It’s that time of year again, when the leaves begin to change, sweaters are unpacked, and Germans ready themselves for another Oktoberfest. Harpoon Brewery in Windsor, Vermont has been celebrating this season since 1990 when they first released their Märzen style Octoberfest beer. The brewery recently released their 2017 edition to celebrate the beginning of fall.
Märzen style beer originated in Bavaria with the name coming from the month of March, or Märzen, when the brewing process for this beer began. With humid and hot summers in the Bavaria region, it made it difficult to brew during the summertime. By starting a slow brewing process in March, the Märzenbier would be ready to drink come autumn.
Harpoon’s Octoberfest beer is in the typical Märzen style, which generally includes a full to medium-body, an alcohol content between five and six percent, a dark color, and a distinct hoppiness. Harpoon’s version has an alcohol content at 5.3%, with the blend of German Munich malts combining well with the chocolate and pale malts. The trio combines to bring forward a sweet malty beer that is balanced well with the slight bitterness present in the hops.
The beer itself is amber-brown in color, nearly the color of Vermont maple syrup (the real stuff, not the corn syrup stuff). Octoberfest is a filtered beer, despite its dark color you can see right through it. The beer is not overly carbonated but you’ll occasionally see the effervescence bubbling up in the glass.
This beer is bold, sweet, bitter, and most of all, malty.”
The thick off-white, even tannish head is firm, but very quickly dissipates to a simple ring around the glass. The thickness of the foam results partly from the wheat malt added to the grist during the brewing process, though the foam does not last long.
Like most Oktoberfest beers, the aroma is dominated by sweetness, mainly caramel. The mixture of malts and hops are apparent as soon as the aroma hits the nose, but still, it’s the sweetness that shines through. When sniffing the head, you’ll notice roasted notes but once the foam dissipates, so does the aroma.
Typical of German style Märzenbiers, this beer has a full-bodied mouthfeel with minimal bitterness, though you will note some hoppiness. The taste matches the aroma in its maltiness and sweetness on the palate. As would be expected, the finish is malty and lingers on the palate, though it stays with you in a pleasant way.
This beer is bold, sweet, bitter, and most of all, malty. It’s a well done style in the typical German Märzenbier tradition. Unsurprisingly it would go well with sausages and kraut, though it’s good enough to stand on its own as well. While the hops and bitterness is noticeable, Harpoon’s Octoberfest beer is a well-balanced brew with the desirable sweetness and maltiness to make this a truly enjoyable autumnal treat.