Oktoberfests are sometimes generalized as VMOs because of the overlap between the Vienna Lager, Märzen, and Oktoberfest styles.
Bell’s Oktoberfest is a great beer for when the evenings are getting colder, or in our case just as warm but rainy.
The main thing you notice from an Oktoberfest should be the malt. I enjoy a caramel sweetness in the finish that stays with you, almost cloying, and when the color also evokes caramel. There are definitely dryer and lighter takes on the style too. Bell’s hits the malt notes I love.
The malt should be balanced with noble hops. I couldn’t tell you what Bell’s is using, however I recently had Devil’s Backbone’s Vienna Lager and loved the taste of Saaz hops in the style. As a point of reference, Saaz is the signature hop taste of Bell’s Oberon.
Another Oktoberfest I’ve loved, at the suggestion of my brother Charles, is Ayinger Oktober Fest-Märzen. That my be the best example of the style available. If you can find a bottle this fall I strongly recommend you pick one up. I also really enjoyed Flying Dog’s Dogtoberfest although I haven’t seen it in Southeast Michigan in a few years.
On the flip side is Sam Adams’ Octoberfest. It’s a super tasty beer! But it doesn’t have the toasty sweet malt or noble hops I’m looking for in an Oktoberfest. It might be because I have killed my taste buds and need more malt & hops, but I look for more in an Oktoberfest.
Are there any other VMOs I should check out?