Despite summer’s last hurray this week, fall is right around the corner. And while pumpkin beers are already lining the shelves of better beer stores and bodegas alike, is best to let those sit for a while (or – in the case of Southern Tier’s Pumking – buy them up and store them) and enjoy the original fall seasonal; the Oktoberfest beer. Without getting all beer-geeky, back in the days before refrigeration (or if you live in a Brooklyn apartment like I do) it was impossible to control temperatures and brew in the summer. So in March (hence Oktoberfest beer’s other name, Märzen) a dark, copper beer of higher alcohol would brewed and stored up through the summer months to be enjoyed in the fall.
Well, fall is upon us and while I’ll be spending the next few month’s enjoy traditional examples of the oktoberfest style from Ayinger, Spaten and Weihenstephaner, American brewers are once again bringing a new twist on the traditional.
That means its the perfect time to time to pull out Avery’s The Kaiser Imperial Oktoberfest, an 9.3% ABV punched up version of the traditional brewed annually in August and released the following year. Like all Oktoberfest beers, The Kaiser has a big malty backbone, amber-brown color and bone-white head. It wafts like caramels, marshmallow fluff and assorted dark malts. But where The Kaiser really stands out is in the taste as it is filled with powerful candied-apple flavors, underlying hints of lime peel, subtle floral notes and a very pronounced, spicy finish. The combination of red-apple flavors and a peppery finish really makes The Kaiser a unique beer with a lot of complexity when you want it and a good old fashioned drinking beer when you don. Plus, with a manageable price tag, it’s one that you can revisit throughout the season. Its worth noting that The Kaiser does pack an obvious presence of alcohol but seeing how it has already aged a year before it hits the shelves, I think aging it further would only mute the unique pepper notes and is not worth the trade off.
Style: Imperial Oktoberfest
Brewery: Avery (Boulder, CO)
Hop Variety: Magnum, Sterling, Tettnang, Hersbrucker
Malt Variety: Two-row barley, Vienna, Munich 10L, m-100, aromatic
Availability: annual, limited release