Like judging and evaluating a fine wine, deciphering what makes a beer good is a complex process. In beer competitions, there is a standardized beer judging system — the Beer Judge Certification Program, or BJCP — used by judges. The process of becoming a judge at the highest levels of beer competition can take years, or even decades. Passing BJCP tests merely get you in the door. The most highly regarded beer judges have to earn their reputation through years of study, beer tasting practice and judging experience. Weighing all this, where does that leave The Thirsty Beagle as I prepare for my first beer review? Let’s see:
Passing BJCP tests? Nope. Having years of judging experience? Nope. Having years of practice tasting beer? Wait a minute, I think we’re on to something here! I may not be able to discern the slight difference between once- or twice-roasted barley, but I’m pretty sure I can convey in my own unorthodox way if you — the average beer-enjoying chap — should partake in a few sips. That said, on with the review:
Sam Adams OctoberFest
What they say: “This hearty lager is rich with a blend of five malts, carefully balanced with hand-selected Noble hops,” and “…the largest selling Octoberfest brew in the world is not German, but the delicious brew in your hand.”
What The Thirsty Beagle says: OctoberFest is a medium-to-dark-amber-colored lager. On looks alone, this beer has got it going. The amber hue really lures you in. As far as flavor goes, the hops give it a slight bitterness, but nothing that would make you grimace. Those hops work to balance the sweetness of the caramel flavor added to the beer. As with most lagers, it has a cleanness that makes it quite easy to drink, but the flavor is definitely more rich than a standard domestic lager. In fact, Sam Adams describes the beer as a good transition from summer’s light brew’s to the heartier varieties offered in the winter, and that’s a very apt description. To me, the beer had an ever-so-slight heaviness in the mouth and left more than a hint of a lingering aftertaste. Overall, a very enjoyable seasonal beer that goes great with a steak and even better with a grilled smoked sausage.
Score: 4 out of 5 beagles.