9/17/21: Bell's Brewery, Inc.'s Octoberfest Beer

12:29 PM

It's a gorgeous mid-September day in my little corner of the world (that's east-of-Cincinnati, middle-of-nowhere to you). The sun's high overhead, there're a few clouds scattered across the sky, the summer's last insects are buzzing blissfully in the tall grass and woods of the lot nextdoor, and the oppressive heat has finally let us be. I have some work before me this afternoon still (cutting the grass and an oil change), but it's time for a well-deserved break.

The beer I'm using to supplement that break is Bell's Octoberfest Beer. This is one I've been itching to try for years, but haven't found it in time to fit it into the blog's Oktoberfest schedule. Thankfully, that's changing today.

Odds are pretty good you've heard of Bell's. Larry Bell opened his homebrewing store in Kalamazoo, MI in 1983. Two years later, Larry brewed and sold his first commercial beer. Bell's grew and grew and their main production location, the Comstock brewery, opened in 2002. They've since continued to grow and expand, and Bell's beer is one of the foremost offerings many people (particularly those in the eastern midwest) think of when they hear about craft beer. Here's Bell's Our Story page, if you have a hankering for their full history.

Bell's Octoberfest Beer is a 5.5% ABV Märzen-style amber lager that boasts herbal hop aromatics and a toasted malt bill that lends much to the beer's body but little to it's sweetness. Like I said, I've been itching to try this brew for years. Here we go.

Octoberfest Beer's bouquet hits me with wet straw, honey, biscuits, toffee, and toast. There's something else here that I think is attributable to the lager's hops: decaying leaves, my favorite of the aromas associated with the autumnal season. It's only slight here, but it's unmistakable. Purrl couldn't get enough of my bottle (she's an autumn fanatic, too). She gave Bell's Märzen seventeen whiffs.

The flavor of this thing has me floored. The lager rushes to meet each pull with a sudden flourish of malty sweetness (honey and toffee, like what I picked up on in the aroma) that's immediately tempered with hops. This isn't a sweet beer, but it has a ghost of sweetness to it. The hop bite (grounded and earthy, tree bark-like) really mellows the lager and insists on my taking another swig. Before I do, though, I find myself pausing to note the last effective bit of that sweetness (with some caramel added into the mix here) lingering in my mouth and on my lips.

When I think of how an Oktoberfest-style beer should drink, be it Märzen or festbier, it's just like what Bell's Octoberfest drinks like: easy, full but not bloating, crushable. Each swig begetting another and another still. Give me some polka and sign me up.

You ever just have one of those perfectly golden fall days? When I ran cross country in high school, we would run through a field sometimes during practice. This was to help with endurance training and to help our feet and ankles attune themselves to running on uneven ground. I vividly recall one late-afternoon in that field. The sun was sinking ever closer to the horizon. This was either late-September or early-October. The air was dry and had a chill. The hay that overgrown the field had recently been cut and baled and its fragrance lingered heavy in the brisk air. The trees at the edge of the field, holding back the wood, were alight with their red and gold fall coloring.

The link shared above, the one in the description of the beer, states that it's "Perfect for...the start of the Michigan autumn." I'd easily lump Ohio into that. I'm sitting on my porch in late-summer, but I can feel autumn coming on. And damn if Bell's Octoberfest Beer isn't perfect for it. This is an easy 10/10 for me. My highest recommendation. Go out and drink some.

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