9/20/20: West Sixth Brewing's DankeChain Oktoberfest

10:44 AM

It's sunny and breezy. I'm wearing a hoodie. I know it's not *technically* fall until later on this week, but whatever. It's fall now. And I'm excited to get into the first official beer of my newly proclaimed fall: West Sixth's Oktoberfest, DankeChain.

Why am I excited? Well, West Sixth has produced two of my favorite beers: Snake Eyes (a very good stout) and Belgian Blonde (which is my favorite example of the style and one that I could've sworn I'd discussed on the blog before. I'll have to remedy that soon). I can't wait to see the treatment they give an Oktoberfest lager.

It's been a bit since I've featured West Sixth, so let me give you a little rundown on the brewery. Based in Lexington, KY, West Sixth opened its doors in 2012. The brewery's housed in an old bread factory and is the livelihood of over forty people. They brew a wide array of styles and are focused on sustainability and supporting their community. Check of the "About" section of their homepage if you want to learn more.

Now that we know the brewery, what about today's beer? DankeChain's official writeup bills the 5.5% ABV lager as "...easy drinking...with a subtle complexity." It has notes of toast, bread crust, and biscuit with "traditionally noble" hops. I'm not versed enough to know a traditionally nobel hop from any other kind, but, nevertheless, my excitement remains.

I'm finding biscuit, toast, honey, caramel, and, inexplicably, mild Vienna sausage on the lager's nose. Now, it could be that I saw the sausage on the can's label and my mind's conjuring a sausagey aroma, but, regardless, I'm picking it up here. It's a sweetly aromatic beer (seriously. I'm also getting a little bit of purple grape juice. Out of nowhere), with a little bit of hops adding a cold bitterness to the bouquet. Overall, I like it. So does Purrl. She gave my can three whiffs and came back for six more. That's a total of nine whiffs, for those of you keeping track at home.

That grape juice that emerged from the shadows in the nose is incredibly present in the lager's flavor profile. I mean, yeah, biscuit, toast, caramel, honey, all those standard Oktoberfest flavors are here, but the grape juice is the first flavor I taste. It swells with the other flavors before dissipating into the hops that linger with malty sweetness in the finish. There's no sausage.

I'm not super impressed with the lager's mouthfeel. DankeChain is carbonated, sure, but barely. It drinks a lot more lackluster than other Oktobefests I've had this season. Just on the north side of watery. A little bitey, but not much.

It's the grape juice to the beer. It has to be the grape juice. See, I'm thinking about Communion in church as a kid as I'm drinking this. They'd pass around a tray with tiny plastic glasses that held an ounce of grape juice and another tray with a small cube of bread. We'd drink and eat in tandem with the instructions provided by the pastor. 

It wasn't a Catholic church, so Communion wasn't an every week thing. It was reserved for special occasions. I remember summer Communions the most. Sitting in a stuffy sanctuary while dust floated in the sunlight. I remember the smell of the fabric on the pew cushions and the mustiness of the Hymnals. 

These are strange memories for an Oktoberfest to dredge up on an autumnal day. But, then again, DankeChain isn't your standard Oktoberfest.

I thought I was going to love West Sixth's entry into the style. And, while it's good, I don't love it. That grapey touch isn't really doing it for me. My can's still a 7.5/10, though. And, who knows--if you love grape juice this might just be the beer for you.

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