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What to drink for Oktoberfest: Sam Adams

Posted by ABC Fine Wine & Spirits on September 24, 2018

In Beer, Oktoberfest

Ah, Sam Adams, an iconic American name, if controversial. Are they craft, aren’t they craft? Once you taste their 2018 Oktoberfest, you’ll realize it really doesn’t matter because they can brew a consistently complex beer. Brewer Jennifer Glanville shared with us a little bit about where they’ve come from and where they’re headed in the world of German beers.


ABC: Your first Octoberfest was in 1987. How has the Sam Adams Octoberfest evolved? 

Jennifer Glanville, Sam Adams: We’ve been brewing OctoberFest the same way since 1987, so it’s the same delicious beer today that it was when Jim first brewed more than 30 years ago. Our Octoberfest is a classic Märzen style brewed with five different kinds of malt and two types of German Noble hops, Hallertau Mittelfrueh and Tettnang Tettnanger. The result is a medium-bodied lager with a rich malt complexity, roasty notes of caramel and toffee, and a smooth, sweet finish.

What led Sam Adams to make Octoberfest?

When Jim Koch our Brewer and Founder had his first taste of an Oktoberfest beer in Munich in the early 70s, it was love at first pint! It was rich and sweet and unlike any beer he had ever tasted. Fifteen years later when he started Sam Adams, he returned to Bavaria to find those beautiful Noble hops that we use in Samuel Adams Boston Lager, and wanted to brew an Octoberfest that was true to the traditional style that he remembered from his trip.

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What does Sam Adams bring to the Oktoberfest style that others don’t?

It’s really all about the malt! We like to say that our Octoberfest is “A Malt Lover’s Dream.” The different roasted malts are balanced by the spicy bitterness of the hops. Ours has just 16 bitterness units, and we worked hard to make the balance just right.

What can we expect from Sam Adams in the next 5 years?

We’re a leading craft brewer in an industry that continues to grow, so it’s an exciting time to be a brewer! Drinkers can expect us to continue brewing great beer using only the highest quality ingredients, experimenting with different recipes and processes, with the goal of bringing a better glass of beer to our drinkers.