BeerSport: Oktoberfest Take 2

The name of the game is BeerSport – two beers enter, one beer leaves. Beersport.

I don’t we’re starting to cross into stout season, but imo Oktoberfests go right up until Thanksgiving, they’re a nice meaty supper beer. Anyway, These are the two _other_ beers from the Saranac Oktoberfest pack dual BeerSport I did.

This time It’s the 1888 Octoberfest facing off against the Black Forest Schwarzbier. The Octoberfest is billed as an ‘authentic German-style lager’, but comes in a little low at 5.4% and the Black Forest is named for the homeland of Saranac’s founder. 5.3%.

Preconceived notions on these is that I thought I’d had the Black Forest before and liked it, but actually that was the Black Forest Cake. I expect the Octoberfest, and apologies if I add a k to that–never trust an Octoberfest, to be pretty typical of the style.


Octoberfest is a little darker than I’d like, and maybe has a little too much malt. Only a little bit of head. Looks fine.

Black Forest. It’s black? Just a hint of lighter/cola colors around the edge. Pretty coffee colored head. 

Edge: Black Forest


Octoberfest: A malty smell with hint of some cherry perhaps. Whiff of sulfur. Smells a little sweeter than I expected. 

Black Forest is very clean. Aroma is very light. Also get some sweetness, more than I expected. Sort of a dank sweetness, that fades into more of a light coffee note. Not fresh coffee, but just that impression you get when you walk into somewhere where coffee is frequently brewed, but is not actively being brewed. 

Edge: Octoberfest


This is definitely a sweeter Octoberfest. Are all of Saranac’s sweet? This is fine, there’s not quite that sulfury/yeasty richness that usually cuts the Octoberfest malts here. It’s faint, but it needs more. It’s very drinkable though, and it definitely tastes better after you acclimate to the extra sweetness.

Black Forest. The black forest might be more drinkable though. Its got that light coffee note, maybe a hint of cola but it’s that sweetness playing with me perhaps. It’s light though, airy. 

Edge:Black Forest


The Octoberfest has a little more of a beer feel, it’s a little fuller. The black forest is very airy, tickles your tongue and then moves along. They’re both basically the same 5.4 or 5.3 ABV, which is low for an Octoberfest. 

Edge: Octoberfest


Neither of these are great beers, they’re good, but they’re forgetable. The Octoberfest just missing the mark, and is a little weak. The Schwarzbier is just lacking alittle bit overall in flavor.  It just needs a little bit more there. 

Winner: Octoberfest takes it home here, barely, with a more beer like experience.

Ceetar can be found on Twitter and Untappd where he’s currently on vacation in Mexico, sipping bad beer or tequila by the pool.  You can also email him at

BeerSport: Oktoberfest Edition

The name of the game is BeerSport – two beers enter, one beer leaves. Beersport.

I meant to make BeerSport a regular feature here on Barley Prose, reborn from the glory Beergraphs days, but alas, it’s been nearly two years since I last did it. Time flies, and apparently Oktoberfests make me want to drink two.

If you’re not familiar, I drink two beers at the same time, and compare and contrast them in the five tradition categories of Appearance, Smell, Taste, Mouthfeel and Overall, and declare a winner in each. Today’s contestants are two beers out of Saranac’s 12 Beers of Octoberfest Variety pack, the Hoptoberfest IPA and the Festival Pils.

Oktoberfest is a special time for me–I got married in October, and my wife’s family is German, though Northern Germany which is actual quite different. More Prussian versus Holy Roman Empire stuff, but nonetheless, passion for beer. We visited Munich in 2012 for Oktoberfest, and it was absolutely amazing. Delicious roasted macadamia nuts, half-meter bratwurst, and beers as far as the eye could see.

None of these beers are as good as those, but let’s get to it.


Both lighter beers, clean looking. The pils is golden, and very pretty. The hoptoberfest is a little more of a bronze, clearly with some slightly darker malts. Head pretty similar. Labels are both pretty neat, the Pils features steins of beer in front of a beer hall, lots of Bavarian blue and white.  Hoptoberfest is more of a green and white hop theme, with clinking glasses. Since this is a fall BeerSport, I’m gonna give the slight nod to the more traditional Pils.

Winner: Festival Pils


The Pils has some malt though. It’s got some sulfury aroma, spicy german hops? Reminds me of biergartens, though not Munich’s.

Hoptoberfest smells like an ‘old school’ east coast IPA. one with plenty of malt backbone. Not surprising for a NE brewery trying to make a “hoppy oktoberfest” light hints of caramel, maybe some pine? Gonna go for the Pils on this one, just a little bit more appealing. I like the sulfur smell more than the taste.

Winner: Pils


That’s a pilsner. It’s nice. Pilsners aren’t really my favorite, but they’re inherently drinkable regardless. The sulfur taste is there, but muted. Some light sucking candy sweetness, but it’s balanced nicely by some hop bitterness to make it just crisp enough to want another sip. 

The Hoptoberfest? Yeah, that’s a East Coast IPA circa like 2002. It’s got some caramel sweetness, probably typical of a Märzen grain bill, but plenty of sticky pine hops to bitter. It’s not cloying or anything, but there’s an ever present sweetness to it that just doesn’t jibe with the hops. We’ve come a long way and learned a lot about IPAs and the malt/hop balance and we’re better for it. This beer is fine, but I didn’t miss it. 

Winner: Pils


The Pils is crisp on the tongue at first, acid like, and then you get some of the sweetness, that fades into a little bit of like, resiny stickiness, just a hint of it.  Coming in at 5.2%, it feels nice. 

6% on the Hoptoberfest. It’s got some of that sweetness that lingers, before the pine puckers your mouth a little.

Winner: Pils


Well, I didn’t expect this one to be such a runaway. The pils is a nice solid easy drinking beer, perfect for a festival or a party or just a night outside by the fire. 

The hoptoberfest is..meh. It’s fine, but it didn’t need to be like this. The oktoberfest style is a great beer, and this basically tried to add hops on top of that and it just doesn’t work that well. 

Winner: Festival Pils in a landslide!

So there you have it. Stay tuned for round two of the Saranac battle, as I pit the 1888 Octoberfest up against the Black Forest Schwarzbier.

Ceetar can be found on Twitter and Untappd where he’s probably drinking an Oktoberfest.  You can also email him at

Mets On Tap Episode 25

You can email us questions, comments, and beer recs at

Michael, Chris, Jason and Jake talk about the weird yellow  City Connect jerseys the Red Sox where wearing, about Pedro Feliciano, Fernando Martinez, and Danny Heep.

We talk about cool merchandise from The7Line, including this Pepsi Party Patrol windbreaker.

We talk about Oktoberfest, the Goonies, beer tourism, and gateway beers.

Then Botty has a weird conversation to talk us out.

  • Michael: Cape May Oktoberfest
  • Jason: Southern Tier Nice Slice
  • Jake: Bosque Brewery IPA
  • Chris: Stoneyard Cannoli Cream Ale
  • Botty McBotface: 33 Liters of Legal Tender

Follow Us On Twitter: Jason, Michael,Chris, and Jake.

And check out Barley Prose on Instagram for more beer content.

Please rate (5 David Wright   ..or Davey Johnson..or Ed Charles.. Stars!) and review the podcast on Apple PodcastsGoogle Podcasts, your favorite nail salon, or just scribble the URL on a cocktail napkin at your local brewery.

Inaugural Barley Prose Beersport: Oktoberfest Edition

The name of the game is Beersport – two beers enter, one beer leaves. Beersport.

The return of Beersport! Made famous by J.R. Shirt on BeerGraphs and on the Drinking With Shirt Podcast. Feel free to badger Shirt to reprise either here. This classic beer competition returns with a classic Oktoberfest battle between Von Trapp Oktoberfest and Alementary Oktoberfest. Vermont vs. New Jersey. Go. 

Oktoberfest season is tailing off as October comes to an end, but I assure you these beers are still tasty well into November, and further!

Preconceived Notions:
I’ve had both these of these beers a fair amount. I like them both. The style is not super broad that I can easily say much about them cold, so it’ll still be a good head to head battle. I’m a member of Alementary’s Order of the Atom, which maybe gives this an unconscious bias, but you’re just going to have to live with that. 

The Von Trapp had better head retention, otherwise they’re both pretty similar bronze colors typical of an Oktoberfest. The packaging is both appropriately Bavarian blue with the brewery logo. Both in 12oz cans. 

Winner: Von Trapp

The Von Trapp has a sweet malt smell with a lot of light biscuity caramel notes. Reminds me some of some dark cherry smells. 

The Alementary has a much stronger smell, and a much richer one. Almost like a fresh loaf of bread with butter wafting into your nose. 

Winner: Alementary

It’s a fairly gentle sweetness with the Von Trapp, but with some bitterness/astringency. The malt is not dominating as much as I would like, with some drying taste on my mouth from the hops. Though the malt builds with each sip which is nice, it sort of rounds out into form. 

Alementary’s taste is rich too, with a nice complex malt flavor. It’s sweeter and maltier. A nice sweet glaze on a good loaf of bread. This beer has a vibrant taste and rich malt flavor, but not overbearingly so. There’s a sense of fullness that then fades into a gentle almost honey aftertaste.

Winner: Alementary

Von trapp tastes a little airier, a little more carbonated, and a little less full bodied.

Alementary is almost sticky, and hits more tastebuds, is a more fullfilling experience.

Winner: Alementary

I like both beers. They both make me happy. The Von Trapp is a little simpler, maybe a little easier to drink in volume, but the Alementary is a more complete beverage and is really wonderful. 

Beersport Winner: Alementary

Alementary takes down the inaugural BarleyProse Beersport. Great beer, check it out.

Ceetar can be found on Twitter and Untappd where he’s pondering starting a Barley Prose podcast. You can also email him at

Beer’s Great Companion: The Pretzel

Beer and pretzels.  Great combo, classic combo even. I think the dryness of the baked bread and the wetness of the, well, the drink, is what draws them together. This isn’t the podcast Gastropod or Savor though, I’m not going to delve into the history of beer and pretzels, but I can imagine a barkeep thinking he needed something that would soak up some of the beer his customers were consuming.

I’m not going to pretend pretzel necklaces at beer festivals are classy or anything, but I see the appeal. It’s a fun little thing to do, it’s a portable snack, it’s that bar bowl of pretzels but in mobile form. Here’s a picture of me doing just that at a beer festival in Philadelphia back in 2011. 

Ceetar with his Pretzel Necklace and a small beer

Another classic place you get pretzels is, of course, Oktoberfest. Again, I don’t really know the history of this but I do have the suspicious that giant over-sized pretzels ‘Bavarian’ style are a somewhat new occurrence. These are typically a soft pretzel, very doughy, and very delicious. The pretzel has often risen during baking so much it’s actually split the outer shell, much like a well cooked bratwurst might. To continue the trend, here’s a picture of me at Oktoberfest 2012 with a giant pretzel and a liter of amazingly delicious beer. 

Ceetar with half a giant pretzel and a beer at Oktoberfest

And because a few months later I was still basking in the glory of that trip, here’s a piece of the Gingerbread House I made as an ode to the trip.

Gingerbread House of Oktoberfest beer vendor

Snyder’s makes an Oktoberfest style box of pretzels around this time of the year that you can find in stores. It’s nothing like a soft pretzel, though the description does say they let it rise longer to get that airiness. They’re very good pretzels, though they’re crunchy and hard. They’re airy on the inside and flake into pieces when you bite into them. I get a box every year.


Here’s a new product I stumbled upon recently. Typically you think of the malt part of beer going well with pretzels. The sweeter, breadier part of the beer right? These guys from Unique are made with malted barley AND hops. That’s cool! That means it’s got grain, yeast, hops and water in the process…which means that these pretzels ARE beer? Blowing my mind right here. sourdough pretzel ring

They’re sourdough so they already lend a little different mouthfeel and a little bit of tanginess that’s different from other pretzels. The hops are surprisingly apparent though. I find often these ‘craft beer ITEM’ purchases are very meh, especially when they’ve got such a gimmicky name. The french fries? Couldn’t tell. These pretzels have a slight hop bite to them though, that taste of the beer foam of an IPA, that slight grassy bitterness that hops give. It took a little getting used to, but once my taste buds adjusted I did really enjoy these.

Pretzels taste good! Who knew?

Please tweet your best pretzel necklaces and follow Barley Prose on Twitter and Facebook. You can also follow Ceetar.

The Seasons Change, The Beer Remains Delicious

oktoberfest 2012Is it fall now? Society as a whole basically says Labor Day denotes when summer ends, if not when fall starts. Particularly in the Northeast where schools mostly start right after Labor Day. Back to school, last summer holiday, now it’s fall? Fall is the best season but I steadfastly remain a ‘September is still summer’ member. I went apple picking in mid-September a few years ago and it was 90 degrees and we all melted and my kid had a fever the whole time that we didn’t realize until we got somewhere cooler. No wonder she was dragging her feet.

We know the beer seasons are all screwed up, tied to distribution and seasonal tap space. I read a story a few years ago that basically explained seasonal creep as the bigger guys like Sam Adams making sure Octoberfest was available when Summer Ale ran out so they didn’t lose the tap handle in bars. So we literally drank the summer away..but fall doesn’t really start until the equinox, which is September 23rd at 7:50 UTC. That’s Monday. If you want to say fall starts at noon Munich time, on Saturday the 21st, I’ll allow it. 

Oktoberfest. I have very fond memories of my time there in 2012, and I’ve been a lover of the style for even longer. I mentioned that bought a case of Sierra Nevada’s for an early August birthday party, and you shouldn’t be surprised that it’s long gone. The remains of summer? I spent a lot of September finishing those off. Now, fall for real. 

The Märzen style, which can vary from gold to light copper in color and flavor, is a delicious one. Deliciously malty. Not a hophead? Try Märzenbier! Biscuity and caramely notes are usually prevalent. This is one of those styles that really nails the ‘liquid bread’ moniker. I’ve had just about every different one I can get my hands on. I make a point around this time of year, last Monday this year, to go into a shop that sells singles and buy every Oktoberfest I’ve never had. It gets harder and harder, but there are always a few. Then I load up on old favorites. 

Something I’ve noticed this year is that two of my favorites, Sam Adams Octoberfest and Brooklyn Oktoberfest, came across a little sweeter than I remember. My palate perhaps is changing more than I’d realized, though I have to admit by the time I got to the second, and third, Brooklyn bottle out of the 6-pack I’d bought, It was just as good as I remembered. I’m not sure there’s any beer more appropriate to drink in volume as an Oktoberfest. 


To summarize: 

-It’s not really fall until AT LEAST the opening of Oktoberfest in Munich.

-Don’t be afraid to finish off those summer beers.

-Oktoberfests are delicious and you should consume them en masse, or en Maß, the traditional measurement of for the amount of beer in an Oktoberfest mug.