9/4/19: Thirsty Dog Brewing Company's Barktoberfest

5:47 PM

We're through Labor Day which, around these parts, means it's officially Oktoberfest season. Prost! Today, I'm kicking off the seasonal fun with a beer that's been on my list for a long while--one that I'm glad I'll finally be able to scratch off of it: Thirsty Dog's Barktoberfest.

I'll be the first to say that I don't drink much Thirsty Dog--it's not super readily available in my area. In fact, Barktoberfest is only the sixth beer I've had from them. Since the other five (12 Dogs of Christmas, it's BBA variant, Siberian Night, Imperial Old Leghumper, and Old Choco [the latter three of these never made it to the blog]) were all top-tier brews, I think it's safe to say my anticipation is pretty high here.

Based out of Akron, OH (where they have three locations; they also have one in Cleveland) Thirsty Dog focuses on beers that are crafted to appeal to a wide range drinkers. Shirking the norm of macro brews, they craft offerings with a number of different hop and malt varieties. If you'd like to know more, feel free to check out their "Our Beers" page.

Barktoberfest (that link goes to its official write-up) is an traditional Oktoberfest beer. Clocking it at 6.16% ABV, this malty lager is brewed "...with German yeast, hops, and German style grain."

The bouquet is hands-down the best I've encountered in an Oktoberfest (German friends, please note that I've only really had American Märzens, although next September I hope to try a few imported ones). It's perfectly balanced between sweet and roasty malt and bitter hops. Something I really like here is how the hops give it an almost minty note, which I wouldn't have expected but I find pleasant nevertheless. Purrl isn't as about the nose as I am--she gave my bottle three whiffs and nothing more.

The flavor on this thing is something else. It's much more complex than what I've come to expect from the style: Sweet and yeasty on the fore, before nestling into dark, rich roastiness. This ebs away to Barktoberfest's long finish that starts with a bite of that mild hop bitterness (think something like black coffee) and finishes with a refrain of the good, caramel malt backbone that begins each swig. This is a lager that's worth savoring.

However, saying it's worth savoring doesn't mean that you necessarily have to do so. It's an easy drinking brew, thanks to its light body and slight carbonation. You could easily go whole hog Oktoberfest with this and slam down a few bottles in a matter of minutes. I just don't think you'd want to do that.

I remember the first time I had an Oktoberfest beer. It was big and malty, begging for swig after swig until my bottle was gone. More than the taste of it, though, I remember how much I immediately aligned the style with fall. Now I can't think of Oktoberfest without thinking about sun filtering through amber leaves as they dance through the wind. It's a little warm tonight, but, thanks to the beer in my bottle, I'm easily able to capture a some of that coming autumnal goodness.

I am happy to report that Barktoberfest lives up to the pedigree that I've come to expect from Thirsty Dog. For a brewery that doesn't seem to get a ton of press, they sure know what they're doing. This has instantaneously become my favorite of the style. I'm giving Barktoberfest a 10/10. We'll see how the rest of this month's Märzens do in comparison.

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