, but very different in style from its German counterpoints. An earthy brew with a big bite of hops batting up against dark, toasted malt. Full-bodied, but again, it lacks the balance and the style of the better German Oktoberfest.
Hale's Ales O'Brien's
Not an Oktoberfest, but one of the absolute best autumn brews around. Made with fresh hops from the fall harvest, it's a medium-bodied ale with rich malt and a strong hop profile. Rich and creamy flavors, with a nice fresh fruit character and wonderful balance make this my overall top choice. :