This is a wonderful time of year for beer drinkers. I enjoy choosing my beer according to the season and in that respect, fall is my favorite beer season. I enjoy citrusy wheat beers in summer, but I just can't resist the quaffability of an Oktoberfest brew. That's my keyword for fall beer: Quaffable. The perfect Oktoberfest drink is a balance between fall spices and drinkability. You want more than a watery pilsener this time of year, but you don't want too much. If the beer's too heavy, you can't toss down more than one or two while you gobble wiener schnitzel and brats. But what do I know, I'm a vegetarian. Here in Michigan, I enjoy my fall beer with other pumpkin-related food, candy corn, stuffing, yams, etc. As far as accessability goes, you can't miss with a Sam Adams Octoberfest, but you know that already. Of course there's nothing wrong with finding a few beers you like and sticking with them. Nothing wrong unless you enjoy robbing your tastebuds of exciting new flavors. Honestly, live a little. You won't kill your tongue with a little bit of adventure, not unless you slam a bottle of Chili Beer. (Check out their website, it features a muscled chili pepper beating up a lime and what sounds like Bob Dylan singing mariachi music.) I think what I'm trying to say is that you really should take a look around your local beer markets for a six-pack of Victory Brewing Co.'s Festbier.
Although this picture, lifted from Victory's website, depicts only three beers, I assure you that I was able to buy an entire six-pack. I found it at Oades Big Ten (314 S. Clippert St., Lansing). I balked at the price, but forked over the money. When I got to my party destination and opened a bottle, I was sweetly rewarded. I wouldn't spend $10 every weekend for this beer, but it's a worthwhile occassional indulgence. Its flavor rests primarily in its malts, but is not sweet or heavy. I can honestly say that this beer is unique. I was suprised to find on their website that it includes no spices. I shared it with three acquaintances at the party and quickly found I had three new friends. If you take a look at the design, depicting laborers and a prominent "V", not to mention the name Victory in the first place, it has a distinctly communist feel. That's okay though. I've heard communists criticized for many things, but not for their beer. They hail from Pennsylvania, which as you may or may not know is not a state but a commonwealth. With all this communalism going on, you'd think they could cut a comrade a break on the price of a sixer.
Aside from Sam Adams, another widely available Oktoberfest in the Midwest is Leinenkugel's version. It's not bad, but is light on flavor. It's not too expensive, so give it a try and see what you think. It definitely hits the drinkability measure, but doesn't stack up to the others on taste.
I promise a pumkin beer update in time for Thanksgiving.