Oaktober | Karben4 Brewing

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Brewed by:
Karben4 Brewing
Wisconsin, United States

Style: Märzen / Oktoberfest

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 5.70%

Availability: Fall

Notes / Commercial Description:
This ale, fermented at near-lager temperatures, is an attempt to capture that magic in a glass. Soft toffee notes are wrapped up in a blanket of flavors of fresh baked bread. The whole experience is accented with a pleasant and subtle woodsy experience provided by a whiskey-soaked blend of French and American oak.

Added by Ri0 on 09-24-2013

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Reviews: 6 | Ratings: 37
Photo of marticusrex
2.73/5  rDev -34.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Had this beer the first year Karben4 brewed it and I was stunned. Went back to try it again this year (which I believe is the 3rd time (?) its been brewed) and I was not impressed. Not sure if my tastes have changed, or if Karben4 has lost some of their quality control while increasing their output.

The pour looks beautiful, nice and clear and a nice orange hue. Aroma is nice as well, woody, roasty malt. Taste is where this all goes downhill. I know they brew this as an ale instead of a lager and I'm not sure that's working well for this beer anymore. Has a slightly sour, acrid like taste. Just way too harsh instead of a smooth drinking Marzen. Hops are present, in fact way too present, it overwhelms what "oakiness" is there. I think I'll stop here.

I'll always love their mainstay "Fantasy Factory", but I was very disappointed with this beer. I think they should brew it as a lager going forward. Wanted my money back.

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Photo of brentk56
4.09/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Appearance: Arrives looking very much like a glass of whiskey in a snifter once the modest head fades and the few streaks of lacing disappear

Smell: Toffee and woody tones

Taste: Toffee and woody tones lead, with earthy elements adding some complexity; a hint of the whiskey appears in the finish along with the grainy tones and a bit of lager twang

Mouthfeel: Medium to full body with moderate carbonation

Overall: Extra points for creativity here as this is a malty, woody treat; certainly not your father's Oktoberfest

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Photo of Stevedore
4.05/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

On tap at Karben4's taproom. Full pint poured into a Karben4 snifter 9/14/2014.

A- Dark orange-brown body, as expected of an Oktoberfest style beer. Half finger white head with short retention time, not a lot of lacing to speak of. [3.75]

S- Whoa. Whiskey, oak dominates on the nose. There isn't a lot of underlying malt sweetness to be had in the nose- very oak-forward with whiskey. It's like smelling a shot of Scotch. Not bad, but it's not what I expected. [3.75]

F- This is quite good. The toasted amber malt sweetness comes forward quite well and plays well with the oak, vanilla and the whiskey. There is a nice overall breadiness that makes the whiskey flavours seem unreal, like they don't belong in this beer. At the same time, it's really quite different. [4.25]

M- Medium bodied, very dry with a strong whiskey finish. Reminds me a good bit of sipping on a single malt scotch. Surprisingly for a 5.7% ABV beer, this is damn whiskey-forward, but in a good way- all the flavours of whiskey but without the ABV. Very nice. [4.25]

O- Very interesting beer, never had anything like it before. If you like your scotch with a bit of carbonation, this could very well be the beer for you. [4]

Final score: 4.075

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Photo of lunarbrew
3.88/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

As one might expect, enjoyed this on premise. Beer poured clear (dark) amber. Fine to no lacing. Not much head.

It smells malty and rich. Although the oak is not prominent, it adds some complexity to the beer. There is definitely some vanilla and caramel/toffee in the nose. I notice a muted noble hop presence. The hop character is a little weak and hard to define.

This is a sweet beer with a decent amount of complexity for an oktoberfest. However, I feel like the oak, instead of complementing and homogenizing, is simply layering onto beer's profile. Additionally, the layers of complexity are all overly-mellowed by the oak. Nothing is jumping out of my glass here--maybe that's the point? Flavor-wise, I get some caramel/toffee, vanilla, maltose, faint red-berry, soft oak, and mild hop flavor. Little to no bitterness. No whiskey flavor or smell, so I'm pretty sure this is just oak-aged (unlike Ri0 mentioned below). EDIT: Ri0 pointed out that the beer was fermented with bourbon soaked oak chips suspended in the tank with climbing gear. Interesting approach, but unfortunately it didn't seem to come through much in the final product.

Mouthfeel is pretty good. Silky smooth and medium carbonation.

I feel like this beer is getting a little local hype. I appreciate the unique approach to the oktoberfest and I think there is a pretty solid execution here, but I wasn't wowed by anything in the beer. It drank pretty average to me. I'm a huge fan of oaked beers, so I would like to see the oak character more prominent. I understand that's likely not what K4 was trying to do, though, so no points deducted in this respect.

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Photo of Fcolle2
4.54/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours dark amber with some deep mahogany tones and a 1 finger off white foamy head that has really good retention.

Smell has a great oak presence upfront along with some really nice fruity esters, mainly pear and apple. This fade into a deep sweet and smokey caramel malt. Really complex for an Octoberfest.

Taste has some more pear and fruity esters upfront that fade into a very light caramel sweetness and doughy grain. Smoke is more mild then the nose And awesome oak flavors come in at the finish and bring everything together.

Mouthfeel has moderately high carbonation with a light crisp feel and a dry finish. Everything you would expect with an Octoberfest.

Overall this has been the best Octoberfest I have had yet. I never understood why I kept trying this style when it had yet to woo me but I have found the answer. All is right with the world.

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Photo of Ri0
4.2/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

on tap into a snifter at the brewery.

A - Light hazelnut brown with highlights of amber and a thin tan head. Some lacing.

S - A very pleasant aroma. There is a subtle sweetness of caramel, toffee, toasted malts. There are hints of wood and brown sugar.

T - A wonderful blend of toasted malt and sweetness. Caramel, toffee, and some dark brown sugar with a bit of wood. Brown bread and maybe some molasses and candied sugar. I can't tell you just how tasty this is. It is unlike any Oktoberfest I have ever had. The suspended oak wood soaked in whiskey inside the tank gave it a very unique flavor.

M - Smooth, rich, and medium bodied. It was velvety and had a slight creamy feel.

O - I was really surprised by this beer. It was such a different take on a classic style. I can't stop thinking about how much I enjoyed it. Hopefully it will be brewed every year. Excellent work by the guys at K4!

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Oaktober from Karben4 Brewing
4.16 out of 5 based on 37 ratings.
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