There’s a legit case to be made for why just about any season is great when it comes to seasonal brews. For this dude, however, Fall is about as good as it gets. The summer ales are great, and the winter warmers are perfect for those icy nights where the city seems to be shut down, but dang it if the ingredients that are fall staples don’t make a mean stein of lager.
For this north-Texas dweller, Fall beer season officially begins with the opening of Addison’s Oktoberfest. Even if I don’t actually go and partake of the admittedly limited marzen-flavored offerings, it’s just a good time-marker to leave the lighter pils and ales on the shelf and start spending some quality time with brews that get a tad darker and typically don’t require a lemon or lime to accompany it. Perhaps the various Oktoberfest brews and fall seasonals are the long-sleeve T-shirt that bridges the gap between summer tanks and swim trunks and the sweaters that enrobe us all in the winter months.
As you might’ve guessed by now; I haven’t exactly begun my Oktoberfest drinking season by hitting the Import section of the local beer depot. I’ve begun my seasonal celebration on the “Made in Texas” end of the aisle. Of course, we all know about Shiner Bock’s dependable ability to produce quality seasonal brews that often eclipse the greatness of the original style that made it’s name. While their Oktoberfest is surely a worthy one to grab, it’s not the best of the Texas lot, and by now, Shiner has become such a big deal in so many parts of the country, outside of the state, that it might be more of a stretch than any of us ever imagined to simply call Shiner a “Texas Beer”. Don’t get me wrong, of course it’s still an icon of Texas pop-culture and still very much a Texas creation, but it’s not just ours anymore, you know?
While I’m certainly leaving some out, there are three Texas-brewed Oktoberfests that are pretty available for just about any Lone Star resident that can help any beer lover ring in the season of Baseball playoffs, NFL regular season and raking leaves off of the lawn, once they’ve fallen from their trees.
St. Arnold Oktoberfest (Houston) – Perhaps the richest in flavor of the ones we’ll discuss, it’s a full bodied brew that has a heavier mouth feel than the others as well. I wouldn’t call it refreshing, but I would call it a great beer to sit and enjoy casually when you have the time to actually give some thought to what’s in your stein during that first slight, sub-75 degree “chill” in the air.
Rahr & Sons Oktoberfest (Ft. Worth) – The resilient brewer has certainly made a major comeback from the winter storm that collapsed their roof and crippled their operation during the icy weather of last winter. While not as rich as St. Arnold’s, it has a cleaner finish with every bit of flavor in it’s Marzen-styled, deep amber glory as its counterpart from Houston.
Real Ale Brewing Oktoberfest (Blanco) – With the cleanest finish of these three choices, it also might be the one that casual beer drinkers might prefer, thanks to a less aggressive overall flavor. It’s a good beer, and will still rank higher than your Sam Adam’s Oktoberfest’s and other larger breweries versions, but it isn’t likely to pass the test when pitted against the brewers who want to really make a strong point with perhaps the most famous of all seasonal styles. But, hey, it’s still good.
For those (like me) who also like to give a number of brews a try, give this list from the recently-defunct D/FW QUICK a try. It’s from last year, but it gave me a wonderful tour of beers that fit perfectly into the season.