POSTED ON NOVEMBER 5, 2008:
Beers for Cheers
If you want egg in your brew, take it to the grocery store. But if you want beverages that stick to your ribs and linger on the tastebuds, try some of these
Autumn breezes are always a welcomed relief to the sweltering Oklahoma summers, and while it's tough to relinquish some of the popular summer brews that helped cool those long summer months, it's now time to sample a few new malted, distilled and finely fermented beverages to celebrate the coming brisk months.
Each autumn, Urban Tulsa Weekly takes on the daunting task of sampling some new (and returning) beers, wines and spirits in an effort to recommend some new drink choices to our readers.
As the Tulsa liquor market welcomed a fresh line of inventory geared toward the season, our tasting took us through more than 30 beers, exquisite wines, rums, vodkas, whiskeys, coffee liqueurs and more.
As always, I handpicked my sampling audience in order to provide varied levels of expertise. The group included veteran drinkers (those discerning drinkers who got their start in college), moderate drinkers (those who know a good beer when they taste it), beginning drinkers (those who enjoy a good beer every now and then), and a few levelers who generally don't opt for beer.
This expert panel evaluated the following beers for appearance, aroma, palate and flavor. Individual comments were encouraged. Judging ranged from 1 to 5, on each of the four aforementioned categories, with 20 points totaling a perfect beer. From the 30-plus beer contenders, the highest ranked earn a spot on the top 20 list, followed by honorable mentions.
Sidle Up to the Table
So, grab your beer stein, loosen your lederhosen and let's get going-- first the beers.
Number 20 on the list is Samuel Smith Organically Produced Lager. The malted barley and hops used to make this beer have been grown without the use of chemical sprays or artificial fertilizer. Our tasters said this is a good drinking beer for cooler weather. While the smell is reminiscent of college frat party aftermath, the taste is a pleasant surprise. One said, "It's a lot like Tulsa. There is more there than first appears." A few commented that it is clean and clear; one commented that it made him feel healthy. It's a good, full-bodied lager.
Coming in at number 19 is Left Hand Brewing Company's Oktoberfest Märzen Lager. Märzen is a German style beer with a full body, malty flavor, and clean, dry finish. This sweet, almost fruity beer has a deep amber color. One commented that it tasted like the "Britney Spears of beers. It looks great, but a little crazy when you get to know it." Overall, samplers agreed that it had a good, smooth taste. It has a short head when pouring with some lacing.
At 18 is Abita Fall Fest, a full-bodied copper lager. This beer is just a solid autumn brew pick, the group said. The color is striking amber. This beer is available through November and is brewed with German Hersbrucker hops and pale, crystal and chocolate malts. The lager is full-bodied and malty with strong hops. While the aroma might not be a winner, the taste is crafted for the seasonal brew aficionado.
Next at 17 is Flying Dog's Dogtoberfest. This Märzen has a caramel finish and is always a fun beer to sample, if nothing else for the bold and fanciful label, which samplers described as sweety, awesome, very creative and funky. It pours very clear; Oktoberfest at the fire hydrant. A few commented that it has a soft, salty taste and aroma, ending almost sharply.
An Eastern European contender, Zatec ranks at number 16. Hailing from the Czech Republic, the bright lager beer is bottled in an almost pint-sized bottle. Zatec is a region west of Prague known for its fine quality of hops, which result in a beer that tastes like fresh-baked bread. Our judges said this lager is medium-bodied, with a slight herbal aroma; a sweet (yet bitter), smooth-bodied, good drinking beer. It pours with minimal head and has a golden hue.
Number 15 goes to Abita Pecan Harvest, a beer that just screams autumn. Made with real Louisiana pecans, this beer is made with the nuts' oils to produce a light pecan finish and aroma. One of our tasters said it had a cheery flavor and would be great on tap. "Save the pecans for the pie," said another, less enthusiastically. This beer should pair well with red meat, seafood and, yes, more nuts.
Stevens Point Oktoberfest Märzen comes in at 14. Tulsa distributor, Jarboe Sales Company, supplied us with a number of samples of the Stevens Point (and Great Divide Brewing Co.) beers. One drinker called it a decent beer, perhaps a workman's beer for lunch. It is highly carbonated with a sweet smell. At the same time, the flavor, said one, is flat without much taste. It's a light lager beer crafted using Hallertauer hops and sweet Vienna roasted malts. One taster thought this lager would go great with pizza.
Next, at 13, is Great Divide Brewing Company's Titan IPA. This beer can aptly be described as an aggressively hopped India Pale Ale that "starts out with piney hop aromas and citrus hop flavors and finishes with a rich, malty sweetness that is balanced with crisp hop bitterness." Oh yeah. The appearance is a dark, golden autumnal color with a slight cloudiness. One said it tasted soapy at first with too strong an aftertaste. One thought it was a weak effort for an IPA, saying it stings the nostrils like mild bleach. Others found it smooth, yet strong, with a soil of the earth taste. IPAs always make for a tasty autumn brew, but this isn't one of the best.
Always a favorite among our tasters is Samuel Smith's (Contractors to Her Majesty's Forces) Imperial Stout, which earns seat number 12. This dark chocolate colored stout has a "tire rubber" taste: very rich, full of flavor, and complex hops, alcohol and yeast. Drink with caution!
Beck's Oktoberfest earned the number 11 spot. This beer was a hit among the tasters, with one saying "it is what I would expect for Beck's." Still, the results were divided. One said it was "one of my favorites," while another said "it was an insult to German beer." The seasonal brew has a reddish, g