Fall in Texas may conjure up images of football first, but a pair of lederhosen and some brats shouldn’t be far behind. Particularly in the central part of the state, German heritage has long been a part of Lone Star tradition. Back in the early 1800s, German immigrants came to the then Republic of Texas looking to establish a cultural outpost, and over time a unique German-Texan identity emerged.
So when fall hits in places like Fredericksburg and New Braunfels, there’s no shortage of excitement for the annual Oktoberfest. And among central Texas brewers, no one sticks to the original script like Austin’s Live Oak Brewing Company. For 21 years, this craft brewery has pledged to “employ an old-world style of brewing rarely found in America but practiced extensively throughout central Europe.” If European beer suits your palate, this is your go-to choice for the familiar (hefeweizens, pilsners) and the less so (like Grodziskie, a Polish smoked beer). So for the season’s biggest drinking celebration, Live Oak has naturally has the most appropriate offering: Oaktoberfest, a true Munich-style “festbier.”
Appearance and Aroma
Live Oak makes an amber lager called Big Bark year-round, and Oaktoberfest pours with an equally rich color and luscious-looking head. But a whiff of Oaktoberfest suggests this is something different. Subtle citrus notes—vaguely lemon-y, though maybe more apricot—arrive first, but the overwhelming aroma belongs to the malt involved. For the senses, this certainly qualifies as a classic bier.
It’s incredibly easy to imagine yourself surviving an entire day of Oktoberfest celebrations and cooling down with this festbier.”
It’s easy to taste what’s festbier-y about Oaktoberfest. Very low bitterness pairs with a light mouthfeel and a crisp, quick finish for an absolutely sessionable beer, even if the 5.8% ABV is perhaps slightly high. It’s incredibly easy to imagine yourself surviving an entire day of Oktoberfest celebrations—the heavy sausage meals, the non-stop dancing and singing, the custom garments that perhaps could breathe a bit more—and cooling down with this festbier. The malt wins out again with only the slightest bit of citrus.
Live Oak’s hefeweizen,Live Oak Hefe, is the kind of beer that reliably appears on every tap list around Austin because it’s infinitely drinkable, and Oaktoberfest offers a similar proposition within its seasonal window. The problem with Oaktoberfest, however, is that the clean finish that makes it so sessionable also makes it a bit less enjoyable if you’re more the sip-and-savor type. It would be an excellent addition to your favorite German beer bread recipe, but you may want to move on to something that feels a bit fuller-bodied after finishing your first can.