Autumn is in the air, my friends. Leaves are changing color, the crack of shoulder pads announce the birth of a new season of football, and the languorous days of summer part for the crisp air and activity of fall. Actually…no. It’s still 85 degrees in the shade and much to my chagrin it seems football season will never arrive. Then why, I must ask, have my grocer and local beer monger’s shelves been stocked with Oktoberfest beer since early August? Like holiday decorations hung in October, the re-formatting of our seasons continues. When it involves Christmas or Hanukkah, I find it annoying but expected in a way. When it involves beer, I can’t help but take it personally. Before long winter beer will be here in mid-September. And that makes me sad.
Over the next couple weeks I’ll be reviewing Oktoberfest beers. As they have been available for weeks now, I feel I cannot put off the reviews any longer. It saddens me to have to do this now, but the beer is out there and in order to stay ahead of the competition I can’t let EP become irrelevant because we are too late with our reviews. So, my hand has been forced…
In order to achieve the fall setting necessary to truly enjoy an Oktoberfest style beer, I decided to turn my AC down to 58 degrees and light a fire in my fireplace. I then dressed my children in football uniforms and told them to crash into each other at high speeds. After having achieved autumnal bliss (as well as convincing my wife I hadn’t gone insane and not to call the local asylum or child protective services), I cracked open a Leinenkugel Oktoberfest beer.
The first thing I noticed was the rich amber color. It almost screamed fall at me, until I realized the screaming was coming from daughter after my son used an illegal chop block on her. I longed for a crisp autumn evening on my deck with delicious dead animals on the grill and a Leiny in hand. Instead I was forced to watch my son disregard all known rules of football and use five downs to score on my daughter. Brought back awful memories of my freshman year at Mizzou, but I digress. As for the beer, the Munich and Carmel malts hit all the right notes. I did wish for a higher degree of bitterness, but overall I quite enjoyed it. It will provide a nice entry into the Oktoberfest style for these reviews. Kind of appropriate because to me Leiny’s offerings are what I describe as “gateway beer.” As this was my first experience with Leiny’s Oktoberfest, I would describe myself as impressed but not blown away. Kind of like most of Leiny’s beer. Always a solid choice, but there is usually something better if you are willing to spend a few more dollars. On the other hand, if I go to a gathering or party and Leiny is offered I am usually quite pleased and grateful.
I have noticed that Sunset Wheat on tap is noticeably better than from the bottle. I wonder if that would apply to Oktoberfest. I hope my local pub — Aubree’s — will switch out the Sunset Wheat for Oktoberfest so I can find out for myself. But hopefully they can at least wait until football season has kicked off.