These Florida breezes carrying fleeting cooler temperatures certainly call out for the flavors and styles of fall. I will wisely heed this call by taking a look at Oktoberfest German-style Festbier from Cigar City Brewing (Tampa, Florida) in this week’s edition of Tasting Notes.
Back in September, I gave you all the lowdown on the seasonal return of Cigar City Brewing’s Oktoberfest German-style Festbier (click here to view that post). Brewed with Hallertauer Mittlefruh hops, Munich malt and five other varieties of German malts, the brewery describes this Festbier as a nod “firmly toward the style’s history with its amber color.” The news of a more traditional, heartier, locally-produced Oktoberfest lager certainly piqued the interest of my German side, and I just had to go out and grab a few cans to experience this one for myself. So, here we are . . . can in hand . . . stein at the ready . . . I guess the only thing left to do is get to some Tasting Notes!
Tasting Notes for Oktoberfest German-style Festbier from Cigar City Brewing
Appearance: Oktoberfest fills the stein with an amber colored liquid popping with brown, garnet and sunny orange hues. Held to direct light, the body brightens and bursts with lighter browns and burnt oranges. The beer is quite clear with an ample carbonation presence darting throughout. The pour produced two fingers of off-white to light tan foam. The head is loose and bubbly, falling to a thin ring that leaves minimal lacing. This brew certainly makes this stein look good and feel at home.
Aroma: Each time the stein’s cap is raised, the air is filled with a comforting presence that is as gentle and subdued as a fall day. Grains . . . so much grain presence pushes forward to produce notes of the beautifully baked, hearty breads of Europe. Real bread. This fantastic grain note and a bit of nuttiness comprises the majority of the profile, but there is a muted and restrained hop presence kicking around in here to lend complementing earthy and herbaceous tones. If these aromatics could fill my house each and everyday, I would not be upset at all.
Taste: Cereal grains and rich breadiness lead the way once again. A touch of caramel is woven in along with just a kiss of floral honey. Although this brew is malt driven, it is by no means overly sweet thanks to a deft and balancing infusion of hops. Herbal in character, these hops supply a wisp of complementing flavor and just enough bitterness to pull everything together. Delicious and incredibly satisfying.
Mouthfeel: This one is medium in body with a bright carbonation that carries the beer gracefully across the palate. Sweet on the tongue, but it clears out with haste to achieve a wonderful level of crispness and drinkability. The ABV shows itself as quite light in presence with just the slightest tinge of heat prickling the throat at times. The aftertaste is all bready malt.
Final Thoughts: When my mind wanders to ideas of what makes a good Oktoberfestbier, the characteristics residing within Cigar City’s Oktoberfest German-style Festbier are pretty much what always come to mind: comforting, bready malt qualities possessing just enough sweetness to meld seamlessly with floral and herbal hop notes that supply balance and added depth. Malt is the unrivaled yet careful wheel-man for this ride, and the hops know that their place is in the backseat. Through cunning and a non-obtrusive nature, this Oktoberfest proves that malty beers can also be easy drinking and quenching. If my notes have led you astray, please do not be mistaken because there is nothing simple about this beer. No, sir . . . this is artful complexity disguised as simplicity. Without a doubt, this is a beautifully executed, respectful homage to the Festbier . . . and to that, I can always raise a glass. Prost!