Author Topic: Sam Adams Oktoberfest  (Read 699 times)

Offline KellerBrauer

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Sam Adams Oktoberfest
« on: September 26, 2019, 12:11:19 PM »
Sam Adams Oktoberfest happens to be one of my favorite seasonal beers.  As such, I’ve been trying to clone it.  The problem I’ve realized is my version never finishes with the sweet malty finish like the SA does.  So, do you think that sweetness is gained by lower attenuation or by do you think they add a non-fermenting sweetener, i.e, lactose?  I’ve tried different yeast strains intended for this style, but they all seem to attenuate out the same.  So maybe SA doesn’t use an Oktoberfest yeast strain???
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Offline Kevin

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Re: Sam Adams Oktoberfest
« Reply #1 on: September 26, 2019, 02:41:37 PM »
I'm not a fan of the SA Oktoberfest. I find it too sweet. This year I've been drinking Erdinger Oktoberfest.
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Offline Robert

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Re: Sam Adams Oktoberfest
« Reply #2 on: September 26, 2019, 04:46:49 PM »
Sam's is definitely in the distinctly American, crafty, "Oktoberfest" style, which bears no resemblance to any German style.  The American ones are sweet and caramelly, and rather strong and full bodied.  So a German yeast, which produces a well attenuated, crisp, dry, and very drinkable beer, will not get you the sweet, heavy American result you're after.
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Online denny

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Re: Sam Adams Oktoberfest
« Reply #3 on: September 26, 2019, 04:57:17 PM »
I can pretty much guarantee you there's no lactose
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Offline kramerog

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Re: Sam Adams Oktoberfest
« Reply #4 on: September 26, 2019, 05:26:35 PM »
Sam's is definitely in the distinctly American, crafty, "Oktoberfest" style, which bears no resemblance to any German style.  The American ones are sweet and caramelly, and rather strong and full bodied.  So a German yeast, which produces a well attenuated, crisp, dry, and very drinkable beer, will not get you the sweet, heavy American result you're after.

The caramelly could be from caramel malts which are not part of the traditional German Oktoberfest style but are permissible in sweeter German styles.

Offline Megary

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Re: Sam Adams Oktoberfest
« Reply #5 on: September 26, 2019, 05:38:24 PM »
Sam's website lists the grains as:
"Samuel Adams two-row pale malt blend, Munich-10, Samuel Adams Octoberfest malt, and Caramel 60".

No idea what Octoberfest malt is.
No idea of the percentages.

Offline tommymorris

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Re: Sam Adams Oktoberfest
« Reply #6 on: September 26, 2019, 06:57:50 PM »
Sam's website lists the grains as:
"Samuel Adams two-row pale malt blend, Munich-10, Samuel Adams Octoberfest malt, and Caramel 60".

No idea what Octoberfest malt is.
No idea of the percentages.
Octoberfest malt reminds me of the NY City pizza water.

Offline Robert

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Re: Sam Adams Oktoberfest
« Reply #7 on: September 26, 2019, 07:19:33 PM »
Sam's website lists the grains as:
"Samuel Adams two-row pale malt blend, Munich-10, Samuel Adams Octoberfest malt, and Caramel 60".

No idea what Octoberfest malt is.
No idea of the percentages.
Octoberfest malt reminds me of the NY City pizza water.
Ha! Good one!
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Offline KellerBrauer

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Re: Sam Adams Oktoberfest
« Reply #8 on: September 27, 2019, 11:23:26 AM »
All good responses - thank you.  I read someplace that Berke Munich Malt is a Malt traditionally used on the Oktoberfest style.  So perhaps Berke Munich is the “Oktoberfest Malt”.

Robert, I found your response to be the most interesting.  I guess it never dawned on me that there would be an American and a German version of this style.  Now, you say the American versions are sweet and full bodied as opposed to the German versions that are crisp, dry and very drinkable.  I assume you mean a beer more like a session beer; and that description more closely resembles the Märzen.  Your description is also aligned with the description I got from my brother who recently returned from Germany.  He explained that the German people wanted a beer that was lighter, crisper and dryer than the traditional Oktoberfest and they called it a Märzen.  (The story he told is actually much more complicated, but.....)

Also interesting is that 2008 BJCP lists SA Oktoberfest as a Commercial Example of the style where SA is NOT listed in the 2015 BJCP for this style.  In fact the name “Oktoberfest” is dropped entirely from 2015 BJCP.
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Offline jeffy

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Re: Sam Adams Oktoberfest
« Reply #9 on: September 27, 2019, 12:24:35 PM »
All good responses - thank you.  I read someplace that Berke Munich Malt is a Malt traditionally used on the Oktoberfest style.  So perhaps Berke Munich is the “Oktoberfest Malt”.

Robert, I found your response to be the most interesting.  I guess it never dawned on me that there would be an American and a German version of this style.  Now, you say the American versions are sweet and full bodied as opposed to the German versions that are crisp, dry and very drinkable.  I assume you mean a beer more like a session beer; and that description more closely resembles the Märzen.  Your description is also aligned with the description I got from my brother who recently returned from Germany.  He explained that the German people wanted a beer that was lighter, crisper and dryer than the traditional Oktoberfest and they called it a Märzen.  (The story he told is actually much more complicated, but.....)

Also interesting is that 2008 BJCP lists SA Oktoberfest as a Commercial Example of the style where SA is NOT listed in the 2015 BJCP for this style.  In fact the name “Oktoberfest” is dropped entirely from 2015 BJCP.
For a good example of the Fest Bier, get some of the current Sierra Nevada/Bitburger collaboration.
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Offline majorvices

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Re: Sam Adams Oktoberfest
« Reply #10 on: September 27, 2019, 01:03:44 PM »
Sam's website lists the grains as:
"Samuel Adams two-row pale malt blend, Munich-10, Samuel Adams Octoberfest malt, and Caramel 60".

No idea what Octoberfest malt is.
No idea of the percentages.
Octoberfest malt reminds me of the NY City pizza water.

Haha!

I like the SA Oktoberfest well enough but agree that it has a lot of caramel and darker than a good Festbier. That said I thing SA delivers what a majority of Americans expect. When I brewed my first Oktoberfest at YH the universal comments were "it's not dark enough and there is not enough caramel character"... ha! That said that recipe won a Gold at the Alabama Craft Beer Championship this year so at least the judges understand!

Offline Robert

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Re: Sam Adams Oktoberfest
« Reply #11 on: September 27, 2019, 01:08:10 PM »
Märzen is the older, amber style formerly associated with Oktoberfest.   It is very well attenuated, made from some light Munich or Vienna malt as well as Pilsner, crisp, dry, drinkable.  Since at least the 1970s the beer served at Oktoberfest has been what is called Festbier to distinguish it.  It is basically an export strength (5.5% ABV, about like the Märzen) Helles, so it is even MORE crisp, dry and drinkable.  The point of any Oktoberfest beer has always been to be eminently drinkable.  You spend all day and night in the tents pounding away until the brewery has all your money.  The American style that has emerged in the craft era is characterized by a lot more strength in many cases, a lot of caramel/crystal malt and darker Munich type malts, and has a very full, sweet impression.   Sam Adams is but one example.   I haven't found a single American made beer this year that is in either German style, and it's more confusing that they interchangeably label them Festbier, Märzen, Oktoberfest,  or some variant, without seemingly having any clear meaning.   As for this year's Sierra Nevada entry, it is baffling to me.  Not only not at all German, it isn't even in the general American style.  But I suppose very SN.  Gobs of crystal malt, hardly very drinkable, but with a hop character that just doesn't balance at all.  I am shocked that Bitburger allowed their name to be attached to it.  Their only contribution was some of their contract grown hops, no input on formulation.

One key to understanding German festival beers is that they are meant for festivals.  For drinking in quantity, and to wash down lots of roast chicken and pretzels.  Over the centuries, they've gone from brown to amber to pale, but essentially they have always been just a slightly stronger but even more crushable version of whatever the mainstream style of the day was.  I'm not well versed in the history of the American craft style, but it seems to me the inspiration was more along the lines of a rich, warming seasonal to sip on chilly nights in the pumpkin patch.  An entirely unrelated class of beers, but legitimate in their own right.
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Offline jeffy

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Re: Sam Adams Oktoberfest
« Reply #12 on: September 27, 2019, 01:20:37 PM »
As for this year's Sierra Nevada entry, it is baffling to me.  Not only not at all German, it isn't even in the general American style.  But I suppose very SN.  Gobs of crystal malt, hardly very drinkable, but with a hop character that just doesn't balance at all.  I am shocked that Bitburger allowed their name to be attached to it.  Their only contribution was some of their contract grown hops, no input on formulation.
That was not the impression I had with this year's version.  Perhaps your sample was oxidized?
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Offline Robert

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Re: Sam Adams Oktoberfest
« Reply #13 on: September 27, 2019, 01:23:19 PM »
As for this year's Sierra Nevada entry, it is baffling to me.  Not only not at all German, it isn't even in the general American style.  But I suppose very SN.  Gobs of crystal malt, hardly very drinkable, but with a hop character that just doesn't balance at all.  I am shocked that Bitburger allowed their name to be attached to it.  Their only contribution was some of their contract grown hops, no input on formulation.
That was not the impression I had with this year's version.  Perhaps your sample was oxidized?
Nope.  Nice and fresh.  I see what they're doing.  Just way out of style. 
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Offline BrewBama

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Re: Sam Adams Oktoberfest
« Reply #14 on: September 27, 2019, 01:47:10 PM »
I am shocked that Bitburger allowed their name to be attached to it.

I recently watched a segment on the Country Music Business. A striking comment was “they had a guitar in on hand and a briefcase in the other.”  The performers wanted to return to their roots but the businessmen were selling records. When ask what the ‘Nashville Sound’ was, Chet Atkins put his hand in his pocket and jingled his change saying “That’s the Nashville Sound.” 

Once realizing Bit can place their name on a SN beer intended for a very large market, the return on investment makes sound business sense. ...regardless of the history of the brand or the style. The name on the bottle takes second fiddle to the sales report.


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