Welcome Autumn with BBC Oktoberfest lager

Date: 9/20/2010

Sept. 20, 2010

By Chris Maza

Reminder Assistant Editor

This month, in honor of fall, I am going to review an Oktoberfest or Octoberfest -- lager.

For many, this style of beer hitting the shelves and being seen on tap at local watering holes is the unofficial end of summer.

Especially in this area, people are enamored with the Oktoberfest-style lager, thanks in large part to Samuel Adams' version, which, in my opinion, happens to be their best seasonal brew. Oktoberfests, named after the German festival in Munich, are darker lagers that usually are malty in nature, while light on hops. This is the type of beer that tends to leave you with a warm feeling as the nip of autumn starts to set in.

I decided to give The Berkshire Brewing Company's (BBC) take on the style a try, given their stellar and growing reputation throughout the Northeast. With a multitude of satisfying brews that don't break the bank, the South Deerfield-based brewery that calls itself "Western Massachusetts' best kept secret" is quickly being outed as one of the best microbreweries in the region.

Available 64-ounce growlers and 22-ounce bomber bottles, as well as kegs and priced reasonably, the BBC Oktoberfest is extremely accessible to the general public.

At this point, most area package stores worth their salt have caught onto the popularity of BBC and have started carrying at least a limited supply of it.

I decided to give this beer a try on tap at a local bar, as opposed to a bottle.

Upon being served this beer, I noted the very nice, dark copper color -- even darker than most other Oktoberfests I've had -- with a foamy, white head. When I put the glass to my lips to taste it, the sweetness that hit my nose surprised me a bit with hints of butterscotch and molasses.

The taste test confirmed what my sense of smell suggested. The smooth, medium-bodied beer was, indeed, sweeter than most beers of its kind, but was not overpoweringly so. Some claim to taste pumpkin in the beer, but I did not pick up on that.

Instead, light hints of caramel, toffee and molasses made this an enjoyable beer with a sweet finish.

Because of its unique taste and the consistent, medium body, this beer is very easy to drink and won't leave you feeling like you just ate Thanksgiving dinner, a common complaint about darker beers from the casual beer drinker.

That's not to say you can have four or five glasses and expect to be fine. While not heavy in body, it is heavy in terms of alcohol content. In fact, at 6.8 percent alcohol by volume, it's best to let someone else do the driving or stay put if you plan on having more than one of these.

By sweetening things up just a little bit, BBC has done a terrific job of putting a new spin on a classic, traditional style of beer that has been around since the 1800s.

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