CONNECTICUT BEER OF THE WEEK!
Style: Märzen / Oktoberfest
Brewer: Back East Brewing Company
Location: Bloomfield, CT
The last weekend of September is a fantastic few days to chill out. Call it an intermission between the two best seasons of the year, but think about where we’re at in the calendar year. You’ve probably hit up an orchard already and dominated a plum tomato pizza pie too — both of those activities are best in late August and the first half of September. That last beach trip must be in the books as well. Sure there might be an impromptu rush for one final swim on a super nice day, but with temperatures dropping, you’ve likely tied the knot on the 2018 beach season. Plus, SHARKS ARE EVERYWHERE!
Oktoberfest is certainly in full swing, but a lot of American fests don’t follow the same timeline as Munich’s — as such you might’ve attended one in the last three weeks. Prime leaf-peeping is hurtling towards us, but it’s not quite here yet and Columbus Day Weekend is in seven days — an event you’ve surely made big plans for already. The rest of October — well it’s going to be packed, it’s the best month of the year by a country mile.
Indeed, you’re in a purgatory between excellent things you’ve already done and spooktacular events that have yet to come. Thus it’s a great week to head to your local liquor store and grab Back East’s Octoberfest —our Connecticut Beer of the Week — to enjoy this seminal style of late September and relax. And why should it be Back East’s version of Oktoberfest’s signature beer — because the Feast and the Froth has scoured local liquor stores, tried all the Märzens there ever was — and came back to you with a goddamned winner.
We tried Hofbrau, Paulaner, Ayinger, Sam Adams, Two Roads, Berkshire Brewing Company, Jack Abbey’s, and Von Trapp — and by a narrow margin Back East won. Sadly, The Feast and the Froth has a day job and can’t travel to every CT brewery to hit up all the fresh seasonals, so when I’m picking the best Oktoberfest beer, the search was limited to what most could find at a decent Connecticut packy.
Taste is subjective — so I guess I should describe the parameters on what these beers were judged by. The German imports were bought as a baseline of what the big breweries around Munich were producing. I definitely err towards the American versions which prioritize a bigger malt profile, tend to clock-in at a slightly higher ABV, yet still retain that clean lager finish. Back East’s poured a beautiful dark copper color. With sunlight, it was slightly translucent, without sunlight you could barely see through the glass. The beer was accompanied by a hefty foam and it’s lace held throughout the tasting. Back East utilizes Munich Malt for their Oktoberfest, but you don’t really get that sweet hit until the middle of the sip. The first taste is just that of a clean, cold lager, followed by some malty goodness, and finishing with a genuine crisp. The weight of the lager is noticeable too, but not overwhelming. True to the style, I could be happy drinking this on a seventy degree sunny afternoon or a cool early fall evening which hints at the changing of the season.
Ultimately balance is what took it home for Back East. I really loved the Berkshire Brewing Company’s Märzen — it was a close second — and I could make the argument that I’d prefer that brew and it’s absolutely decadent malt profile over Back East’s version in the colder half of the year. Yet Back East just nails what an Oktoberfest beer really should be. A netherworld between a crisp light lager and a dark dunkel, with the best elements of both omnipresent in every sip. Buy it, try it, you won’t be disappointed!
Where to buy it! Back East Brewery itself and local liquor stores throughout Connecticut. It’s distributed quite well.
Local Comparisons! Two Roads Ok2berfest Marzen was the only other Connecticut Märzen I saw in package stores. Try Back East, Berkshire, and Two Roads alongside each other for a proper local tasting.
CT Beer Events! If you don’t want to relax this weekend…Half Full is holding an OktoBEERfest at the North Lawn & Grand Steps of Mill River Park in Stamford from 2pm-9pm this Saturday. Tickets for entry are $20, each beer after that is $6 — the cut off for beer is 8:30pm. They’ll have 12 Food Trucks, with each putting an Oktoberfest spin to a portion of their menu. Pretty cool. With live music throughout, should be a great time.