08 September 2010

KOTBR #111 - Polka, Wieners, and Beer

Recently, some of the Knights of the Beer Roundtable returned to the scene of the HBG4 crime to enjoy Sun King's first Oktoberfest shindig. There was polka provided by Alpine Express. There were wieners and sauerkraut provided by King David Dogs. And, of course, cups of Oktoberfest beer provided by Sun King Brewery. Here are the notes from the Knights:

The "straight ahead (as I get) beer review" review: Clear and as orange as a beer gets, thin head, light lacing. Nose is sweet and malty, with hints of grape and just a tiny bit of grassyness.

Front is sweet followed by a spicy sort of woodsy middle - there's an element in there that I consistently have trouble identifying, but it reminded me of something. A few years ago I wore Gucci Pour Homme, a woodsy sort of cologne. A review of that cologne cleared it up - CEDAR! I love the scent and taste, and that element only serves as a compliment to the beer.

Finishes dry and tight.

Oktoberfest is a style beer, surely - you don't hop it up or go off the deep end with it - but I think this is as well-made a beer as Sun King has ever done. Addictively drinkable, tasty in every way. But.. it's an Oktoberfest - Is an Oktoberfest ever worth getting excited over? I can't say it's my favorite style, though this one could sway me. In any case, I can't find fault in it, so it gets the same score as Osiris. 4.17 mugs.

I am a fan of big beers. High IBU’s. High ABV’s. Barrel aged. Imperial anything. Go big or go home.

I have found myself in recent months appreciating the simpler things. While I enjoy over-the-top brewing, I’m also renewing my appreciation for beers that are done close-to-style with a balance that everybody can enjoy.

Sun King’s Oktoberfest is one of those beers. I say that knowing well that when someone calls a beer an Oktoberfest, it could fit a variety of beers with differing characteristics. So I’m going to do something I never do in my write-ups at Hoosier Beer Geek: reference a style guide. In particular, I’m referencing the Brewers Association 2010 Beer Style Guidelines for Märzens (which is the style that Sun King brewed to; it should be pointed out that the BA has an additional style called “German-Style Oktoberfest/Wiesen (Meadow)”):
Märzens are characterized by a medium body and broad range of color. They can range from golden to reddish orange. Sweet maltiness should dominate slightly over a clean hop bitterness. Malt character should be light-toasted rather than strongly caramel (though a low level of light caramel character is acceptable). Bread or biscuit-like malt character is acceptable in aroma and flavor. Hop aroma and flavor should be low but notable. Ale-like fruity esters should not be perceived. Diacetyl and chill haze should not be perceived.
So how does Sun King’s Oktoberfest compare? It is rusty orange in color and clear. It is clean in aroma with little hint of hops. It is crisp and dry with a malty sweetness that doesn’t linger. The hops are there, but play a minor role in the total performance. So definitely to the Märzen style.

But I don’t judge beers. Which is why I rarely reference the style guidelines. In fact, in my world, you would pour me a beer, tell me it is “Beer #4815162342” and I would say “That’s a good beer!” or “That’s a bad beer!” or something in between. I don’t like getting too hung up on styles.

Sun King’s Beer #4815162342 (aka Oktoberfest) is a good beer. In fact, it is a very good beer. And I rate this beer the same way I rate every beer: if placed side-by-side with other beers I’ve rated, which beers would I pick to drink on any given day over this beer? And my answer: not many.

If this beer were not seasonal, I would drink it on a regular basis. While its style is normally associated with fall seasonals, I think it is light enough in body and maltiness that it would stand up against summer beers as well. I would happily select this beer on a daily basis if it were available.

That is why I’m giving this beer a 4.3 mug rating. And you should be thankful that I didn’t try to write this review as a polka! Prost!

An absolutely fabulous time was had at Sun King's Oktoberfest. King David Dogs, Alpine Express, and Oktoberfest beer - I love all three and was excited to see them come together.

What I loved most about the beer though was that I just wanted more. There aren't many times where I'll order a second of a beer, even if I really like it. By my third, I decided that this beer must really suit my palate. Its flavor is sweet and malty and it is a fond reminder of the approaching seasonal change. And just like fall, I wish this beer would be around much, much longer.

Ein Prosit, Ein Prosit, der Gemütlichkeit
Ein Prosit, Ein Prosit, der Gemütlichkeit
(Cheer!) Eins, zwei, drei g'suffa!

Zicke, zacke, zicke, zacke, hoi, hoi, hoi,
Zicke, zacke, zicke, zacke, hoi, hoi, hoi,

Sun King Oktoberfest
Mike: 4.19 | Jason: 4.30 | Gina: 4.34
KOTBR Score: 4.27 Mugs

Sun King Brewing
135 N. College Ave.


  1. Really, Mike? Oktoberfest isn't a beer you go after? ;)

    It's one of my seasonal favorite exercises: head to a good beer store and get a sixer or twelve of the oktoberfest variety to compare. Yeah, they're a lot a like, but there's a message in brewing a good Oktoberfest, and it pretty much says "I'm bad ass."

  2. Unfortunately(?), I don't drink enough of anything anymore to go buy a sixer or twelve of anything. I'm still trying to make my way through beer we bought almost a year ago when we got way ahead of ourselves.

    If I were to drink 6 or 12 samples, it'd be for this site... and as it turns out, that's on the agenda..

    But does oktoberfest turn me on as a style? No, not really. Actually, to quote an email I got from another Knight a little less than a year ago:

    Can we do an Oktoberfest roundtable sometime soon? I want to show the world that they suck. We've apparently reviewed three, all in different roundtables:

    3.00 Spaten
    2.88 Weihenstephaner
    2.51 Berghoff

    I think it's a bunch of forgetful beer consumers out there that instinctively grab Oktoberfest beer whenever it's October -- forgetting that they don't actually like it until they get home and pop one open -- that keeps this horrible seasonal trend alive. Breweries brew what people buy, so I blame the consumer.

    Oktoberfest beer sucks.

    Now, I didn't write that, but when I read it I didn't exactly disagree...

  3. Whoever wrote that email was onto something.

  4. Granted, I am biased, and prefer big hoppy beers. But you are on to something, there is something so inviting about this beer that one cannot help but order another, and another. Even my hopheads friends agree, go figure?

  5. Whoever said Oktoberfest beers suck is full of crap. Now a lot of American Oktoberfest beers suck, I will agree with that.

    If I was around when you guys reviewed the German ones those scores would be higher.