Sierra Nevada’s Oktoberfest 2016
Somehow, someway, Sierra Nevada’s past seasonal Oktoberfest beer releases have slipped past me, except for their 2015 and now 2016 releases. Sierra Nevada says they collaborate each year with a different brewery for their Oktoberfest seasonal beers. This year it’s Mahrs Bräu of Bamberg. I must say that it looks and tastes almost exactly the same as last year’s, and that is to say that it tastes delicious!
The neck label on the bottle states they used Record hop varietal–as a finishing hop per their website, “a nearly forgotten German-grown hop.” That very well may be, but don’t expect to discern some hop characteristic you’ve never tasted before. This is a German lager, very crisp and well balanced between malt and hops, the color is a sexy and stunning gold. There is little hop aroma, but the flavor is traditional German noble hops. Almost like a double German Pilsner or a bock, this 2016 Oktoberfest beer is really something to celebrate. In general I’m not a huge fan of the Märzen style, which may explain why I may have passed over prior Oktoberfest offerings. They’re a little too nutty, caramel and orange-peely for me, which is why Sierra’s 2015 Oktoberfest grabbed my attention, and thankfully they’ve stayed in the same lane with this year’s collaboration.
Sierra Nevada’s website suggests German Weisswurst sausage or Roast Pork—couldn’t agree more. The German Weisswurst or Wisconsin style white bratwurst, which I usually make this time of year, would be my preference, with some sauerkraut and rye bread slices. Here I had the Czech rye bread I bake, some Hungarian smoked paprika salami I made, and some smoked paprika cheddar, which I also made. My sauerkraut took a wrong turn this year and had to be tossed to the compost—otherwise I’d be having some. The mustard is Amora—a French Dijon I first had in the Czech Republic and immediately fell in love with.
Sierra Nevada also suggests a cheese pairing of Mild Cheddar or some Butterkase. My guess is Whole Foods or a good cheese monger might have the Butterkase—actually if you live in Wisconsin or Midwest that may be in your grocery stores. In San Diego—not so much. Sierra’s desert pairing suggestion is Apple Strudel with fresh whipped cream. I would deviate here slightly but generally completely agree… I once accidentally discovered that a good German lager is a perfect match for apple crumb pie. My mother gets her “Transparent” variety apples every year from Ohio—they are slightly tart and Champagne-like.
Drinking Sierra Nevada’s 2016 Oktoberfest is like pouring liquid gold jewels down your throat. I will make one recommendation. This is a beer best enjoyed cold, and finished within the first few minutes of pouring. You don’t have to chug-a-lug, and you can always pace yourself in between, but this beer’s sweet-spot is right after pouring.
Lastly, after a hot San Diego summer (although this year wasn’t too bad), perhaps the best thing about drinking this Oktoberfest beer is that it serves as a little friendly reminder that crisp cold nights are on their way, and that Sierra Nevada’s Celebration Ale is soon to follow.