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With its rich, malty flavors, Oktoberfest is king of the fall beers

By Maura Wery

The fall means it’s time for lots of different seasonal foods: pumpkin bread, pies and, for those who love a good brew, it is also time for a popular style of beer called Oktoberfest.

Oktoberfest is usually described as a Marzen-style German beer.

The brews are a rich, dark malty lager and sometimes have caramel notes and can be somewhat bitter.

For those who are lovers of the beer, many varieties are available at your liquor store of choice.

For those who are fans of beer on tap, the two breweries in the area, Tallgrass and Little Apple Brewery, offer local varieties.   

Little Apple Brewing Company

Little Apple Brewing Company takes its Oktoberfest brews pretty seriously, seeing as they have five of them. Co-owner Kelly Loub said this is the brewery’s favorite time of the year.

“We make five seasonal Oktoberfest brews, and they are all on tap,” Loub said. “We had our Oktoberfest last weekend where we tapped them all.”

Loub said that the brewery just sort of “does its own thing” for its Oktoberfest. Loub said that each people gather on the brewery’s back patio and have a great time.

“We had about 250 to 275 people show up this year,” Loub said. “We had wiener dog races and people came dressed up in their lederhosen.  We have some of the best German food in town, if not the area and we just have a great time.” 

Those who would like to catch the brews during the season might want to get to the brewery sooner than later.

“After last weekend, we went through half of our Oktoberfest brew,” Loub said. “We will have all the brews until they run out but we might make it to next week with the Oktoberfest and the others will probably last until November when we get our pumpkin ale.”


Tallgrass Brewery

Tallgrass Brewery had an Oktoberfest in the works, but it won’t be out this year.

“We intended to come out with an Oktoberfest with my father’s honey,” said Jeff Gill, Tallgrass founder. “We had to put it on hold because of demand but we are developing a Vanilla Bean Buffalo Sweat.”

Gill said that the new flavor of Buffalo Sweat will feature vanilla notes that should complement the coffee and chocolate flavors of the original brew well.

Gill said that the vanilla flavor is still in the processing phases but should be available in November both on tap and in the 16-ounce cans. 

Gill said that the brewery is also thinking about adding its own take on another popular fall beer: pumpkin ale.

“There is a really big popularity in pumpkin beers,” Gill said. “That’s something that we are looking at for next year.”

Gill said that there are a lot of seasonal beers and ales for those who enjoy them. Gill said that he would suggest choosing a beer with a higher alcohol content, made with seasonal spices and flavors. He suggests any kind of Imperial Stout.


The liquor store shelves

For those who prefer their beers bottled, consumers can choose from several Oktoberfest varieties.

Jason Hennigh is an employee at Nespor’s Wine and Liquor. The store carries many fall style beers.

Hennigh said that this year, the Sam Adams Oktoberfest is the most popular sale.

“It runs out the fastest,” Hennigh said. “The seasons change and the beer changes with it.”

Other beers of that type include Schafly Pumpkin Ale and Marzen Lager from Left Hand Brewing Company. Free State Brewery in Lawrence also produces an Oktoberfest beer sold at Nespor’s.

Hennigh thinks that the popularity of the beer definitely comes from more than just the taste.

“The actual German Oktoberfest has something to do with it,” Hennigh said. He believes that the military population, many of whom have served in Germany, has something to do with the popularity.

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