Great Lakes Brewing Co.

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Great Lakes Brewing Co.
Ohio, United States
Lager - Märzen
Ranked #4
Ranked #8,306
4.05 | pDev: 11.85%
May 06, 2022
Nov 04, 2003
Notes: Prost! Our take on this classic German style is a celebration of maltiness— packed with rustic, autumnal flavors to put a little more oomph into your oom-pah-pah.

Über smooth with vibrant malt flavors and a festive flourish of noble hops (lederhosen not included).

World Beer Championships
4-Time Medal Winner (Gold, Silver)
Recent ratings and reviews. | Log in to view more ratings + sorting options.
Photo of hoptheology
4.12/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25
by hoptheology from South Dakota

12 oz bottle, best by 11/17/21.
Samuel Adams Ugly Sweater Run Pint Glass.

Burnt sienna/orange color with a half finger of head that runs out the back door with its hair on fire. No head left after 10 seconds.

Aroma of moldy grain and wet leaves, with hints of caramel, pumpkin, and faint citrus.

This beer is pretty full-flavored. Hoppy but not too hoppy, malty but not too malty. It opens with smoked caramel notes and hints of pumpernickel bread. Halfway through, the hop bite comes in and brings a robust medicinal bitterness a la Ricola but it's not gross and fits in nicely. It finishes on orange peel, smoked apricot, and spicy notes. The 6.5% is already hitting me.

Feel is crisp, moderately oily, semi-smooth, and brings a wave of alcohol heat on the back end.

Overall, this could be marketed as an imperial Oktoberfest, as it's quite the pumper. This is a very tasty beer and an excellent example of the style. I would absolutely buy this again if I were in the mood for an Oktoberfest. This would go really good with spicy mustard and doughy pretzels. Wow.

$1.66 / Binny's

Dec 04, 2021
4.25 by freewill35 from Indiana on Nov 30, 2021
4.38 by beerrat from Virginia on Nov 29, 2021
Photo of DaveMaciolek21
3.11/5  rDev -23.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25
by DaveMaciolek21 from New Jersey

Frankly surprised by this beer being listed as Outstanding. It's a marginal marzen. It looks the part--amber, off-white foamy head. But the flavors, though malt forward, are weak and lacking in substance. There is a bit of Noble hop bounce that emerges late, but still a bland experience.

Nov 11, 2021
4 by Budlum from Maryland on Oct 22, 2021
Photo of defunksta
4.23/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5
by defunksta from North Dakota

2021 Review:
Appearance: Pours a beautiful, deep, but bright amber color with a small off white head. SRM of 13. (4.25)

Aroma: Moderate aromas of bread, grass, and earthy Munich malt with some flower and possibly caramel and bread spice. Hints of cherry and citrus hops too. (4.00)

Flavor: Bready and rich. A definite nice hint of earthy German flower and farm. Finishes very bready and with rich caramel. There is a rye, cherry and red apple hop flavor here too. Tastes like rich baking bread on a German farm on a rainy day. (4.25)

Feel: Medium-bodied. Well carbonated. Extremely balanced, and finishes clean and slightly sweet on the palate. (4.25)

Compared to Surly Oktoberfest: It's pours a darker amber with an off-white head. More bready and caramel malt flavors. Less spice and rye. Finishes smoother and sweeter. Less bitter.

Compared to Central Waters' Oktoberfest 9/5/20: Pours a lighter color with a lighter head. More dry bread and grass. Less dark bread, caramel, vanilla. Less sweet overall. Leans much more traditional festbier than American Marzen.

Compared to Founders Oktoberfest 9/20/20: Pours a similar color. Similar mild aromas. More red apple, cherry, and spiciness/tartness on the flavor. Less bready. More roasty, Americanizized and less roasty. More traditional.
10/31/20: Pours an identical color. More flower, citrus, cherry on the aroma/flavor. Less smooth caramel and honey. More red fruit and bitterness. Also more toasty. Nearly identical. (see below for 2021 comparison)

Compared to Odell's Oktoberfest 9/22/20: Pours a slightly lighter color. More bready aromas. Less spiced caramel and cherry liquor. Smoother, less spice and bite. Winner: Great Lakes.

Compared to Breckenridge Oktoberfest 9/27/20: Pours a slightly lighter color, but with a stronger head. More caramel, cherry, and alcohol aromas. Less grass, honey, and citrus. Sweeter, and more full overall.

Compared to Left Hand Oktoberfest 11/25/20: Pours a slightly lighter color with a similar head. More earthy honey and fruity. Less

Compared to Bells Oktoberfest 9/24/21: Pours a darker color. More cloying cherry hops and rich caramel. Less toasty and balanced.

Compared to Founders Oktoberfest 10/8/21: Pours a slightly lighter color. More citrus and spice. Less sweet caramel malts and phenolic flavors. A more balanced Oktoberfest overall. Winner: Great Lakes

Compared to Sam Adams Oktoberfest 12/30/21: Pours a lighter color. Hoppier aromas. More German noble hops and bread notes. Less rich caramel, cherry, and spice. More hoppy, bready, and Oktoberfest-like.

Overall: A very balanced, full, and American Marzen style. Nice flavors with some hints of flower and cherry spice. Ultimately thought the caramel and slight chocolate malt shine as the beer warms. Exactly what I'm looking for in an Oktoberfest Marzen. Not overpowering but captures the right flavors. It's still slightly heavier bodied and stronger than a traditional festbier, but one of the best American versions of the style. This one is good, and It's bread spice in a glass. Strong, yet balanced and appropriate. Fantastic stuff here. (Final Rating: 4.23)
*Compare to any strong, yet balanced Marzen*

Oct 09, 2021
4.12 by Scott17Taylor from Iowa on Oct 07, 2021
Photo of trevorpost
2.26/5  rDev -44.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 1.75 | feel: 2.25 | overall: 2.25
by trevorpost from Pennsylvania

No idea what the deal was. Served on draft, looked okay but smelled and tasted like an underattenuated mess. I hope it was just a bad keg but I don't have any reason to believe the keg was off. Disappointing.

Oct 06, 2021
4.69 by DrBass from Maryland on Oct 04, 2021
Photo of BubbleBobble
3.21/5  rDev -20.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.25
by BubbleBobble from New York

Pours a clear amber from the bottle, brief head, no retention. Nose is brown bread, light baking spice, sweet malts - classic profile. Taste is spicy, some alcohol, not much in the way of malts, and a bit dry on the finish. Very little carb and a rather hot finish. Overall, was a bit of a let down given the praise it has received.

Oct 03, 2021
Photo of klarcbarr3
4.21/5  rDev +4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25
by klarcbarr3 from Michigan

Poured into a pint glass, a light, loosely carbonated two finger head forms, but begins to subside immediately. The color of this beer is beautiful.. it's golden amber inherently looks like autumn leaves.. apropo for an Oktoberfest beer! The nose is restrained, but good.. sweet grains with mild hops and malt notes. Adequate lacing does survive for 20 minutes. The taste of this Great Lakes brew, to me, is the styiistic definition of Octoberfest -Maarzen style. I have tried many other Octoberfests, first with Sam Adams, 30 years ago. This one gets everything right.. It is sweet, hops-malt balanced, with an earthy grain taste and fine mouth feel. More importantly, it does not bear the excesses of so many competitors.. no excessive hops skunkiness, no dryness, no lingering dirt aftertaste! It is a beautifully crafted, fully realized example of what an Octoberfest-Marzen should be! I'm sure I will continue to try other Octoberfests, but I expect to keep coming back to my fave by Great Lakes, every year!

Oct 02, 2021
3.72 by CisPiece88 from Nebraska on Oct 02, 2021
3.69 by bigpoppa67 from Wisconsin on Oct 01, 2021
Photo of daliandragon
3.93/5  rDev -3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4
by daliandragon from Maryland

Dark in color and aroma, with a dark amber hue and no head and consistent toasted caramel note in the nose. The flavor is clean and malty with a toasty bread note and a bit of funky yeast late in the finish that gives some earthy and grassy complexity to this otherwise standard interpretation. A little late hopping and a crisp, medium finish improve the final product as well.

Sep 26, 2021
Photo of Billet
4.85/5  rDev +19.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75
by Billet from Michigan

Outstanding Oktoberfest bier! It is a Marzen style with a dark amber color. Pours with a light head. It has a slightly roasted malt flavor which distinguishes it from other Oktoberfest beers. Perfectly balanced. Very easy drinking, as it should be!

Sep 25, 2021
Photo of Beer_Economicus
3.95/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25
by Beer_Economicus from Ohio

Disclaimer: I am using Oktoberfest to refer to any of the many styles brewed for Oktoberfest. I understand that Oktoberfest is not a style in and of itself.

Let me start this by start this by saying that, despite enjoying many Bavarian beers (and if I’m not a glutton for Bavarian food, I don’t know who is), I’m not sure that Oktoberfest-style beers have ever been my thing. I can drink dunkels for hours. -But give me 3 Oktoberfests instead? And I’ll probably drink no more than 2, and likely one 1. It’s not that I dislike them (as a group), just sometimes the Marzen’s are too pale, and in general they don’t seem to tickle me the way that something like a Dunkel would. That said, combine them with certain food styles, and they dramatically improve the drinking experience (for me, anyway).

Tonight is a new beer to me.

Great Lakes - Oktoberfest

6.5 %ABV, 20 IBUs

The beer is listed as a “Marzen style lager” on the can and on BA.

No canned on Date, but the can lists 10/25/2021, which I assume is a BBD, which I assume is a 90-day from Canned date, not a 45-day date, making this canned on 7/25/2021, putting this just shy of 2 months from canning. Picked up at a Kroger as part of a mix-6 pack of just Oktoberfests for this tasting. (Unfortunately I drank 4 before the tasting ever started, so…)

The beer was removed from a 45ish degree temp fridge after having been refrigerated for approximately 2 weeks. Beer poured into a classic Haufbrauhaus dimpled mug.

First Impression: Beer pours light in color – much closer to the straw-like yellows of a Pilsner than the golden-amber I normally expect from other Oktoberfests. No immediate aromatics.

Appearance: Pretty enough, but nothing special, although a little surprised at its’ light color. An appropriate amount of head for the style when first poured, which dissipated to nothing (with no lacing) almost immediately. Not swearing I am rating appearance correctly here, as appearance always feels quite subjective. 3.5

Smell: This beer is not extremely aromatic. My first test for any Oktoberfest beer is does it give me that quintisential “beer smell” and “beer taste”. What do I mean? It tastes like bier, bruh. I know this isn’t descriptive, but in my mind this is always what I think beer tastes and smells like. I’m tried to smell and describe this for 5-7 minutes now, and nothing is coming to me. It’s just non-descript except as “bier”. Think I say this every year. 4.0

Taste: A distinctively ‘bier’ taste that is not a pale as I might have expected for being called a marzen. Interestingly, this doesn’t strike me as being true to style, although I am no expert. I get some hints of banana and clove that I typically only find in dubbels, tripels, and quads. Maybe even a little bit of bubbelgum. It’s not on the front end, but the back, but also not much really left in the aftertaste. It’s right at the moment you swallow. (That’s what she said.) 3.75

Mouthfeel: Nothing unique or special. It feels (get it) true to style. If anything, it’s almost slightly too viscous for a marzen, as it is encroaching on dubbel territory. 4.25

Overall: This is fine. I’m not sure I like it that much, but I do appreciate that it’s a good beer. I also understand, truly, why so many people like it, and why there are so many fans here on BA. That said, again, I don’t think it’s really right for me. I won’t be buying a 6-pack or multiples each year, but I very well may buy a single most years. 4.25

BA Review Score: 3.95
In retrospect, I think a score of 3.95 is pretty fair. I think it’s close to or right around a solid B. I’d be hard pressed to give it any higher than a B unless I am comparing it to other beers. Of the 5 total Oktoberfests I have had this year so far, this isn’t the worst, but it’s also not my favorite. I’d probably say it’s right in the middle. This beer did make me go fry up a Knockwurst and a Bier bratwurst, though. Spicy bratwurst mustard ready.

Sep 19, 2021
4.28 by jdezelick from Virginia on Sep 19, 2021
Photo of brewerburgundy
4.12/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25
by brewerburgundy from Virginia

12oz bottle, wine glass, enjoy by 11/16/21.

Shining copper beer with pink highlights that musters nearly a finger of fizzy head.

Lightly sweet toasted bread characterizes the malty aroma. It’s of high quality and low intensity.

Toasty moving towards biscuity. Exceptionally clean and rich, yet crisp. Light sweetness and just a hint of hop spice and nuttiness in a dry finish that also features a slight warmth, though no obvious alcohol.

Medium body, medium crisp carbonation, and a slight drying finish despite the malt focus.

Sep 12, 2021
Photo of JohnnyHopps
4.28/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25
by JohnnyHopps from Indiana

Appearance - The beer poured a copper color with a foamy white head.

Smell - Sweet, yet dry bready malts radiated from the nose.

Taste - Foamy, sweet bready malts came to the front. The profile was creamy, but light. There was a little bit of grass just before the finish, which was slightly bitter. The dry parts stuck to the roof of the mouth while the sweetness danced on the back of the tongue.

Mouthfeel - The feel was smooth with little bubbles of carbonation.

Overall - This is a great example of the style.

Sep 11, 2021
Photo of Mjtucci
3.68/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75
by Mjtucci from Oklahoma

Crisp, malty. Balanced

Sep 05, 2021
Photo of MonDak_Joe1953
4.06/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4
by MonDak_Joe1953 from Minnesota

12oz bottle. Label has best by date as '11/21/21'. Label description is "Prost! Our take on this classic German style is a real malt party, packed with toasty autumnal flavors perfect for hearty hoisting."
Clear, pale amber colored body. One finger of white head, which sticks around as a partial cap. Very light lacing.
Aroma is sweet toasted malt, with characteristics of bread. Spice and light berries.
Taste is really led by the toasted malts, which add bread and slight sweetness to the flavor. Herbal hops with a touch of spice. Slightly bitter at the end but this only adds to the enjoyment.
Medium plus mouth feel. Leaves a bit of spice about the mouth. Very good carbonation.
Well balanced, with appropriate nuanced flavors. Clean all around and a good choice for session fest work.

Sep 05, 2021
Photo of Davidstan
4.37/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25
by Davidstan from Alabama

This one is scary. 6.5 ABV and not a hint of alcohol. Well hidden. Malts and slight hops are meshed well. An extremely well crafted marzen!

Sep 04, 2021
4.08 by SpdKilz from Illinois on Aug 30, 2021
Photo of MrGraybeard
4.29/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25
by MrGraybeard from Wisconsin

Characteristics closely follow those of a mainstream Bavarian oktoberfest. Pours a clear amber with a fairly loose head that eventually diminishes to a ring on the beer's surface. Minimal lace. Aroma is of bread and herbs. Taste is drier than other US oktobersts I've sampled, possibly because of the elevated alcohol content. Not as floral as my favorite Bavarian, Hacker-Pschorr.

Feel is medium-bodied, true to the style. Finish leaves a hint of bitterness.

Aug 28, 2021
Photo of Seinfeldfan
4.55/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75
by Seinfeldfan from Ohio

Marzens are one of my favorites so I sample many different ones throughout the fall, and the GLBC Octoberfest remains one of my favorites along with Hacker Pschorr and Mecklenburg ( when I can get it while traveling to Charlotte. ) . This beer checks all the marzen boxes for me. A beautiful orangeish color with nice fluffy head. The smell and taste go together as expected ,; malty, bready, with a little hops. This is a very easy drinking beer, as the mouthfeel is just right, not too thin. Marzens go great with a lot of different food, Had this while eating brats by a campfire. My friends wanted to try the beer for the first time. so I was coerced into sharing, . They unanimously enjoyed it.

Aug 25, 2021
Photo of JoeyBagadonuts
3.96/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4
by JoeyBagadonuts from Virginia

This is probably the best American made Oktoberfest sold. At 6.5% AVB, it's malty smooth with a light peppery finish.

Aug 20, 2021
Photo of lgkayak13
2.33/5  rDev -42.5%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5
by lgkayak13

Have had this beer multiple years in an annual marzen style beers sampler here in Wisconsin. Always comes out in bottom 10. Rather skunky smell and taste. Would not recommend.

Aug 16, 2021
Photo of teromous
2.67/5  rDev -34.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5
by teromous from Virginia

The label has an indicator on the right side that states: "For freshest taste, please enjoy by: 11/17/21 289903M"

Appearance: The body of the beer is a firey gold color with very good clarity. It has a creamy textured medium-small white head that has good retention.

Aroma: There isn't much of an aroma; it has a very faint cereal grain scent but nothing else comes through.

Taste: It's pretty light on flavor. There is a faint cereal grain flavor that takes a lot of coaxing to come through. The aftertaste has a light bit of a corn flavor.

Mouthfeel: It is on the upper edge of light-bodied with a slight creaminess to the mouthfeel. Faint bitterness in the aftertaste.

Overall: As a whole the beer lacked a lot of character in both the flavor and aroma. It isn't a beer I'd likely buy again and it's not one I'd recommend. If you do want to try it, I would recommend a taster or a single bottle before committing to a full pour or a 6-pack.

Aug 14, 2021
4.9 by BrendanStoehr96 from Wisconsin on Jul 02, 2021
4.03 by needMIbeer from Virginia on Apr 19, 2021
Photo of MoMaMe
4.57/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5
by MoMaMe from Maryland

My favorite Oktoberfest to date. Extremely well balanced and pleasant all around. Malts are forward without being sweet or overbearing.
Very easy drinking.

Oct 28, 2020
4.74 by BruceColeman from Illinois on Oct 28, 2020
3.75 by teamwiggum from Wisconsin on Oct 26, 2020
3.92 by Jcarriglio from Florida on Oct 18, 2020
Photo of Chocolatefreak
2.33/5  rDev -42.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 1 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3
by Chocolatefreak from Tennessee

The worst Octoberfest beer so far. It tasted sour to me and I hate sour brews. This is not a typical October fest beer. Nasty taste!

Oct 17, 2020
Oktoberfest from Great Lakes Brewing Co.
Beer rating: 90 out of 100 with 2499 ratings