Craft lagers have steadily claimed their space on the American beer landscape, and Firestone Walker’s 2022 Oaktoberfest adds a distinctive Paso Robles flair to the festbier style. Brewmaster Matt Brynildson’s take involves a traditional recipe, but the unique twist is the lagering process in French oak barrels, promising an extra smooth mouthfeel with a subtle oak character.


The beer pours with a captivating orange hue, underscored by a reddish undertone. A persistently fluffy off-white head graces the dimpled mug, lingering throughout the entire drinking session.


The olfactory journey unveils notes of toasted whole wheat bread intertwined with subtle floral hops. Surprisingly clean, the aroma doesn’t strongly reflect the purported oak aging. It leans towards the less malty richness found in some European counterparts.


Embarking on the flavor expedition, the beer offers melanoidin toastiness, complemented by hints of caramel and licorice. The hop presence becomes more pronounced, resembling black tea and sage. The integration of hop flavor with the oak barrel creates a unique and singular experience. Notably, the firm bitterness surpasses expectations for the style, while a moderate carbonation level ensures a refreshed palate.


In terms of mouthfeel, Oaktoberfest lives up to its promise of a quaffable lager. The American twist reveals itself through extra hop bitterness and the distinctive oak aging, contributing a certain bite that resonates with the preferences of the craft beer consumer.


Designed for larger quantities, as is customary with festbiers, Oaktoberfest succeeds in delivering a beer suitable for both cold enjoyment and savoring the last few warm sips. The fusion of traditional elements with American nuances, such as heightened hop bitterness and oak aging, enhances the overall appeal. As Festbier season approaches, this 6-pack warrants attention for those seeking a memorable and slightly unconventional brew.