Beer Review: Untied Brewing’s Raspberry Decadent Darkness

Name: Decadent Darkness (2021 Raspberry)
Brewing Company: Untied Brewing Company
Location: New Providence, NJ
Style: Stout – Pastry
ABV: 12.2%

An outstanding pastry/dessert stout that elegantly balances adjuncts with the beer elements.

Untied-DD-Rasp-F

From the untapped page for the beer:

Imperial Pastry Stout conditioned with raspberries, vanilla, and cacao nibs.

I’ve been visiting Untied Brewing every couple of months, and most recently, I decided to pick up one of their pastry stouts. A few months prior, I met my dad there for Father’s Day and he got a small pour of this beer. I tasted and I enjoyed it so I wanted to have a full sampling/bottle for myself. I was impressed with their Russian Imperial Stout both times I had it, so between the sip I had previously and my experience with, hell, most of their beers, I thought I’d enjoy this one in its full glory. Those speculations were well-founded.

The beer pours thick black, or so it would seem. When I gave the beer a closer examination under the light, there was a deep red tint to the dark liquid, obviously from the raspberries.

Those raspberries take center stage in this beer, they are strong in the aroma and a first sip gives me more of that raspberry flavor. With the 12.2% ABV, sipping this beer is the way to go, so you can allow the flavors to wake up as the beer warms up. Anyway, why would you want to chug a beer with that big of an ABV.

I get chocolate hints as I enjoy more of the beer, almost like chocolate covered raspberries. Owner Matt and company really got the name correct with this beer, it is enormously decadent. What impresses me the most about this beer is that the beer elements, particularly the roasted malt that gives stouts their flavor, are not overtaken (too much) by the potent raspberry and chocolate elements.

The only flavor that doesn’t come through, to me, is the vanilla. I suppose the vanilla is more of a balancing element for the strong raspberry and chocolate flavors making this beee an ideal dessert stout.

Untied has brewed/bottled other variants of this “Decadent Darkness” line of pastry stouts – Chocolate & Peanut Butter, Chocolate, Coconut, Vanilla), Mocha, and Raspberry & Coconut, which all seem as if they are as decadent as their name would imply. Bottom line, I’ve been enjoying every beer I had from Untied Brewing and this one is no exception.

Highly Recommended, link to 4.25 bottle cap untappd rating check in.

Untapped badges earned with this beer:

 

Dessert Time! (Level 2)

Marshmallow, chocolate, apple pie! Cakes and cookies catch my eye. Churn that butter, twist and shout. Put it in a pastry stout! That’s 10 different beers with the style of Stout – Pastry, Stout – Imperial / Double Pastry. Check-in to 5 more to get to Level 3.

Untied_DD-Raspb-Backl

Draught Diversions: Odd Bird Brewing (Stockton, NJ)

Draught Diversions is the catchall label for mini-rants, think-pieces, and posts that don’t just focus on one beer here at The Tap Takeover. We hope you don’t grow too weary of the alcohol alliterative names we use…

OddBird_Sign_01

As the beer landscape in New Jersey has grown over the last decade or so, a natural element of this growth is how some of these breweries are located rather closely together. Case in point, Odd Bird Brewing in Stockton, New Jersey, which happens to be in Hunterdon County. Recently, the breweries in Hunterdon County have come together in a promotional effort as the Hunterdon Beer Trail. Patrons can get little “Passport” booklets at breweries located in Hunterdon County to be stamped and once all the breweries have been visited, patrons get a free pint glass. But on to Odd Bird Brewing…

OddBird_Sign_02

Adam Juncosa was a homebrewer, having as many as 13 beers on tap at his home for gatherings. He’s won awards at homebrewing competitions and spent some time brewing at Conclave Brewing. When he realized the town in which he lived, Stockton, didn’t have the best beer options, he and his wife Karen Malzone, a teacher in Hunterdon County, decided to open a brewery of their own. Thus Odd Bird Brewing was born.

One of the first things I asked Adam was how he came up with the name. His mom always called him an Odd Bird and it stuck. Running with that theme, Adam and Karen eventually enlisted local artist Catherine Lent to come up with the logo and branding for the brewery. This all fits in with Karen’s passion for conservation efforts.

Opening in January 2020, Adam and Karen had only a few months before the pandemic struck the world, but they were able to pivot after a brief shut down to crowler sales and eventually on-site consumption after the world adjusted to the pandemic and what social distancing meant as they were able to offer seating in an outdoor biergarten during warmer weather.

A peek inside the brewery revealed a welcoming taproom with a row of ornately designed, artistic custom blown glass taphandles created by Dan McStocker. Much of the furniture, chairs, tables, etc. were built by Karen and Adam, lending an even more personal touch to the brewery.

OddBird_Taps

I knew of Odd Bird Brewing when the brewery opened, but not too much beyond the fact that another NJ brewery opened. Over the past year, I saw a great deal of good chatter on the Beer Advocate forums about the quality of their beer and Adam’s focus on the lower-ABV classic styles like Pilsners (he won a homebrew competition for his pilsner), clean lagers, Kölsch, straight-forward English-style stout, and more traditional IPAs (as opposed to the hazy / New England / Milkshake varieties). That “chatter” had me even more inclined and interested in visiting the brewery.

The location is rather unique, especially compared to the other breweries I’ve visited in NJ. It isn’t on a main street, nor is Odd Bird Brewing located in an industrial park. Risler Avenue/NJ State Route 29 parallels the Delaware River at the southwestern end of County Road 523 – a lovely drive to be had on a late summer/early fall day. Odd Bird is located in an old auto body shop, which is in the same building/location as the Stockton Eagle gas station, and that building is next to a restaurant, Cravings. That set up/location does sort of fit in with the name of the brewery. Stockton is one of, if not the smallest, municipality in NJ with a population under 600 and just over a half-mile square in area, lending even more intimacy to the brewery.

OddBird_TapList_2021-09-11
Odd Bird Brewing’s Beer Menu, September 11, 2021

The day of my visit, the outdoor biergarten was at just about full capacity, which was no surprise because it was a gorgeous day. See my previous comment regarding what a lovely drive along NJ/Hunterdon County Road 523 the path to the brewery was. As I pointed out in my review on Tuesday, the beer that drew my immediate attention was the Extra Stockton Bitter. Prior to visiting the brewery, I’d seen that Adam brewed an Amber Lager and tapped that day, OddsBodkins. An “Amber” lager isn’t the hottest Lager style (that would be Pilsner in the craft world), which is part of what drew me to ordering the beer. Also, almost any time I see a Lager on draft in a smaller brewery, I’m going to order it. I was very pleased with this one; smooth, clean and flavorful (I realize “flavorful” is perhaps becoming the most overused word by the proprietor of The Tap Takeover).

OddBird_OddsBodkins
OddsBodkins Amber Lager, plus Crowler

When I was ordering the Lager, another patron, a young woman who seemed to be friends with Karen, was telling me how much she loves sour beers and how great Adam’s Berliner Weisse Sommer was. If I wasn’t making the drive to another brewery to continue my path towards completion of my Hunterdon Beer Trail passport, I likely would have ordered that beer. Given the quality of the two beers I enjoyed, I’ve no doubt this sour beer was on point. Another patron was strolling up to the ordering window and I recommended the ESB and the gentleman told me that was the purpose of his visit to Odd Bird, to enjoy a cask pint of the ESB. In the future, because chances are pretty good I’ll visit again, I’ll make my way through some of they other beers. In particular, I’d like to try their British-style stout Mumbletypeg Tavern Stout. Adam mentioned that he’ll be brewing a Schwarzbier, a style I came to thoroughly enjoy over the last year. Other beers typically on draft at Odd Bird would be a mix of IPAs, saisons, and other “classic” styles.

Odd Bird Brewing is, in my mind, what a quintessential local brewery should be. Great people who own it, who make delicious beer, with a unique taplist of beers that will attract more than just the immediate locals. The brewery has such a wonderful character and ambiance that is more than complimented by the classic styles brewed to near perfection.

Go visit and enjoy their delicious beer.

Some other links of interest and sources of information for this post:

Odd Bird Brewing Co. Web site | Instagram | Facebook | Odd Bird Brewing Co on NewJerseyCraftBeer.com | Beer Advocate | untappd

oddbird

Beer Review: Odd Bird Brewing’s ESB (Extra Stockton Bitter)

Name: Extra Stockton Bitter
Brewing Company: Odd Bird Brewing
Location: Stockton, NJ
Style: Extra Special / Strong Bitter
ABV: 4.3%

One of NJ’s smallest breweries has crafted an outstanding take on a classic, English pub ale.

OddBird_ESB

From the ordering page for the beer:

A malt forward amber English Ale.

Hops: Whole Leaf East Kent Goldings and Fuggles

Malt: Floor Malted Maris Otter, English Crystal Malt

ESB is perhaps the most classic of British Pub style ales. Here in America it isn’t exactly the most high profile style, so not many breweries feature the style in their rotation or on draft. But those that do brew in this style, seem to have a passion for it. Enter Odd Bird Brewing’s Extra Stockton Bitter an homage to the style with the name of the town in which the brewery resides.

I’ve only had a very small handful of ESBs and only one served in the traditional manner, via cask. Odd Bird’s take on the style is only the second I’ve enjoyed served via Cask…so when I saw this style available in this delivery method, I had to try it.

The mug I’m given is a beautiful sight. It looks exactly like I’d expect such a beer to be served were I to order it in a pub in London.

I dive right into the beer after I snap the above photo and take a seat at Odd Bird’s outdoor Biergarten. This is beer. Simple statement, but that’s what first comes to mind. Let’s unpack that…this is beer in a quintessential British style as it is meant to be. Top notch flavors from fresh ingredients crafted with care and attention. I get mild bitterness on the initial sips of Extra Stockton Bitter, which is on point. The cask delivery gives the beer an added quaff and body that enhances the flavors of the maltiness. There’s an extremely balanced and welcome sweetness on the finish of the beer.

I spent some time speaking to owner/brewer Adam about this beer and he told me the cask they have in the brewery is the same one that was in his living room prior to opening the brewery. He wasn’t able to get this style on cask so he started making it himself and wanted it in the traditional fashion so he procured a cask, specifically the Hand Pulled Beer Engine was originally from a 1970s John Smith Pub in the UK and reconditioned for use over the last few years.

This beer, for me, exemplifies why I like craft/independent beer so much. It isn’t a style you’ll find everywhere, but it is a passion project of a beer (one might say) that delivers something really special, no pun intended. If I wanted a West Coast IPA, I could walk to my local liquor store. If I wanted an American Lager, I’d head to the local bar. Nothing wrong with either style! My point is this – Odd Bird may be one of the smallest breweries in New Jersey, but the quality is outstanding, at least judging by this ESB. This beer alone makes it worth the trip to the brewery, in my humble opinion.

Highly Recommended, link to 4.5 bottle cap untappd rating check in.

Draught Diversions: Buttzville Brewing (Washington Township, NJ)

Draught Diversions is the catchall label for mini-rants, think-pieces, and posts that don’t just focus on one beer here at The Tap Takeover. We hope you don’t grow too weary of the alcohol alliterative names we use…

It is becoming a familiar story here on a couple of levels at the Tap Takeover with my brewery spotlight features… (1) home brewer turned brewery owner and (2) COVID-19 impacting a brewery’s opening. Take those elements (among others) and here I am spotlighting Buttzville Brewing Company in Washington Township (Warren County), NJ. Although owner/brewer Dave Anderson and his wife were homebrewing since 2014 (when Erin bought Dave a Homebrew kit), the name was established in 2020, and the Andersons finally opened the doors to the brewery for the public to enjoy the beers of Buttzville Brewing on July 31, 2021.

Buttzville_Door (2)
Image courtesy of Buttzville Brewing’s Web site

It is very rare for a brewery, or any business to open on their scheduled opening date. Permits, loans, construction schedules all bring wild cards into the equation that can impede any schedule. Add to that a global pandemic and Buttzville Brewing opened a little over a year after their initially scheduled opening date. Dave and Erin didn’t give up on their dream and the result: an inviting, eye-pleasing taproom where patrons can find good conversation, good people behind the business, and excellent beer.

Dave dove into homebrewing headfirst after receiving that homebrew kit and The Complete Joy of Home Brewing by Charlie Papazian as gifts from Erin. Papazian is looked upon as something like the godfather of homebrewing and is the founder of the American Homebrewers Association. Dave joined the Lehigh Valley Homebrewers club, which has spawned a couple of breweries from its members: Lost Tavern Brewing and Taylor House to name two. Dave’s passion, and Erin’s belief in Dave, helped them weather the storm of delays and a Pandemic to open the fourth brewery in Warren County, NJ (Czig Meister, Man Skirt, and Invertase being the other three), forming a nice group of breweries to visit on a day trip.

ButtzvilleTaplist_2021-09-05
Buttzville Brewing’s Taplist 09-05-2021

I’m not going to get through a piece about this brewery without remarking on the name of the brewery. Buttzville…it just makes you giggle when you say it, at least the part of me that is still an eleven-year old boy. Dave and Erin are clever enough to run with the joke as the brewery’s motto is “The Great Beer with the Cheeky Name.” They’ve carried that theme through to some of their beers, too. Frankly, if they didn’t what would have been the point of the whole endeavor? They’ve got a Milkshake IPA called “Turn the Other Cheek,” a Brown Ale (pause for laughter) called “Buttz Not to Like” so far. Dave and Erin have only registered 13 beers on untappd (having been open only over a month), but I wouldn’t be surprised to see more cheekily named brews in their future. Currently, Buttzville Brewing has 9 beers on tap, plus a seltzer.

As has become tradition (the second time something happens, I suppose allows a thing to become “tradition”), my good friend and I decided before enjoying an All Elite Wrestling Pay-Per-View event (All Out 2021, one of the best wrestling PPVs I’ve ever watched), we’d partake in some local brews. With Buttzville Brewing having opened in July 2021, we figured we’d hit up one of the newest breweries in the State, which is fairly close to where he lives.

I happened to be wearing my New Jersey Craft Beer hat (which I almost always wear when I visit breweries) and Dave commented on it, and we shared some words about how great the organization is, what a great guy Mike Kivowitz is, and the general camaraderie of the New Jersey craft beer scene.

On to the beers…..

I started the day with the Norwegian Sprinter, a blonde ale with the magical Norwegian Kviek yeast. The beer reminded me a bit of a Belgian Golden Ale, but that Kviek yeast added a nice citrusy dimension to the beer beyond what I’ve had before. At 4.7%, this is the kind of beer I could enjoy all day.

Buttzville_NorweiganSprinter

The second beer I enjoyed was the Milk Stout with the ingenious name, Just Butt I Needed. I was impressed with this beer, too. Roast elements with hints of coffee and a sweet finish.

Buttzville_JustButtINeeded

My friend had the Pale Ale and the Saison. As I posted this past Tuesday, I also had the Saison and was extremely impressed with the beer. As I said in my review of the beer, we enjoyed the Saison so much, we brought back a growler of it to enjoy while watching All Out 2021.

Buttzville Brewing is located in what is a “Main Street” downtown on E. Washington Avenue in Washington Township and like NJ breweries before it (Wet Ticket in Rahway, Czig Meister and Man Skirt in Hackettstown), could be a key player in the growing downtown area. Dave is an extremely welcoming and knowledgeable guy and he makes excellent beer. Whether visiting and spending time at the brewery, or taking in the other breweries in the area, Buttzville Brewing is worth visiting. I have a feeling I will visit again.

ButtzvilleLogo

Some other links of interest and sources of information for this post:

Buttzville Brewing Co. Web site | Instagram | Facebook | Buttzvile Brewing Co. on NewJerseyCraftBeer.com | Beer Advocate | untappd

Beer Review: Buttzville Brewing’s Mountain View Saison

Name: Mountain View
Brewing Company: Buttzville Brewing Company
Location: Washington/Buttzville, NJ
Style: Farmhouse Ale – Saison
ABV: 6.2%

A brand new brewery knocks it out of the park with their first Saison.

Buttzville_MountainViewSaison

From the untappd page for the beer:

This light, crisp Belgian saison is dedicated to the street Dave grew up on – Mountain View Rd., just outside of Washington, NJ. The classic, easy-drinking flavors of pepper, fruits, and floral notes are the perfect homage to the farming community in Warren County. The dry finish makes this a refreshing brew to enjoy on an evening spent in the outdoors.

Buttzville Brewing Company is one of the newer breweries in New Jersey. (Get the laughs out), having on July 31, 2021 amidst the COVID-19 Pandemic as the fourth brewery in Warren County, NJ. A good friend and I have made a tradition of visiting a brewery before watching a wrestling Pay-Per-View (in this case AEW All Out 2021), so when I realized how close he was to Buttzville Brewing, we decided to visit them.

He went with the Saison first, I decided on it last and I’m glad I did because it was the best of the three beers I enjoyed. The beer comes to me with a fairly thick, fluffy head that is exactly what I expect from a saison. A little fruitiness in the aroma, lots of earthiness. Aroma and look are spot on for the style.

A big, smack of flavors hits my palate in the best possible way. I am very impressed, but how does it work beyond that first sip? Very well indeed.

Mountain View is a bounty of flavors one should expect from a saison – a little peppery, a little fruity, a slightly dry finish. Each successive sip of the beer impresses me even more with the flavors…all fully derived from the yeast. No pepper added, no fruit elements added. That’s what wows me so much here, is that owner/brewer Dave was able coax so much wonderful flavor from the yeast in his brew process. In talking to Dave, he said he wanted to brew a saison because he wasn’t seeing enough of them and Mountain View saison is a beer he should proud to call his own.

Perhaps the thing that speaks the most to how much I (and my friend) enjoyed the beer. I had a growler filled for us to enjoy while watching the pay per view. Later that evening, we both remarked on how impressed we were with the beer. Quite simply, a clean, well-made beer in a classic style that required no crazy adjuncts.

A beer like this proves out the quality of the brewer who made the beer. Extremely refreshing and flavorful, Mountain View is a fantastic interpretation of Farmhouse Ale/Saison.

Highly Recommended, link to 4.25 bottle cap untappd rating check in.

Untapped badges earned with this beer:

Trip to the Farm (Level 13)

You have a keen taste for this Belgian masterpiece. Did you know the Saison style beer was invented by Belgian farms, brewed in the Winter and served the Spring/Summer to all their workers? Well now you do! That’s 55 different Saisons.

Buttzville_MountainViewSaison

Draught Diversions: Octoberfest 2021 Six Pack

This is the fourth annual Oktoberfest Six Pack (and fifth Oktoberfest feature overall), but clearly, Oktoberfest 2020 is unlike any we’ve experienced. For starters, the second year in a row, the annual celebration of Prince Ludwig and Princess Therese’s marriage was cancelled due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. Like last year, that hasn’t stopped the Festbiers and Märzens from being brewed and packaged. Four years into “constructing” these six-packs and I’m still able to find new malty, amber lagers to highlight every year. Of the beers featured here, I’ve had two, but only a taster of one and small portion from a crowler from another.

From last year: A note on the difference between Festbiers and Märzens. Festbiers are generally lower in alcohol and more close to a light copper color as opposed the the amber coloring of a Märzens. The story goes that the beers served at Oktoberfest in Bavaria were dropped in ABV slightly to sell more beer without making the attendees too inebriated. For me, whatever style a particular brewery calls their amber/brown lager they sell as “Oktoberfest” or some variant of the name, is a highlight of the beer year for yours truly. Most of the beers you’d find in Germany during the festival would actually be Festbiers, while those with the “Oktoberfest” moniker are mostly the American-ized versions.

On to the Six Pack!

Festbier (Festbier) | Bitburger Brauerei | Bitburg, Germany | 6.2% ABV

Bitburger is one of the larger German breweries and back in 2019, they collaborated with Sierra Nevada on a Märzen and I thoroughly enjoyed that version. I figured since I’ve been enjoying Sierra Nevada’s solo Oktoberfest beers the last couple of years, I should give Bitburger’s a try.

What Bitburger says about the beer:

A seasonal edition, available from August each year for a limited time: our Bitburger Festbier – tasty, full-bodied and delicately malty-mild. Created by our brewmasters to enjoy the traditional German beer festival atmosphere. A very special malt composition, including Pilsner Malt, Münchner Malt and light Caramel Malt, accounts for its fine color and smooth body. Additionally, the beer is refined with Bitburger’s proprietary and unique hop blend called ‘Siegelhopfen’ (seal hops), which is sourced from a farm just a few minutes from the brewery. This drinkable 6.2% ABV full-bodied beer is the perfect marriage of hops and malt with a slightly sweet backbone, while finishing dry.

OxtoberFest (Märzen) | Bolero Snort Brewery | Carlstadt, NJ | 5.3% ABV

Bolero_Oxtoberfest

It has been a while since Bolero Snort was featured here at the Tap Takeover, but with their increased production thanks to their awesome facility they are finally brewing and canning an Oktoberfest. Their Raging Bull Amber Lager is quite tasty so I’m hoping this one will be of equal quality.

What Bolero Snort says about the beer:

Who’s ready for OxtoberFest🍺!!!! We are happy to announce our latest release, right in time for the end of summer. This Marzen style lager was made as a Pro-Am Collab with our long time friend C3 Brewing😎. So grab your alpine hat and lederhosen’s and get on down to your local store to try out OxtoberFest👍!!!

Festooning (Märzen) | Grimm Artisanal Ales | Brooklyn, NY | 5.7% ABV

I’ve had a couple of Grimm’s lagers over the past few months (including a fantastic Vienna Lager), so I’m hoping their take on this most traditional of German lagers reaches NJ.

What Grimm says about the beer:

We are so excited to release Festooning, our first Oktoberfest Märzen-style lager. Like our pilsners, this amber lager was brewed with a traditional step mash process. The grist is a rich combination of German Vienna and Munich II malts that give warm notes of honey, caramel, and a fresh-baked loaf of seeded bread. Malty-sweet flavor with a crisp body and a subtle balancing bitterness make this an über satisfying Oktoberfest.

Mr. Oktoberfest (Märzen) | Icarus Brewing Company | Lakewood, NJ | 5.4% ABV

I shared a crowler of this one a couple of years ago, so I’m hoping cans of this one make it out to distribution again. As a NY Yankees fan, how do I not like a beer with this name and great can art?

What Icarus says about the beer:

Our 5.4% traditional German Lager was brewed with German Vienna and Dark Munich malts, then delicately hopped with Hallertauer Mittlefrueh. After Lagering for over a month in our tanks this enticingly malty yet easy drinking beer brings notes of Freshly Baked Bread, Caramel and just enough noble hops to mellow out the experience. Just in time to enjoy in your Beer Tent, this amber medium bodied beauty demands we say Prost and enjoy!

Drachenstadt – Festbier (Märzen) | Levante Brewing Company | West Chester, PA | 4.8% ABV

Levante gets some distribution here into New Jersey so I’m hoping I’ll see this beer. With a dragon theme in the beer and the label, I feel extremely compelled to try it.

Levante says this about the beer:

To go toe-to-claw with a dragon it helps to possess courage, even if it’s in liquid form. With a selection of five specialty malts, cold fermented and lagered to perfection, our Marzen style beer brings forth a depth and drinkable character not usually found in today’s festbiers. You’ll have courage to spare!

Ramstein Oktoberfest Lager (Märzen) | Ramstein/High Point Brewing Company | Hackettstown, NJ | 6% ABV

ramstein_Oktoberfest2021

Perhaps the most traditional and iconic Oktoberfest brewed in NJ. Like many of the beers brewed out of High Point Brewing in Butler, NJ, this was only available at the brewery. Last year, Ramstein canned the beer for the first time and sent the cans out to some stores in the State. I’m hoping that happens again this year, because I only had this beer once, many years ago at a beer festival but it left a strong impression.

What Ramstein says about the beer:

Inspired by the authentic German Oktoberfest beer from the early 1900s. This amber lager has a rich malty aroma, a smooth toasty palate, and subtle noble hop finish.

The richness and spiciness of this beer makes it the perfect accompaniment to robust meats and grilled fare. Ramstein Oktoberfest is a great beer for any festive occasion.

Beer Review: Firestone Walker’s Oaktoberfest

Name: Oaktoberfest
Brewing Company: Firestone Walker Brewing Company
Location: Paso Robles, CA
Style: Festbier
ABV: 5.2%

Firestone Walker brings a nice touch to their take on the traditional Fall German Lager for the first, welcome national release of the beer in years.

FirestoneWalker_Oaktoberfest

From Firestone Walker’s landing page for the beer:

One of our seasonal classics has made a celebratory return this fall with the release of Oaktoberfest, an oak-inspired homage to the great Bavarian tradition of Oktoberfest. “Some recipes endure for a reason, and Oaktoberfest is a perfect example,” said Brewmaster Matt Brynildson. “We’ve been making this ‘Paso Festbier’ periodically for more than 15 years, and it has stood the test of time.” This year, though, it comes with a twist

While similar in style to previous editions, the 2021 Oaktoberfest is our first in packaged form to have been lagered in French oak barrels from a premium Napa Valley Cabernet producer. The beer’s light amber color foreshadows its toasty, biscuity flavor. The oak-barrel lagering allows for an even smoother mouthfeel, all while remaining true to the beer’s crisp malt profile and hints of noble German hops.

The origins of Oaktoberfest date back to 2005, when we hosted our inaugural Oaktoberfest event. Ever since, the beer has come into periodic rotation, most recently as a draft-only offering in 2019.

Following in the tradition of classic German festbiers, Oaktoberfest is ultimately made to be enjoyed in a festive state of mind. “This beer has tons of flavor, but it’s super smooth and easygoing, too,” Brynildson said. “It’s a perfect fall sipper. Grab your stein and enjoy!”

Firestone Walker is one of the most respected breweries in America across all the styles they brew. One of their beers I’ve been wanting to try for a few years (called out very briefly in my very first Oktoberfest feature) is their fall lager, Oaktoberfest. For whatever reason this beer (and their flagship Double-Barrell Ale) haven’t been on the shelves in NJ for a very long time (if ever), so I was very pleased to see it in shops near me.

I’ve gone on about the differences between the fall lagers classified as “Märzen” vs “Festbier,” this one is a Festbier. The Festbier is not quite as malty, more copper in color than amber, and usually slightly lower in ABV. So here goes, my anticipated sampling of Oaktoberfest.

The beer pours a lovely copper / caramel into the dimpled mug with a fairly thick head thanks to the relatively vertical pour I gave it. The beer looks spot on for the style. Aroma? Mainly the smell of beer.

That first sip impression? This beer will deliver what I hope it will deliver: a flavorful, lager. As I drink more, I get some of that oak character layered in with the sweet maltiness of the style. Maybe a little bit of vanilla from the oak? Maybe toffee? Slight hints, nothing too overpowering. Festbiers, at least those I’ve enjoyed, have a slightly more crispy finish than the smooth finish of a Märzen.

Oaktoberfest delivers that crispiness, but I think the oak lagering/aging smooths it out just a tad for a very, very pleasant after effect. The Festbiers in Germany traditionally are made for enjoying pints and pints and pints of them over the course of an afternoon and the Brew MASTERS of Firestone Walker have taken that theme to heart with this beer. It was delicious and I couldn’t help finishing it rather quickly.

Suffice it to say, I am very pleased that Firestone Walker decided to package and distribute this beer nationwide this year. The beer lived up to the anticipation I had for it, but the quality of Firestone Walker’s beers never really surprise me.

I also have to say I’m glad this one was distributed in bottles. The majority of beer is in cans these days, so it is a refreshing change of pace and throwback to have a beer out of a bottle.

Oaktoberfest is a fantastic nationally-available Festbier/Fall Lager.

Highly Recommended, link to Untappd 4-bottle cap rating.

Untapped badges earned with this beer:

Oktoberfest (Level 14)

The Leaves are Changing color, which means it’s that magical time of year full of festivals, sausages, and of course, plenty of bubbly brews. Enjoy your Oktoberfest and don’t forget your Lederhosen! That’s 70 different beers with the style of Festbier or Märzen.

FW_Oaktoberfest

Draught Diversions: August2021 Six Pack

Draught Diversions is the catchall label for mini-rants, think-pieces, and non-review posts here at The Tap Takeover. We hope you don’t grow too weary of the alcohol alliterative names we use…

2021_Aug_SixPack

The last full month of summer brings an interesting mix of beers I’ve chosen to highlight. A couple are here more for their uniqueness rather than how much I enjoyed them. Frankly, a big source of my summer beer consumption is pulled from the beer brought to the house on the Fourth of July as I’ve noted in previous round-up posts for July and August. Overall, 2 Barleywines (yeah, in the summer no less!), 1 Lager, 1 Pale Ale, 1 Pilsner, 1 Berliner Weisse, with 4 NJ beers.

Stacking Casks (Kane Brewing Company) | Barleywine – English | 4.5 Bottle Caps on untappd

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They say summer is for lagers and summer crushers, but this is the 3rd new Barleywine I’ve had since memorial day and it is outstanding. The majority of barleywines I’ve consumed have been from Kane and they’ve all been great, this one might be the best. I like the subtle elements from the cognac/wine aging. There’s some hints of fruit and spice as well.

Watercolors Creamee – Raspberry, Blueberry, Cheesecake, Cream & Milk Sugar (Skygazer Brewing Company) | Sour – Fruited Berliner Weisse | no rating on untappd

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This beer is one of the rare beers I did not rate on untappd. I can’t say I enjoyed this beer, but it was interesting and worth mentioning. I like Berliner Weisses quite a bit, but this liquid…I’m not sure how it is considered beer. The only thing this seems to have in common with beer, in the Tap Takeover’s humble opinion, is that it is liquid with a percentage of alcohol content. I never thought I’d have a beer made with cheesecake, but this was a leftover from 4th of July so I figured I’d try it.

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The quote from Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum’s character in Jurassic Park) comes to mind, but apply it to brewers: “Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should” These “smoothie/smoovie/smoojie” beers are very popular and some of the most sought after styles, but not with the Tap Takeover.

Ray Catcher (Jack’s Abby Craft Lagers) | Lager – American | 4.25 Bottle Caps on untappd

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I think I found my favorite “new to me” beer for the summer because this is a superb lager. Jack’s Abby never fails to disappoint me and this beer was better than I expected it would be. Extremely refreshing and flavorful, the addition of lemongrass gives the beer a citrusy cooling finish that epitomizes what a warm-weather beer should be. I hope this one comes back in summer 2022 in a 12 pack.

Corned Beef Pale Ale (Spellbound Brewing Company) | Pale Ale – American | 3.5 Bottle Caps on untappd

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Here’s another beer making an appearance more for the novelty than the quality. It isn’t a bad beer at all, but it sure is an interesting beer not quite like any beer I’ve had before. Unlike that red thing I highlighted at the top of this post, this actually tastes like a beer. I enjoyed it, but I’m not sure I could have more than one or two of the beers. The pickling spices definitely play well with the hops and really smack the taste buds.

Fraxinus Maple Syrup Barrel Aged (Ashton Brewing Company) | Barleywine – Other | 3.75 Bottle Caps on untappd

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A fourth barleywine for the summer, courtesy of Ashton Brewing. I enjoyed the non-barrel-aged version last month and I picked up this bottle a couple of months back (along with a second bottle for Father’s Day for my dad). There’s a really nice balance between the hop bitterness and sweetness from the maple, with the maple emerging more as the beer warms. That said, I think I liked the non-barrel-aged version slightly more.

Lagerhythm (Brix City Brewing) | Pilsner – Other | 4.25 Bottle Caps on untappd

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Brix City is known primarily for their fruited sours and IPAs, so I was quite pleased to see this “Continental” Pilsner appear in one of my local beer shops. I was very impressed with this beer, which is extremely flavorful at such a low ABV. The beer doesn’t disappoint and shows that the of the brewers of Brix City are extremely talented across styles, especially a style whose (potential) mistakes can’t be hidden with adjuncts and more hops.

Like I said, the pickings were a bit slimmer with new beers this month. With the summer and pool open, I tend to refill the cooler with familiar beers and favorites.