In the era of the craft beer boom, standing out is more important than ever. AleSmith Brewing Company has done exactly that with its excellent Speedway Stout and its variants. AleSmith even does hoppy well with its flagship IPA and .394 Pale Ale. But in tackling another saturated style—the Oktoberfest—is where the San Diego-based brewery falls a little short. With AleSchmidt, AleSmith leans on the style’s hallmark malty sweetness a bit too heavily, and the resulting offering fails to impress.
AleSchmidt’s can is emblazoned with Oktoberfest’s traditional blue and white diamond pattern. The beer within is a rich caramel amber that lacks the clarity of most märzens while avoiding anything close to haze. A full, tightly bubbled head forms quickly atop the beer, but it quickly falls away, leaving behind only a trace at the edges of the glass.
AleSmith’s Oktoberfest has a light and subtle aroma. Grain dominates what nose is present, portending a malt-dependant flavor. Really straining and leaning into the glass doesn’t reveal much more except faint hints of caramel, nut, and toastiness. It’s an aroma that is both inoffensive and unimpressive.
It's a beer I’d drink again—and enjoy—while immediately forgetting I’d ever had it.”
While the initial taste brings more flavor than expected from the aroma, it is mostly one-note: malt. Grain sweetness is the dominant flavor, with very little else to distract from the malt-heavy profile. Much like the aroma, there is little in the flavor to complain about, but nothing wows either. Light caramel, toffee, nut, and toasted bread peek through at times over a lighter body that keeps the beer from becoming too sweet and rich.
Another flavor note could greatly improve AleSchmidt. Whether it’s a crisper and more effervescent body, an earthy noble hop punch, or added bitter roastiness, this beer needs something to separate it from the pack of faintly German-style lagers appearing across shelves and tap lists each fall. It's a beer I’d drink again—and enjoy—while immediately forgetting I’d ever had it. Maybe if I’d slugged it from a boot-shaped glass I’d appreciate the thinner body and lack of heavy flavor, but as it stands, AleSmith’s Oktoberfest doesn’t hold up well to a more focused tasting.