As it was the end of September when I made my trip to Wisconsin, I thought picking up a couple seasonals would be a good idea, especially an Oktoberfest or two. I chose the Central Waters Brewing Company Octoberfest out of a bunch of their beers that were available at Riley’s World of Wines, but I was unfortunately disappointed by my choice. According to what I read on BeerAdvocate, Central Waters makes some good beers, but this didn’t seem to be one of them, for me.
The Oktoberfest style is a German amber lager that was traditionally brewed in the spring, then cellared or caved during the summer and enjoyed at harvest festivals in the autumn, hence their name. There is a wide variation of Oktoberfest beers, ranging from the golden, pilsner or Helles-like beers to the more amber, fuller flavored export style. American breweries tend to use the Oktoberfest as a fall seasonal beer, and true to tradition, usually brew them bigger and stronger as they would be used as a “fest” beer (think oompa-loompa polka bands, hot German chicks in dresses with low collars and giant steins of fest beer!).
Oktoberfest beers as a whole tend to be rich and malty, but finish a little dry rather than sweet. They are lagers, so they should be clean and without much caramel or hops, but maybe a light toasty flavor.
I was drinking the Central Waters beer out of a plastic hotel cup, so I wasn’t able to enjoy the appearance of the beer. The aroma was relatively clean with plenty of biscuity, malty notes. I was quite disappointed, however, in both the watery mouthfeel of the beer as well as the strange flavor. It was unlike any Oktoberfest I’ve ever had, but not in a good way. There was some sulfur, and maybe some DMS vegetal type of flavors, maybe even some hops, but none of the richness one would expect from this style. I was highly disappointed in the Central Waters Oktoberfest, and wouldn’t luck have it that with a huge cooler full of great beers I picked a loser! On a happy note, though, the beer wasn’t pour-down-the-drain bad by any stretch (although I wouldn’t have looked forward to a second), and out of 13 beers that I drank from Wisconsin, this was the only one that was marginal, with the rest being exceptional. So, that’s not a bad track record in anyone’s book!