What would October be without Oktoberfest, a time of year where all people do is drink beer? That sure is all there is to that tradition, it seems. Actually, don’t be silly — of course there’s more to it than that. While I doubt it would be difficult to imagine Germany coming up with a holiday solely dedicated to beer, there’s a little more history in it. It originated hundreds of years ago, as a marriage celebration for Prince Ludwig and Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen. Wow, what a mouthful! Things have evolved from that mouthful to a celebration of mouths full of beer, sausage and other yummy treats.
Every year with this fest comes almost every brewery creating its own Oktoberfest beers. Most are fantastic, and I feel the whole tradition of it all captures fall fairly well. The styles take a less hoppy route in their characteristics and mellow out a little. I find that most of them have a warm sweetness to them, but aren’t incredibly so. In a lot of ways, they seem to be toned down bocks or doppelbocks. If you’ve ever had Troegenator, you’ll know how malty and sweet bocks can be. I associate that style more with Christmas because they tend to be spicy, sweet and syrupy, but fest beers don’t carry that same intensity.
The first time I had the beer I’m reviewing was at a local little gem, over on Penn’s campus — City Tap House. My father, another local gem in Drexel’s facilities department, joined me to sup and sip! This fantastic place has live music, great food and several rows of beers on tap. Perusing the menu, I came to the last beer on the list: Victory Festbier. The first thing I noticed when it was poured was that it had no carbonation whatsoever. This beer did everything to keep its flavors from being sharp. There was no hop presence, so what stood out was the big malt and cereal backbone. Pushing through that though were some subtle hints of dark jamlike fruits, like raisins. I don’t know if oats are used in the making of this particular beer, but I’d bet money on it, as one of the biggest flavors comes out like you were eating raw Quaker oatmeal. The flavor actually reminds me of an oatmeal raisin cookie. The entire flavor profile brings autumn to the forefront of my mind.
This beer doesn’t really go with food. While I’ve told you about these flavors I picked out, they’re subtle and mellow, and any powerful food will overpower the charm this beer brings to your lips. What this beer goes great with is itself. I highly suggest you pick up a case of it and enjoy a relaxing weekend slowly sipping on them. They’re light enough to keep drinking without getting bogged down with heaviness or booziness. I feel it captures the feel of a traditional German flavor in more than one way — being made locally in Pennsylvania. It’s something you can enjoy drinking slowly for the taste. You can drink it all day without getting drunk. It feels to me like a great beer to have for a weekend with your friends. Hole up in a cabin somewhere, grab a case of beers, a deck of cards and just have a relaxing weekend.
I’d give this beer a solid seven-eight out of 10. Celebrate the season with a couple brews and unwind. You don’t have to go hard with this one, and that’s what I love about it. It’s not the heaviest, but it doesn’t hold back on flavor either. Just make sure not to pair it with anything strong, and you can’t go wrong!