We continue our quest to try all of the commercially available Oktoberfests from Wisconsin breweries. If we can, we will try to find Oktoberfests from some of the breweries that aren't readily available here in Madison (Viking, Central Waters, Calumet, Lakefront, etc.); but we are starting with the ones that are.
The methodology is simple: blind tasting of two different Oktoberfests. In the mbr refrigerator is all of the Oktobers. One of us sets up the glasses with two random unannounced Oktobers, and another tastes without knowing which beers have been poured. Tasting notes are taken, and guesses are made as to which Oktober is being consumed. The following is those tasting notes; unedited. We try not to "rate" the beers, just to review them. Enjoy. If you have had any of these beers, please feel free to post your review in the comments.
Again, this day was baffling. I can't really point to a reason why, but I've never really been a huge fan of Capital. Part of it is, I suppose, that their beers are mostly low to un-hopped lagers. Not really right up my alley. But, for the most part I find their beers to be unremarkable. Also, maybe it's because they try to market themselves as a small "we're just good ol' folks from Madison" when, in fact, they are one of the largest breweries in Wisconsin outside of Milwaukee and Chippewa Falls (and, to be technical, not in Madison, but Middleton; and, not to start a war or anything, it's a distinction that many Middleton-ians are quick to make). Maybe it's because they insist on doing silly things like trying to trademark "America's #1 Rated Brewery." (I promise a post in the relatively near future about why this absurd.)
In any event, I was surprised when I found out that Sample B was Capital. I was surprised for 2 reasons: 1) see above paragraph; 2) I just had the Capital Oktoberfest the night before and I didn't recognize it in the blind tasting. Though, to be fair, as you'll see, I recognized it - just not as Capital.
What I found is that Capital has made the best regional Oktoberfest tasted thus far; it is appropriately sweet, with a complex but not overwhelming bitterness. The body was spot-on, and the head was near-perfect. So, without further ado, the tasting notes:
Day 2 - Sample B (Capital)
Appearance: amber, good foamy head, little lacing, somewhat hazy, though hard to tell if this is from the mug frosting over or the carbonation, or if it's just a hazy beer
Aroma: malty and caramel; earthy and a faint fruitiness hidden behind the grassy scents
Flavor: strong, but not overpowering caramel; not terribly complex in the malt flavors, but could just be that the malts are working well together and there isn't much layering to discover; the caramel specialty malts are present, but not overwhelming, while the base malts really shine; after the caramel taste, the hoppy bitterness takes over and provides a nice finish;
Body: a solid medium to medium-light body, moderately carbonated with no long-lasting flavors; crisp
Drinkability: this is a very good Oktober; I could drink quite a few more of these;
Summary/Notes: while it could be better, the malts could use some depth and the yeast shows no character at all, and the hops could be a little more forward, it's really quite a solid Oktober; the subtle complexity of the hops is really nice
Guess: New Glarus
Recommendation: buy 6 of these; hell, buy 12 of them.