I'm sure that there will be a few new American made O-Fests popping up this year, and I'll definitely give them a try. I hope I find a winner...It's one of my favorite lager styles.
prof - Left Hand and Gordon Biersch are pretty good American versions. Left Hand was best 2 years ago - last year's was good but not as spot on.
I agree SA Fest isn't meh - its not too bad, and I'll probably drink at least a six packs worth before the season is over (but after its actually begun ) its one of SA's better products, IMO. I just get too much of a caramelly thing going on rather than a toasty malt flavor and the latter, to me, is one of my favorite facets of the style. I love vienna malt.
Thanks for reminding me about the Gordon Biersch! I did have some of that while in Los Angeles early this year and it was quite good. It would be nice if that one were more available here in NJ...it would definitely be on my short list of commercial beers that I still buy.
I agree with your take on the SA and also that it's one of their better products... and you're also right that the caramel flavors (while good) are no substitute for those toasty, "round" malt flavors.