The first beer barrel was tapped by the mayor of Munich last Saturday marking the official beginning of Oktoberfest. But it is not just the Bavarians that are celebrating. Oktoberfest has turned into a worldwide celebration, and there are many craft brewers in the United States releasing Oktoberfest-style beers. One of my favorites is Festbier by Victory Brewing Company.
Festbier pours a beautiful ruby-brown mahogany with a thick, but fleeting, white head. The beer’s color hints at a generous use of more dark malts which help distinguish the Oktoberfest/Märzen-style from other lagers. The nose also picks up on the roasted malts; however, the dominant aroma is that of yams or freshly carved pumpkins.
The beer’s body was unexpectedly thick and creamy for a lager. After an initial awakening from the carbonation, the tongue first picks up malt sweetness with some biscuit flavors and that of baked sweet potato. A well-balanced hop bite on the middle of the tongue acts to separate the malt flavor contributions. The hop bitterness rather quickly fades into a roasted malt bitterness which takes over and continues to dominate the aftertaste. The roasted malt bitterness is even stronger than the color of the beer suggests. As the long aftertaste begins to fade, there is a lingering flavor similar to a slightly oversteeped black tea which is a good postscript for this solid beer.
The Victory Festbier is a fall seasonal release. It is available in 6 packs of 12 ounce bottles for around 10 bucks.
I am not a big fan of overly sweet beers and usually shy away from Oktoberfest/Märzen-style beers because of this. However, that is not the case here. The roasted malt and hop contributions in the Victory Festbier keep me saying, “Mehr, bitte.”
Bikepacker Friendliness (glass bottles aren’t ideal but this beer tastes good even warm): 6/10
Aroma (malty but subtle): 7/10
Flavor (roasty and complex): 8/10
Style Appropriateness (more roasty than most but this keeps it from being overly sweet): 7/10