Altoberfest | Element Brewing Company

23 Reviews
no score
Send samples

Brewed by:
Element Brewing Company
Massachusetts, United States

Style: Märzen / Oktoberfest

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 8.35%

Availability: Fall

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by rudzud on 09-22-2010

For Trade:
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Reviews: 23 | Ratings: 51
Photo of Kgoldsbe
3.49/5  rDev -15.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Important that you serve it at cask temperature (in °K on the label card) to fully enjoy all of its character. Hops prevalent, malt upfront, ends a bit medicinal.

 163 characters

Photo of laituegonflable
3.47/5  rDev -16%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Pours a dark brown red, scorched earth colour. Bit cloudy. Head is beige, small bubbles but retaining well. Looks pretty nice.

Smells malty; fairly English base but light fruity hops. Somewhat citric, touch of sherbet falls short of piney. Pretty light, nice base though.

Taste is a bit more hoppy. Still very English-seeming malt base, hint of toffee with lightly toasted cereal grain, then some resiny, slightly spicy hops. Dry and peppery with a touch of lemon pith. Falls disappointingly short as there's a potency in the midway that you would expect to last. Dry, bitter, quite malty. Pleasant enough.

Decent body, quite bitty at the back. Silty, even.

Nice sessionable brew. Decent balance.

 704 characters

Photo of lacqueredmouse
3.97/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Bottle number #520, purchased somewhere in Massachusetts by my mum, who brought it back to Australia. Shared with @LaitueGonflable. It's an odd-sized bottle, 25oz, not quite the full three-quarter litre. Caged and corked, and only identified by its accompanying card: the bottle was entirely wrapped in paper. Anyway...

Pours a cloudy amber hue, with a big rocky head of yellowed-white that settles down into a firm crest. Minimal lacing, but the body is pleasantly solid. Very little visible carbonation: it looks as though it's worn itself out just getting that aerated head together in the first place.

Pleasant, slightly earthy hop characters on the nose, balanced with some pleasantly rounded malt notes. These are a bit flat, and not as expressive as they might have been, but they provide a broad sweetness at least. Faint estery tones add a little brightness and a touch of pear. It's all pretty nice stuff, perhaps just a little muted.

Taste is very nice: clean and nutty, with a pleasant sweet-savoury malt providing the bulk of the flavour. Faint, restrained bitterness gives some balance. There are soda tones to it, perhaps cola and a slightly savoury stonefruit note, almost gamey but sweet. There's a hint of a medicinal character on the back; perhaps as the cola character picks up more of the bitterness. Finish has some husky, earthy grain. It's all rather pleasant though.

Feel is very smooth, and very pleasant.

Overall, this is very drinkable and really nicely balanced even as the flavours bounce around off each other. There certainly is plenty of flavour in any case. I liked it a lot.

 1,614 characters

Photo of VelvetExtract
2.98/5  rDev -27.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 2.5

A-Mostly clear, darker orange color. Medium sized tan, foamy head. Relatively light lacing.

S-A bit of an acrid aroma. Slightly vegetal 'off' aroma. Besides that, I get a beefed up Marzen with lots of toasty and caramelly maltiness.

T-The flavor is worse than the aroma. It tastes almost tart in a very unpleasant manner. Vegetal hops. A fruity yeast and again some stronger, thick toast and caramel. There is just an undesirable element (no pun intended) to this brew.

M-Light heat. Not too sticky. Soft bubbles. Actually one of the better aspects of this beer.

O/D-A double Marzen sounds cool but this one does not deliver. Also, coming in at about $16.50 for a 750ml is no good either. Have not been impressed with Element.

 730 characters

Photo of BlurryVisi0n
4.31/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Served in a tulip glass.

Appearance: Hazy amber with heavy bubbles on the body. White head thick in the beginning riding to about 1/3" settling quick.

Smell: Hard hops with rum type of scent...very yummy.

Taste: Bitter for an octoberfest. Hoppy and a slightly floral. It's simple as far as factors are concerned but ridiculously potent.

Mouth: Medium to heavy and smooth. Sticky bitter notes feels almost like tree bark at the end with a dose of bread.

Overall: Absolute beast of a beer. It is a little pricey considering that 17 bucks for one 750ml but then again we both know we'd spend more at a bar. Hope you all enjoy, Salud!

 640 characters

Photo of Deingeist
4.53/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I like regular Marzens a lot, it is one of the most drinkable beer styles and it has such great malt character. Element has managed to mix this style with a more bitter Altbier style, hence "Altoberfest". I'd say they did a damn fine job of it too. It's definitely something of it's own. It reminds me of a beligian or a wee heavy in strength of flavor though less estery, but with the flavor profile of a clean well balanced German beer. None of the bubblegum flavor that makes me shy away from many Belgians. It has a set of its own flavors, read on:

A: Pours a deep red amber color, slightly cloudy from the lack of filtration, a fat fingers worth of rocky cream colored head that eventually turns into a thin layer with rings where the bubbles are surfacing. Strong lacing.

S: It smells like malt, vanilla, and caramel but backed by a refreshing hop scent. Pleasant. Not as complex as an IPA for example, but inviting.

T: Big toffee/caramel flavor, figgy flavor up front, giving way to a smooth grainy malty/nutty flavor, all cleaned up with that Altbier hop and ever so slightly bitter on the finish. Really well done. The alcohol doesn't play a big part in the taste, which is great.

M: Medium body, but for a Marzen style I'd say it was heavy. Very smooth. Goes down really easy. Again well balanced. Not sticky like some maltier beers, and not resiny like an Imperial IPA, it's right in between. So good.

Overall: I'd buy this beer next year if they put it out again. 17 bucks for a bottle in my area (I live on the North Shore of MA) but it's worth it. I shared the bottle with a friend, and he loved it too. I don't think I'll be sharing it next time though. It's definitely a once a year kinda beer, but I think I'd pick up another bottle next year and see if putting it in the cellar changes it at all for better or worse.

 1,839 characters

Photo of Dope
4.15/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle 046 of 1329. Bottled on July 20th, 2012.

A: Pours a deep orange-red. Huge fluffy tan head. Specks of fluffy lacing left behind. Which is more than most element beers, at least. Decent retention.

S: Has a nice toasty aroma and nutty aroma, similar to a lot of brown ales. Some toffee and brown sugar to boot. Mild hoppiness, mostly herbal or grassy I would say.

T: Hops are a lot more prominent here. Grassy and herbal up front. Lots of toasted bread and caramel melds with it nicely. Sweetness fades a bit and the toasted bread gets a little bitter, borderline burnt. Grainy with touches of nuts. Finishes with more herbal, grassy hops.

M: Medium bodied, smooth and a bit grainy.

O: A really intriguing marzen for sure. Much stronger than any I've ever had. This basically craps on any other marzen I've had. Quite complex, nice hoppiness (but not overpowering, don't mistake it for an IPA or anything). Sharp, strong flavors that meld together nicely. Obviously not quite as drinkable at 8.35% but it's still plenty smooth.

 1,037 characters

Photo of mrcotter
4.08/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I have tried most of the Marzen/Octoberfest type beers available in my area. My previous favorite was Harpoon's.

This Element Altoberfest is a Marzen with the flavor turned up to a 10. I found it to be comparable to some Belgian ales I have tried.

On first pour it created a thick head which subsided somewhat quickly.

The first taste I noted was orange. That subsided as I drank it.

The high ABV was apparent but it did not reduce my enjoyment of the beer.

It was very sweet and malty. No discernible hops at all.

The aroma was a little sour.

As others have noted, the carbonation was light.

I like this a lot and would recommend this beer to others with the caveat that it is $18 per bottle. It is worth a try.

 721 characters

Photo of DrinkSlurm
4.12/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from caged bottle onto pint. Pours a deep amber with nice foamy off white head. Nice toasted boozey malt and dried fruit aromas. Really sweet malted booze. Some slight apple and peppery notes with a chocolate aftertaste. Really dry and boozey but easy to drink for the abv. Spectacular marzen/october. Really wish this was available in smaller and less pricey bottles.

 375 characters

Photo of Amalak
4.33/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A. Deep red color and extremely bubbly. Big, rich orange foamy head. Semi see through.
S. Has a bit of a sour scent.
T. Very sweet. Has a lemony taste. Nice pumpkin taste. Malty.
M. Very carbonated. A bit sour aftertaste.
O. Very flavorful, but a bit saison-ish.

 262 characters

Photo of HP1975
5/5  rDev +21.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

The color is copper with a deep red tint to it. It develops a nice eggshell-white head about a finger tall that, while not big or making a statement, actually lasts quite a while with nice lacing.

Maltier than it is hoppy, naturally, there is a very strong hop notel note to the bitterness that suggest a German hop varietal. A bit in the nose but more in the flavor, green grassy typical for a German hop. There's a touch of caramel as well, though it doesn't set the tone as it does in some. While Marzens shouldn't be massive beers, this ones strength does not distract from its overall intent.

The mouth feel is good with a uniform smoothness throughout riding off a steady malt finish.

 694 characters

Photo of beerwords
4.73/5  rDev +14.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a hazy rich amber color with a two finger head. The retention is reduced to a thin sticky lacy around the glass. Very malty beginning till end, lots of toasted caramel grain and an earthy aroma. Rich complex malt flavor balances the vienna and munich mallt nicely, finish is slightly sweet with German hop in aftertaste. Thick malty mouthfeel, perhaps to much for the 'true' Octoberfest style but extremely enjoyable!

 423 characters

Photo of ComputerBeer
4.95/5  rDev +19.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Pours a pretty dark copper color with a huge tight head. Some champagne like bubble trails.

The aroma is of caramel malts and German hops are pretty well balanced.

Some bitter with a lot of great Euro hop sweetness. I'm picking up a bit of herbal twang from the hops, which are more apparent on the tongue in the after taste. Impeccably balanced Oktoberfest brew. What I want in this style.

Bigger mouth on this one.. Thick very malty in mouth feel.

A very quality American beer that can hold up to any German Oktoberfest for the season. Will suit you just fine cold or warmed up a little. Opens up with some hand holding.

Serving type: 2012 bottle from Julio's

 666 characters

Photo of jbertsch
4.53/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle #174 of 530. Aged 1 year. (Bottled on August 2010).

Appeared a deep mahogany with a big, rocky, off-white head that lasts until the end. Very nice lacing.

Aroma: Nice fruit notes (apple, cranberry, plum) all sit along side a big, yeasty, caramel malt body.

Taste: Nice caramel malt is lined with bright notes of apple, cranberry, and plum, just like I noticed on the aroma. The finish brings to mind wheat bread with a touch of honey. It finishes dry with a bubbly mouthfeel.

Delicate, yet flavorful. I really enjoyed this one. I have yet to be disappointed with Element Brewing.

 593 characters

Photo of smcolw
4.25/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

"Bottled on 8/2/2011 436 of 754"

Plain brown bottle with white wrapping paper around it. Cork topped. Impressive thick, tight-bubbled head (three fingers thick) that recedes very slowly leaving plenty of chunky lace on the glass. The liquid is cloudy, but has a wonderful dark gold color and a touch of orange. One of the best looking Marzens I've ever seen.

Rich, fresh crystal malt aroma, like a true Marzen from Munich. Mild hop.

Far more hoppy than most, this is a peppery Oktoberfest beer (leaning toward my preference). The initial sip is malty with a dash of spritzy carbonation. Otherwise, this is rich for the style. The swallow would be closer to a pale ale and the aftertaste is nearer to an IPA, because the hop grows stronger.

Overall, this is an excellent beer even if it strays from the style slightly.

 822 characters

Photo of Hopilator
4.2/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Popped a 750 ml of this beer, number 598 of 754, bottled on 8/2/11. Bright amber color, malty aroma, nice moderate head. Balanced malt flavor, toffee, caramel chewiness. Very limited hop aroma, appropriate bitterness. Light carbonation, little lacing. I can really appreciate this hybrid concoction, on a cool mid-October evening. Well done.

 341 characters

Photo of DrJay
3.95/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Corked and caged 750, #140 of 530. Wrapped in paper with tag indicating bottling date of 8/18/2010.
Mostly clear, deep coppery reddish colour with a yellow/beige cap. Tons of clumpy lacing, decent head retention. Malty aroma, toasted and bready, light fruitiness, bit of apple and light grassiness. Medium bitterness, more toasted malt and grassy hops, light caramel, apples. Bitterness really took over in the finish, giving it a sharp edge. Quite dry, lots of airy carbonation, medium to light bodied, a bit of spicy alcohol and warmth. Overall I liked it. There are some slightly odd flavour combinations, but everything held together nicely.

 645 characters

Photo of jlindros
4.12/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a light fizzy head over an auburn orange brown color.

Nose of sweet malts, toasty, brown malts, light hops, spicy hops and light grassy, light sweet syrupy nose.

Semi sweet taste, nice alt beer flavors, some spicy earthy hops, fairly bitter, light syrupy sweet flavors, a little gritty.

Mouth is medium bodied with light carbonation.

Overall decent, nothing special but a decent drinking Alt beer.

 407 characters

Photo of connecticutpoet
4.72/5  rDev +14.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Bottle number 59 of 530. Corked, caged, and had a hell of a time getting the frigging thing open. It took me at least three or four minutes. Tightest cork I've ever had.

Poured into an imperial pint glass. Body is a deep reddish amber, almost full red. Quite hazy as well. They warn you about pouring gently, but I like the yeast stirred up. One finger head that lasted a little while, but now has mostly died.

Aroma starts with nice grassy hops, clean and slightly sweet. There's a little bit of light fruits in there, with toasted malt underneath. This is a complex and layered profile.

Taste is very interesting. Hoppy at first, with some sweetness that tends toward brown sugar. The middle is like well done toast, with a touch of tannins. Finally it faded into a long, lightly roasted bitterness. Quite nice. I've never included this in a beer review before, but as we all do, after several sips, the carbonation must be "released". When I did so, I got a blast of pure floral hops with a lot of sweetness. All I can say is wow. I didn't see that coming.

Mouthfeel is better than any I've had in a märzen before. It was full, rich, and a little chewy, and the hops gave it a nice dryness and a little astringency. Carbonation was very good, well carbonated but restrained.

Drinkability is wonderful. I've been away from beer for a month or so, after having started Weight Watchers, and after figuring out how I can fit it into my plan the first one I had was a bit of a letdown. This one has totally blown me away.

I recently had all three of Element's regular beers at a fest at Julio's, and loved them all. This limited edition beer is top of the line as well.

 1,675 characters

Photo of DIM
4.15/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to the Sweidlers for bringing this back for me. Number deucedeucedeuce, sweet.

a: This was a clear, ruby tinted chestnut brown. it poured with a thick, sticky, long lasting head.

s: Leafy hops aromas are surprisingly strong. I also found sweet bread and, more faintly, grape juice and apples. Clean overall with absolutely no trace of the 8.3% abv (according to their website). Very enticing.

t: Starts off lightly sweet with bready malts, a little toffee, and hints of grape juice. A leafy hop tingle asserts itself towards the middle becoming pretty potent by the finish. They did a great job of completely masking the alcohol.

m: Rich, creamy carbonation and a lighter body that fits the style, but belies the higher abv.

d: Probably the hoppiest fest I've tried. I really enjoyed this guys, thank you very much.

 827 characters

Photo of steve8robin
4.2/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Found this bottle at a local beer store. I like this local brewery a lot. Probably one of my fave local breweries. Let's give their new brew a go. 750ml, Bottles on 08/18/10, bottle 122 of 530...

A: A nice super deep amber / brown color with a humongous 2 inch tan head that fades at a slow pace. Very good.

S: Smells like a good blend of hops and autumn malts. I get some cinnamon and some sweet caramel. A nice blend of scents here. I almost get like a nice oaky barrel scent too. Very good.

T: A very interesting blend of flavors here. I get some hoppy sharp taste upfront with some wheat and malty sugars on the backend. Very earthy and pure tasting, and also has a great taste of autumn. I like this one. I kind of get an apple flavor in there too. Good.

M: Medium body with a great carbonation feel. Very good.

D: Once you get past the interesting blend of flavors, this goes down good.

All in all, I love this brewery. They seem to brew their beers with uniqueness in mind. They take styles that others mold around a similar technique and add unique flavors to make the style their own. I'd say, try Element once with their most notable brew being Dark Matter or soon to be called Dark Element.

 1,207 characters

Photo of ppoitras
4.45/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

750ml bottle purchased at Yankee Spirits, Sturbridge, MA. Cool informative paper wrap, corked and caged. Hangtag (with autographs) notes bottled on date of 8/18/10, and bottle #48/530.

Poured into an imperial pint glass, formed a 1/4" tan head over the slightly cloudy reddish copper brew. Head lasts pretty well, with sticky lacing. Aroma is malty sweet.

Taste begins with rich grain husks flavor, light fruitiness in the middle, and a rounded bitterness to close. Light warmth lingers after the swallow. Mouthfeel is soft and smooth, with excellent drinkability. For me, this is autumn in a bottle, great stuff.

 616 characters

Photo of rudzud
3.65/5  rDev -11.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I had heard that Element Brewing was going to be releasing rather limited seasonal brews. I didnt realize just how limited, only 530 bottles brewed.

Each bottle comes wrapped in all that paper and an orange tag which reads "Element Altoberfest blends the assertive hop character of a classic ALT with the smooth malty qualities of an Octoberfest" as well as a bottled on date (8/18/10), hand numbered (mine was 250/530), and hand signed by owners Ben Anhalt, Tom Fields, and Dan Kramer. On the top of the tag is the most excellent phrase "Interval Ales are like virtual particles. They exist for a limited time and space". Anyways, enough with the backstory and on with the review.

A - Pour was a typical dark crystal clear copper with a fizzy two finger head that rapidly faded away to a light lacing along the rim, only to quickly disappear to nothing at all. There are quite a bit of carbonation bubbles throughout the body.

S - Roasty, sweet malts. Not picking up much in the way of typical hop aroma, which is fairly dissapointing.

T - More of the nose, a nice roasty toasty malt flavor washes over the tongue from the get go. On the back though...whats that?? Its the telltale bitterness from hops! Really nice finish to the malt start is this great assertive hop character.

M - Shokingly low carbonation considering the amount of bubbles in the glass. I know this is supposed to be smooth, and it is, but its really too smooth.

D - Its drinkable and nice, sure, but I would pass on this again. The taste is really the only aspect of this merger that has come through successfully. Failed on the nose and was confusing in the mouth. As someone who has been drinking and enjoying Element's offerings since they first began to bottle them I feel this one just isnt as good as the three mainstays, especially at the price I paid ($16.99/bottle). A nice experiment, but not a repeat venture for me.

 1,919 characters

Altoberfest from Element Brewing Company
4.13 out of 5 based on 51 ratings.
  • About Us

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • BeerAdvocate Microbrew Invitational

    Join us June 2-3, 2017 in Boston, Mass. for beer, cider, mead, kombucha and sake from over 70 small producers.

    Learn More
  • Subscribe to BeerAdvocate Magazine

    Support uncompromising beer advocacy and award-winning, independent journalism with a print subscription to BeerAdvocate magazine.