Author: Mikey Riedel

It’s October! And what do we beer lovers do in October? Duh, we celebrate Oktoberfest! There are many fine beers available at this time of year, and finding the right one for our specific needs is a bit of a no-brainer. Märzens, also known as Oktoberfest biers, are the traditional lagers served at Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany since 1810, and their roots have been traced as far back as the 1500s.
Märzens are one of my favorite lagers on Earth. They’re rich, malty and toasty, with nice vanilla notes. The hops are generally mild and grassy, with an ABV of 5.0% – 6.0%. Right now, there are many, many options floating around the state. Gordon Biersch makes a fine Märzen, as does Epic (Fest Devious), Red Rock (Autumn Fest), Desert Edge, Roosters and on and on.
You get my point? There is a shload of great options, but I have to choose three beers that I think are your best bets. Here they are:

Hoppers Stein Knocker
Brewery/Brand: Hoppers
ABV: 4.0%
Serving Style: On Tap

Description: Orange and copper are bright in the glass. The nose is of vanilla, earthy fruit and caramel. The taste starts with caramel malts that evolve to a vanilla/malt note, and then finish with a clean orange- peel dryness that cleanses the palate just as the malt elements start to stick around on the tongue. It’s crisp, clean and perfect.
Overview: In 2011, this beer was named the best Märzen in the U.S. at the Great American Beer Festival. Yes, it’s that good, and only available at Hoppers.

Bohemian Oktoberfest
Brewery/Brand: Bohemian Brewery
ABV: 4.0%
Serving Style: On Tap

Description: The nose on this one is sweet with toasted grain and bready caramel. The taste is similar with the addition of orange peel and grass. The grassy/floral hop bitterness is assertive enough to balance out the beer, making it very drinkable. The mouthfeel is light to medium, mellow and delicious.
Overview: This is a wonderful beer. Bohemian specializes in Old World lagers. The brew team in Midvale has come up with a great, low-alcohol interpretation on this festival beer. Check it out at the brewery and Snowbird’s Oktoberfest.

Ayinger Oktober Fest-Märzen
Brewery/Brand: Privatbrauerei Franz Inselkammer KG / Brauerei Aying
ABV: 5.8%
Serving Style: 500 ml Bottle

Description: The appearance of this offering is much lighter than the others, with more of a light-orange color. The nose on this is just amazing: very complex with apple, fruity malts, nuts and vanilla. The taste starts with a malty sweetness that dominates the front end. Molasses and roasted notes come next. The finish is semi-sweet with toasted barley, fruit, light bitterness and some yeast notes. This is a nicely balanced, crisp and refreshing Oktoberfest. Very nice.
Overview: This is the only German-made beer reviewed. Many consider this beer to be the original Oktoberfest bier. Insanely drinkable, you should definitely snag a few of these while they’re around.

2015 is on pace to be one of the best beer years that Utah has seen in quite some time. With new, local breweries opening; fresh, new, local labels; and a flood of new, domestic craft brands moving in from out of state, it’s going to be hard (but not impossible) to keep track of it all. Luckily, that’s my gig. It’s good work if you can get it, and trust me, at this rate, I’m going to be a busy lil’ beer bee over the coming months. Just trying to keep track of all the barley goodness making its way to our homes and pubs is turning into a full-time job in and of itself. This month, we have a trio of options that gives you a good idea of what’s happening locally as well as a taste of what’s going on outside of our borders.

Misdirected IPA Beer
Brewery/Brand: Shades of Pale Brewing Co.
ABV: 4.0%
Serving Style: draft/12 oz bottle
Poured from a draft handle, this IPA Beer pours a slightly hazy, golden-amber color with a sturdy finger of foamy head. (Note: It’s OK to ask your bartender for a ‘little head’ when it comes to pouring your beer). The nose has a nice blend of citrus peel and flowery hops. It’s obviously a fresh keg. The taste starts with some muted caramel malt and toasty grain crackers. Tropical fruitiness comes next, adding some nice balance. The end is similar to the aroma—floral and citrusy. It finishes fairly dry.
Overall: This is Shades of Pale’s first new beer in nearly two years. It’s a nice session IPA Beer that has plenty of hops for even the most finicky hop heads.

Happy Camper IPA Beer
Brewery/Brand: Santa Fe Brewing Co.
ABV: 6.6%
Serving Style: 12 oz can
This beer pours a clear, light-amber color with a firm two fingers of head that last half way through the IPA beer. The nose has mostly floral and grassy notes with a bit of citrus hop notes in the back. Earthy malts are also present. The taste starts with some floral and grassy bitterness with a bit of musty tangelo juice. Some subtle caramel malts come next, rounding out the bitterness. Some toffee notes are present as well. It finishes dry with a little bit of bitter orange rind and pine needles.
Overall: In this beer, the citrus notes that people tend to prefer in their IPA Beer take a backseat to more floral varieties of hops. Think of it as more of an English IPA Beer with some American influences.

Old Sage Brett
Brewery/Brand: Epic Brewing Co.
ABV: 7.6%
Serving Style: 22 oz bottle
This oak-barrel-aged beer pours a clear-amber color with a sudsy, white head. The nose is dry and dusty with a huge dose of sage and herbs. The taste starts off mildly sour with some unripened fruit tartness. Sage, rosemary and lemongrass come next with a bit of pineapple and oak adding some balance. A touch of vanilla and malt round out the end with a ton of spicy, herbal oak and leather rounding out the finish.
Overall: This one isn’t for the timid. Its sourness and high herbal profile can be a bit overwhelming. Prepare your tongue for a full frontal assault.

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