There’s something beautiful about the simplicity of a lager. Sure, lagers might be more complex to brew than your typical ale, but the result is often less than complex. Crisp, clean, easy drinking without a lot of layers…that’s the American lagers a lot of us grew up drinking. And there’s nothing wrong with drinking a beer that doesn’t challenge your palate—a beer that’s meant to be crushed out of the can, not put into a fancy glass that enhances the nose. And plenty of craft breweries make easy drinking lagers reminiscent of the Buds you snuck from your dad’s fridge in high school, but this particular beer isn’t one of them. Upslope’s Oktoberfest Lager might be easy drinking, but this malt-forward, traditional take on the German Oktoberfest lager style is anything but simple.
The beer pours a deep, burnt sienna with a hefty head, and smells rather “lagerish,” with nothing in the subtle nose to suggest there’s anything particularly interesting going on in the beer. The nose lies. While most lagers are crisp, practically disappearing on the tongue, this beer comes at you all soft and supple, with round edges and malty bones that stick around until you’re ready for the next sip. The beer is rich, without being heavy, with strong hints of milk chocolate and caramel. After digging into the glass, I also uncovered a fruity element—not so much citrus but something much more subtle, like melon, maybe honeydew. Everything works together to deliver a smooth, missile of a beer that’s just sweet enough to make you think ever sip is a treat.
Upslope keeps it traditional with the ingredients (Hallertau Mittelfruh hops, Munich malt, German lager yeast) to hit all of the Oktoberfest hallmarks, and the result is an excellent example of the style. The 5.1% ABV keeps it sessionable, and the big, 19.2-ounce can makes it crushable.
Upslope released the beer in mid September at a backcountry bar the brewery built 2.5 miles deep into the forest near Winter Park, Colorado. Fans had to hike a trail to get to the beer. (Check out the pictures of the release and bar in this gallery.) You don’t have to put in so much effort. Look for the beer in big boy cans on shelves now throughout Upslope’s distribution.
Brewery: Upslope Brewing
City: Boulder, Colo.
Availability: Limited, 19.2-ounce cans