Add Colorado-based Odell Brewing Co. to the list of craft stalwarts taking a stab at an Oktoberfest. Odell’s spin on the märzen-style lager features the time-tested pairing of Munich malts and noble hops. The resulting beer is understated, but it shouldn’t be underappreciated.
As the beer cascades from the can, it’s clear that Odell’s Oktoberfest is more American in style (rich, sweet caramel) than German (straw-colored and light). It’s deep amber body has a reddish hue and a thin white head that fades in the middle while lingering some at the collar. The beer is slightly hazy as I try to peek through, with minimal activity as only a few bubbles rise up the glass.
The aroma is subtle, but what is there is characteristic of the style: sweet Munich maltiness and spicy noble hops. Odell’s Oktoberfest smells of biscuits, caramel, and grain, with just more than a whisper of the complex herbal and light citrus of its noble hop bill. While the nose is subdued, the notes present are enticing enough to demand a sip.
Doing simple and straightforward well can be more difficult than executing more adventurous styles.”
Odell’s märzen-style lager is straightforward in its malt focus. Sweet, bready malt is central in every taste, with added notes of caramel, honey, and toffee. The hops take a backseat to the biscuity Munich malt, but they fill an important role, serving as a very necessary foil to the sweetness. The herbal, spicy, and lightly citrus noble hops balance out all of that malt flavor. At 6.1% ABV, Odell’s Oktoberfest is slightly boozier than most, though I’d hardly have guessed it, as alcohol heat isn’t present in this medium- to light-bodied easy drinker.
Straightforward, sweet, subdued, subtle—these aren’t the kind of words that typically describe a good beer. But in the Oktoberfest category, they are the hallmarks of Americanized takes on the style. Odell’s Oktoberfest does little to distinguish itself from the malty sweet märzens crowding the market every fall, but that isn’t an indictment. Doing simple and straightforward well can be more difficult than executing more adventurous styles, and Odell checks all of the Oktoberfest boxes with this lager—even if it doesn’t wow.