The calendar says September, but for the beer fan it's Oktoberfest season. The earliest of these fall celebratory brews start appearing in August. O'so Brewing just came out with its version, called O-toberfest. It's the first time the brewery has offered this fall seasonal in six-packs.
What is it? O-toberfest from O'so Brewing Company of Plover, Wisconsin.
Style: The Oktoberfest is a medium-bodied golden-to-light-copper lager. The flavor emphasis is on a firm but medium-sweet maltiness with a light malty nose. Overall, these beers are clean and nicely balanced, with some hoppy bitterness. The style emerged as a festival beer to celebrate the Bavarian wedding of Crown Prince Luitpold and Princess Therese von Sachsen-Hildburghausen in October 1810. Traditionally the style was brewed in the springtime and stored (lagered) during warmer summer months before it was consumed during autumn celebrations. Oktoberfests usually range from 4.8% to 5.7% ABV.
Background: O'so brewmaster Marc Buttera released about 1,200 cases of O-toberfest for the fall season. In years past, he has made the beer for draught accounts, but with a new production brewery, he's expanded what he can offer in six-packs. Buttera has previously made Oktoberfests as ales and lagers. This year he's committed to the traditions of Märzen-style lager brewing, making it with Munich and Vienna malts alongside German hops. O-toberfest lagered for about three months before it was released. It finishes around 6% ABV, and sells for around $9/six-pack.
If you're looking to celebrate Oktoberfest, the O'so brewery in Plover joins in the local community festivities on Saturday, October 6. A few other celebrations include the annual Essen Haus festivities in Madison on Saturday, September 15; Oktoberfest events in Chippewa Falls and Plymouth over the weekend of September 21-23; and Oktoberfest U.S.A. in La Crosse, which runs from Friday, September 28 through Saturday, October 6. Oktoberfest Milwaukee started last weekend, and continues every Friday and Saturday through the end of the month. Finally, for the traditionalist, Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany begins Saturday, September 22 and ends Sunday, October 7.
- Aroma: Light malty, with a hint of roastedness.
- Appearance: Deep amber-bronze with a ruby tint. Medium thick and soft head.
- Texture: Medium bodied and round mouthfeel.
- Taste: Firm caramel and biscuit-like malty tones.
- Finish/Aftertaste: The maltiness continues with a light roasted hint of smokiness that lingers.
Glassware: Nothing says Oktoberfest better than a heavy glass stein!
Pairs well with: O-toberfest goes well with traditional German dishes that feature pork and sausage. I found it to be a wonderful companion to a mesquite-smoked pork tenderloin roast over the Labor Day weekend. But, like any respectable Oktoberfest, it also stands up to the true test, accompanying a big, soft pretzel with sharp, grainy German mustard.
Rating: Three Bottle Openers (out of four)
The Verdict: O-toberfest is a very nice, malty-focused version of the style, with the caramel and biscuit tones making up the backbone of the beer. Overall, it's a well-balanced medium-bodied beer. There is a slight roastedness in the finish that seems to stick around -- otherwise it's a very clean Oktoberfest.