Sam Adams: What not to drink for Octoberfest
When the calendar flips to September, every self-respecting, or even self-loathing, beer drinker’s thoughts should start turning to Octoberfest. The one party of the year that really is all about the beer -- say what you will about Christmas and Arbor Day. And there’s suddenly a rush of seasonal offerings from all variety of brewers all purporting to be the best thing that can be found outside of a Munich beer hall.
Samuel Adams claims their Octoberfest is the most popular of all these pretenders. Unfortunately, it, too, is merely a pretender. It seems like it tastes different this year. Maybe they’ve done some tweaking. I seem to remember it being much sweeter. Whatever. It could still use a bit more work.
I used to drink copious quantities of all variety of Sam Adams’ products. It was always decent beer at a decent price. A clear step above the usual macros. However, when one opts for an ’Octoberfest’ beer, there are certain things one expects to find. Big, malty flavor. A bit more wallop than a normal beer. Something a nudge heavier than the summer lagers that had just been consumed for the last few months. It should taste like a big German beer.
Sam’s version tastes like a sorry American knock-off of the idea. Not bad, in and of itself, but why bother?
The reddish amber color is spot on. The off-white head is thick and creamy -- for about 5 seconds, then it disappears. The aroma is slight, but there is the whiff of malt.
As I mentioned, I expected to be socked with sweetness from the malt right up front. It’s not as pronounced anymore. I don’t go for sweet beers anyway, so that’s all well and good as far as I’m concerned. The malt does give it a toffee taste just like the six pack claims, but it’s muted. There’s no kick from any hops at all. The flavor is soft. Nothing that will offend anyone. Has Sam sold out and decided to go after the Bud drinkers?
There is nothing hearty about the beer. The mouthfeel is light, almost watery. The alcohol level is 5.7%, so any tingle on the tongue is probably from the large amount of carbonation. There’s no comforting warmth going down. It does not bring to mind a stein-full of proper beer in a German beer garden. It brings to mind a lame attempt to make a beer that’ll appeal to unadventurous American taste buds.
Even though I’m disappointed with this Samuel Adams offering, I can still find a place for it if I look. I’m not sure I’d want more than a couple, but if I was going to a tailgate party at some early-fall football game, it would fit in nicely. In any other circumstance, I’d find something better. It wouldn’t be hard. If you want an “Octoberfest” beer, try some other brewery’s version -- Great Lakes, for instance. Even better, take a chance you’ll find a fresh one, and spring for the real German stuff. But, if you just want to pretend you’re drinking something other than your usual weak American macro for a couple weeks in the fall, while still drinking a weak American beer all the while, this is probably the beer for you.