Food & Drink » Food Features

Cover Story: Fall Brew Review

by

comment
(Cover photo: Garett Fisbeck / Layout: Christopher Street)
  • Cover photo: Garett Fisbeck / Layout: Christopher Street

Prairie Artisan Ales Barrel Aged Bomb for Gazette Fall Brew Review 2016. - GARETT FISBECK
  • Garett Fisbeck
  • Prairie Artisan Ales Barrel Aged Bomb for Gazette Fall Brew Review 2016.

1. Barrel Aged Bomb!

Prairie Artisan Ales, Tulsa  |  Alcohol by volume: 11.2 percent

Average score: 32.66, outstanding

Superlatives swirled around Prairie Artisan Ales’ Barrel Aged Bomb!, which “tucks away” the brewer’s beloved imperial stout in wooden barrels for a few months for a brew our panel called “fantastic,” “delicious” and “roasty.” The color is “so dark, no light can escape,” and the flavor has notes of “chocolate and love and booze.” The beer smells strongly of alcohol, which isn’t surprising given its 11.2 percent ABV (alcohol by volume), but the panel also found sherry, maple and coffee wafting up from the “dark, totally opaque” body. In the mouth, Barrel Aged Bomb! is “coating,” “creamy” and “frothy.” “Very, very good,” said one expert.

Elk Valley Brewing Co. Pumpion 2016 for Gazette Fall Brew Review 2016. - GARETT FISBECK
  • Garett Fisbeck
  • Elk Valley Brewing Co. Pumpion 2016 for Gazette Fall Brew Review 2016.

2. Pumpion Ale

Elk Valley Brewing Co., Oklahoma City

Alcohol by volume: 12.4 percent

Average score: 32.5, outstanding

Our panel was nearly unanimous in its love for Elk Valley’s Pumpion, calling it “pretty damn fantastic” with a palate of dark fruit, molasses and cinnamon. The aroma is “very sweet, almost syrupy.” It is “very malty” with  strong pumpkin and slight cherry flavors. Another judge said the boozy ale with a strong smell of maple syrup “would murder me.” With a perfect score from one of our six-person panel members, Pumpion has tantalizing “opaque color,” smells “amazing” and presents a “silky, perfect” texture with a “rich, nutty, spicy caramel” taste.

Twisted Spike Black Snake for Gazette Fall Brew Review 2016. - GARETT FISBECK
  • Garett Fisbeck
  • Twisted Spike Black Snake for Gazette Fall Brew Review 2016.

3. Black Snake Russian Imperial Stout

Twisted Spike Brewing Co., Oklahoma City

Alcohol by volume: 9.8 percent

Average score: 30.66, outstanding

Panelists reveled in the “amazing aroma” of Black Snake, which evoked images of dark fruit and coffee. Judges said it is “a perfect hearty roast” with a “great dark” color. Almost pitch-black, it boasts a “caramel-colored head” that holds up well after pouring. Though the mouthfeel was “thin” and “almost watery” to some, the brew imparts “really nice flavors of vanilla, chocolate and cinnamon” with a deep and alcoholic smoothness. “Solid stout,” wrote one judge, who detected a “slight plum” flavor. Its “perfect heavy roast” scent and “great heavy flavor” led another to give it a 38 of 38.

Samuel Adams Fat Jack Double Pumpkin for Gazette Fall Brew Review 2016. - GARETT FISBECK
  • Garett Fisbeck
  • Samuel Adams Fat Jack Double Pumpkin for Gazette Fall Brew Review 2016.

4. Fat Jack Double Pumpkin Ale

Samuel Adams, The Boston Beer Company, Boston

Alcohol by volume: 8.5 percent

Average score: 29.66, outstanding

If 20 Pounds of Pumpkin isn’t enough (see No. 18), Samuel Adams Fat Jack is a double pumpkin ale that packs in more than 28 pounds of the harvest squash per barrel. Our panelists loved its “malty, boozy, alcohol, spice” scent and “malt-forward” flavor with subtle pumpkin and “nice spice” with an alcoholic finish. The “deep amber” ale has a “really nice red color” with “beautiful sweetness.” The highest scoring judge called it “great for pumpkin” and loved its “roasty, spicy flavor.” “If I had to drink a pumpkin beer, this one is pretty good,” commented another.

Kannah Creek Brewing Company The Demise of Ivan Russian Imperial Stout for Gazette Fall Brew Review 2016. - GARETT FISBECK
  • Garett Fisbeck
  • Kannah Creek Brewing Company The Demise of Ivan Russian Imperial Stout for Gazette Fall Brew Review 2016.

5. The Demise of Ivan Russian Imperial Stout

Kannah Creek Brewing Company, Grand Junction, Colorado

Alcohol by volume: 11 percent

Average score: 29, outstanding

The tasty Demise of Ivan Russian imperial stout hits the glass with a “great dark red hue” that’s clean to the eye and “boozy,” “sweet” and “astringent” to the nose. The group whiffed “roasted dark fruit” before the first taste further revealed a “roasty” flavor “with a bit of plum” and “red fruit.” The beer presents “booze up front” with an alcoholic burn followed by hints of chocolate and espresso. One expert deemed it “too sweet” for a Russian imperial, but others found it “a little thin for style, but pleasant.” One panelist enjoyed the warming mouthfeel, calling it “thin but boozy” with “good carbonation.”

Tallgrass Zombie Monkie for Gazette Fall Brew Review 2016. - GARETT FISBECK
  • Garett Fisbeck
  • Tallgrass Zombie Monkie for Gazette Fall Brew Review 2016.

6. Zombie Monkie Robust Porter

Tallgrass Brewing Co., Manhattan, Kansas

Alcohol by volume: 6.2 percent

Average score: 28.66, outstanding

Zombie Monkie Robust Porter rises from the Tallgrass vaults from August to December with scents of “chocolate” and roasted coffee and hints of caramel and fruit, panelists said. Despite pouring “really dark” with a good head, the brew’s flavor is “light bodied” and possesses “a true Baltic porter mouthfeel.” Our judges loved Monkie’s “dark, opaque” look with a taste and appearance that are “perfect for the style.” The balanced texture is “creamy” with little carbonation and invokes “roast meat, cocoa and coffee” on the palate. “Perfect fall dark beer,” one commented.

Twisted Spike 10th Street Pale Ale for Gazette Fall Brew Review 2016. - GARETT FISBECK
  • Garett Fisbeck
  • Twisted Spike 10th Street Pale Ale for Gazette Fall Brew Review 2016.

7. 10th St. Pale Ale

Twisted Spike Brewing Co., Oklahoma City

Alcohol by volume: 6.2 percent

Average score: 27.83, outstanding

Recently opened Oklahoma City brewery Twisted Spike nails its 10th St. Pale Ale with a “juicy mouthfeel” and “nice balance of malt and bitterness.” It is a golden “dark straw” color and has a nice head, and its aroma has an “almost chocolate” scent with a “nice sweetness” that one panelist compared to estery “citrus grapefruit” and pine. The “fruit-forward” flavor has a nuttiness with “hints of caramel” that is “delicious.”

Anthem Brewing Old Man Ogle for Gazette Fall Brew Review 2016. - GARETT FISBECK
  • Garett Fisbeck
  • Anthem Brewing Old Man Ogle for Gazette Fall Brew Review 2016.

8. Old Man Ogle Vienna Style Lager

Anthem Brewing Company, Oklahoma City

Alcohol by volume: 5.5 percent

Average score: 27.5, outstanding

Anthem ages its Oktoberfest-style Ogletoberfest beer in bourbon barrels to create Old Man Ogle Vienna-style lager. Its aroma is deep with whiffs of maple and raisin, and its flavor is bright and slightly sweet. “Very unique. Very surprising,” commented one smitten panelist. The lager pours golden and clear with “good head retention and lacing.” Tasters appreciated its phenolic “good, smoky flavor” and “nice finish,” especially the alcoholic “bourbon warmth” and “sweet, nutty” smell of honey. Overall, judges deemed the brew “enjoyable” and “very good.”

Kannah Creek Brewing Company Standing Wave Pale Ale for Gazette Fall Brew Review 2016. - GARETT FISBECK
  • Garett Fisbeck
  • Kannah Creek Brewing Company Standing Wave Pale Ale for Gazette Fall Brew Review 2016.

9. Standing Wave Pale Ale

Kannah Creek Brewing Company, Grand Junction, Colorado

Alcohol by volume: 5.5 percent

Average score: 27, outstanding

The first impressions of Kannah Creek’s pale ale comes from the hoppy aroma that rises from this heady golden brew. Judges said it was musty, “slightly dank, piney” and has “lots of citrus for the style,” conjuring flavors of “bitter tea, subtle hops and great nuttiness.” Standing Wave is “smooth and clean” on the palate and creamier than many pale ales, giving the popular brew an earthy flavor with notes of grassiness, pine and an astringent hint of soap. One panelist enjoyed the herbaceousness and called it a “good, easy-drinking” beer.

Sierra Nevada Oktoberfest for Gazette Fall Brew Review 2016. - GARETT FISBECK
  • Garett Fisbeck
  • Sierra Nevada Oktoberfest for Gazette Fall Brew Review 2016.

10. Oktoberfest Festival Lager

Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., brewed with Bamberg, Germany’s Mahrs Bräu

Alcohol by volume: 6 percent

Average score: 27, outstanding

This Märzen-style Oktoberfest from California’s Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. was a big, big hit with most panelists, who loved the “classic German appearance” of the lager that carried flavors of “fields of grass, stonelike dryness and subtle sweetness.” The lager has a “classic” light-golden hue and a slightly astringent mouthfeel with “nice carbonation, a mildly creamy consistency with a nice, bitter pucker” and scents of citrus and yeasty “biscuit.” The sweetness balanced out a “really nice herbal, grassy” hoppiness that was almost universally loved.

Kannah Creek Brewing Company Broken Oar IPA for Gazette Fall Brew Review 2016. - GARETT FISBECK
  • Garett Fisbeck
  • Kannah Creek Brewing Company Broken Oar IPA for Gazette Fall Brew Review 2016.

11. Broken Oar India Pale Ale

Kannah Creek Brewing Company, Grand Junction, Colorado

Alcohol by volume: 6.2 percent

Average score: 26.5, outstanding

Panelists were enamored with Kannah Creek’s fresh and outdoorsy Broken Oar IPA, a “nice burnt gold” beer with an odor and flavor many described as tart, estery, grassy, musty and floral. “Nicely structured for style,” wrote one, who enjoyed its “medium-to-heavy” texture and creamy “floral hop” on the tongue. The fruity nose gives way to a complex flavor. “Fantastic carbonation and great bitter finish,” commented one judge. Another said the way it lingers after each sip “makes this beer special.”

Kannah Creek Brewing Company Vertical Drop Robust Red Ale for Gazette Fall Brew Review 2016. - GARETT FISBECK
  • Garett Fisbeck
  • Kannah Creek Brewing Company Vertical Drop Robust Red Ale for Gazette Fall Brew Review 2016.

12. Vertical Drop Robust Red Ale

Kannah Creek Brewing Company, Grand Junction, Colorado

Alcohol by volume: 6.2 percent

Average score: 26.33, outstanding

Kannah Creek produces a robust red ale that lives up to the categorization, and panelists complimented Vertical Drop for its “dark amber” appearance with “excellent head retention and good lacing.” “Fantastic brownish-red color, perfect for style,” said another, who called its malt body and slightly bitter taste of roasted hops “perfect.” The aroma is “subtle” and “slightly smoky” with hints of leather. The body is creamy with “mild carbonation” and a mildly bitter finish that is “nicely balanced.” While scores varied, almost every panelist came to the same conclusion, calling this selection “very good” and “a perfect red” with a “deep, smoky finish.”

Samuel Adams Octoberfest for Gazette Fall Brew Review 2016. - GARETT FISBECK
  • Garett Fisbeck
  • Samuel Adams Octoberfest for Gazette Fall Brew Review 2016.

13. Octoberfest Lager

Samuel Adams, The Boston Beer Company, Boston

Alcohol by volume: 5.3 percent

Average score: 25.83, excellent

With a slightly malty, alcoholic aroma with hints of “fruit and baking spice,” Boston-bred Octoberfest lager earned plenty of love for its “sweet but very well-balanced” flavor and smooth, rich texture that is “wonderful” for the style. The copper-colored lager carries a “sweet, yeasty flavor” with hints of banana and a fruity acidity, said one panelist, who called it a “clean, unaggressive beer.” A few of our judges were torn, calling it both “lighter than expected” and a “little full-bodied” for an Oktoberfest, though it was given high marks for a “nutty, slightly herbal hop presence” that was “really good.”

ABITA Octoberfest for Gazette Fall Brew Review 2016. - GARETT FISBECK
  • Garett Fisbeck
  • ABITA Octoberfest for Gazette Fall Brew Review 2016.

14. Octoberfest Lager

Abita Brewing Company, Abita Springs, Louisiana

Alcohol by volume: 5.4 percent

Average score: 25.66, excellent

“This was good,” one panelist said of Louisiana-based Abita’s Octoberfest offering. The mildly phenolic, spicy brew has a “light, golden amber” color that looked “lighter and thinner” and others in the style, judges said, but offered a “nice, solid body” that ended cleanly and crisply. The “slight sulfur” smell is within style, and the flavor is “bready, with delicious herbal and grassy hops and balanced bitterness.” One commented the medium-bodied, German-style lager is “lovely” and said they “love the German hop character,” and others praised it as “easy to drink” with a nice, smooth finish.

Battered Boar Brewing Company Coconut Cream Stout for Gazette Fall Brew Review 2016. - GARETT FISBECK
  • Garett Fisbeck
  • Battered Boar Brewing Company Coconut Cream Stout for Gazette Fall Brew Review 2016.

15. Coconut Cream Stout

Battered Boar Brewing Company, Edmond

Alcohol by volume: 7.5 percent

Average score: 25.5, excellent

Praised for its strong coconut and mild roast aroma with a smooth texture, Battered Boar’s Coconut Cream Stout was a standout with panelists for its dark chocolate sweetness and rich flavor with “good finish.” The smell reminded others of sunblock, and some said the color is “as dark as my heart” and had no lacing on the head. “Great aroma; underwhelming flavor,” wrote another. For a stout, its texture is “smooth, but thin,” and it has a “good mouthfeel with a drying finish.”

Twisted Spike Holy Beer for Gazette Fall Brew Review 2016. - GARETT FISBECK
  • Garett Fisbeck
  • Twisted Spike Holy Beer for Gazette Fall Brew Review 2016.

16. Holy Beer Belgian Style Quadrupel Ale

Twisted Spike Brewing Co., Oklahoma City

Alcohol by volume: 9.5 percent

Average score: 25.5, excellent

Hallelujah! Twisted Spike’s Holy Beer Belgian Quadrupel arrives with a translucent, caramel body and subtle estery, oxidized and phenolic notes of banana, clove and port wine. “Slight fruit, lots of dark malt,” commented one panelist. While one expert described it as “mild” in both smell and flavor, others were impressed with the “cloudy dark amber” look and “good sweetness” of the brew. “The flavor is really fantastic,” wrote one.

Shiner Oktoberfest for Gazette Fall Brew Review 2016. - GARETT FISBECK
  • Garett Fisbeck
  • Shiner Oktoberfest for Gazette Fall Brew Review 2016.

17. Märzen-Style Oktoberfest

Shiner, K. Spoetzl Brewery in Shiner, Texas

Alcohol by volume: 5.7 percent

Average score: 24.83, excellent

Panelists were a little surprised by this Texas-based Märzen-style Oktoberfest and praised its “slightly darker golden color” that held “good malt flavor with a bit of sweetness.” The aroma is nutty and malty with caramel notes. “Unique,” another said, with a slight vegetal scent that gives way to “good, dark spice” that exemplifies the style. The clear, copper-colored beer has subtle plum flavors and a full-bodied texture that retained a light feel in the mouth. It’s a fine example of Oktoberfest beer with a “great pure color” and excellent head retention.

Samuel Adams 20 Pounds of Pumpkin for Gazette Fall Brew Review 2016. - GARETT FISBECK
  • Garett Fisbeck
  • Samuel Adams 20 Pounds of Pumpkin for Gazette Fall Brew Review 2016.

18. 20 Pounds of Pumpkin Ale

Samuel Adams, The Boston Beer Company, Boston

Alcohol by volume: 5.7 percent

Average score: 24.6, excellent

Panelists loved Samuel Adams’ 20 Pounds of Pumpkin ale and praised its “great, rich brown color” and “spicy pumpkin aroma.” The “slight malt flavor with pumpkin in the front” leads to a slight bitter finish. The ale carries a dark orange tint with a “sherry-like, orange and red” appearance. It has “just enough pumpkin to call it a pumpkin beer,” one expert said. The medium-bodied, phenolic, creamy brew features a “nice malt backbone” that is “well balanced.”

Flying Dog Dogtoberfest Marzen for Gazette Fall Brew Review 2016. - GARETT FISBECK
  • Garett Fisbeck
  • Flying Dog Dogtoberfest Marzen for Gazette Fall Brew Review 2016.

19. Dogtoberfest Märzen

Flying Dog Brewery, Frederick, Maryland

Alcohol by volume: 5.6 percent

Average score: 24.5, excellent

Flying Dog’s Dogtoberfest swooped in with a “nice, fruity” aroma that left a taste of malt and spice on the tongue. Those who liked it said it smelled of “shortbread cookie” and tasted a bit sweet, like a “tasty caramel biscotti,” while others deducted points for its lack of malt and “astringent aftertaste.” The Märzen’s texture is light with “decent carbonation” and a good body accompanying a lovely red-brown appearance with an “almond-colored head.” Brewed with 100 percent imported German ingredients, the Oktoberfest-style beer is  “easy to drink.”

Black Mesa Kolsch Berm Style Kolsch Ale for Gazette Fall Brew Review 2016. - GARETT FISBECK
  • Garett Fisbeck
  • Black Mesa Kolsch Berm Style Kolsch Ale for Gazette Fall Brew Review 2016.

20. Kölsch German-Style Ale

Black Mesa Brewing Company, Oklahoma City

Alcohol by volume: 5.2 percent

Average score: 24.3, excellent

Kölsch-style beers, the German answer to the British pale ale, have a reputation for being easy to drink, so it’s no surprise that panelists described Black Mesa’s Kölsch as “fruity” with a hint of citrus, but “little to no aroma.” It received praise for the extremely light bitterness and “grapefruit acidity” of brew and the gorgeous “burned gold” of the straw-colored beer with a nice carbonation. One reviewer said its flavor was of a “slight old-world malt” with a smooth, rich texture. The estery beer has a “good appearance and good head retention” with only “a small amount of bitterness on the aftertaste,” said another.

Rahr Sons Oktoberfest for Gazette Fall Brew Review 2016. - GARETT FISBECK
  • Garett Fisbeck
  • Rahr Sons Oktoberfest for Gazette Fall Brew Review 2016.

21. Oktoberfest Märzen-Style Lager

Rahr & Sons Brewing Company, Fort Worth, Texas

Alcohol by volume: 7 percent

Average score: 24.16, excellent

Fort Worth, Texas, brewing company Rahr & Sons wins Okie fans with its Märzen-style Oktoberfest, an amber lager with scents of “toasty caramel sweetness” and “crisp, biscuity malt,” wrote one panelist, who also loved the clean, crisp flavor of toasted malt. The mouthfeel is smooth, with good structure that is nice for the style, said another. The mildly sweet aroma and full-flavored carbonation makes for a “solid beer for the experience.” Its citrusy hop character might be a bit out of character for an Oktoberfest, which is usually characterized by a rich, full-bodied flavor, but our panelists loved the texture.

Battered Boar Brewing Company Lion's Tooth Floret for Gazette Fall Brew Review 2016. - GARETT FISBECK
  • Garett Fisbeck
  • Battered Boar Brewing Company Lion's Tooth Floret for Gazette Fall Brew Review 2016.

22. Lion’s Tooth Floret Farmhouse Ale

Battered Boar Brewing Company, Edmond

Alcohol by volume: 6 percent

Average score: 24.16, excellent

With a tart flavor, Lion’s Tooth Floret  has a scent of “wild yeast and citrus” wafting up from the slightly cloudy, unfiltered beer. An extremely complex style, farmhouse ales are typically fruity with plenty of earthy hops. The panel noted a growing phenolic spiciness of clove and coriander that one described as “herbaceous.” The head had “nice webbing” and “good retention,” panelists said, with a mouthfeel that was effervescent and minerally. It is astringent “in a good way,” said another, and has a “nice balance with hops and malt.” It is an “easy to drink” ale.

Battered Boar Brewing Company La Padite Farmhouse Ale for Gazette Fall Brew Review 2016. - GARETT FISBECK
  • Garett Fisbeck
  • Battered Boar Brewing Company La Padite Farmhouse Ale for Gazette Fall Brew Review 2016.

23. LaPadite Farmhouse Ale

Battered Boar Brewing Company, Edmond

Alcohol by volume: 6 percent

Average score: 23.58, excellent

A somewhat sweeter saison, Battered Boar’s LaPadite Farmhouse Ale brought notes of banana and bubblegum, said one panelist. “Citrus, but drying on the back,” another commented. Others enjoyed the “dry finish and nice body” of the fruity and floral beer that is a great example of the farmhouse ale style but predicted it might be “too strange to have wide appeal.” Brewed with Madagascar vanilla beans and Galaxy and Eldorado hops, it has a “beautiful white and fluffy head” and “good texture on the palate” and one expert gave it high marks for a “candied sugar licorice” smell.

Vanessa House Beer Co. 401 K Cream Ale for Gazette Fall Brew Review 2016. - GARETT FISBECK
  • Garett Fisbeck
  • Vanessa House Beer Co. 401 K Cream Ale for Gazette Fall Brew Review 2016.

24. 401k Cream Ale

Vanessa House Beer Co., Oklahoma City 

Alcohol by volume: 5.1 percent 

Average score: 23.16, excellent

Panelists praised this beer from newly established Oklahoma City brewer Vanessa House Beer Co. as “golden” with a light foam and yeasty, bready, phenolic spice flavors as “mildly effervescent” with earthy hops. The flavor was mild, wrote one, with hints of clove and a “light, bright, sweet” aroma. Some noted a diacetyl (buttery) smell, while others said it was light-struck or “skunky.” The group appreciated the slightly creamy and full-bodied mouthfeel and the malty, German-style taste. It was “a bit cloudy,” one panelist commented, but the finish was “clean, crisp and dry.”

(Cover design: Christopher Street / Oklahoma Gazette)

(Cover design: Christopher Street / Oklahoma Gazette)

Read a breakdown of beer types and descriptors here!

See a list of beer-related events here!

Learn about our panelists and the scoring system here!

Tags

Latest in Food Features

Add a comment