The 2018 rendition of Sierra Nevada’s Oktoberfest, a collaboration with Bavaria’s Weihenstephan, opens with a crystal clear amber hue when poured from a 12oz bottle. The lively carbonation produces a robust, sea foam-textured head, creating an enticing visual spectacle.


The initial olfactory experience is relatively subdued, reminiscent of apple pie with notes of cinnamon and buttery crust. This aromatic profile sets the stage for what lies ahead.


Malty flavors dominate the palate, constituting about 95% of the overall taste experience. The beer’s richness in mouthfeel is notable, offering a silky smooth texture reminiscent of freshly baked honey rolls. A delightful interplay of cinnamon, sugar, and red apple adds complexity, while mild tea and a hint of tannic apple skin contribute to an intriguing balance. The bitterness is subtle, rated at 1 out of 10, while sweetness is moderate at 5/10, a departure from the more familiar Sierra Nevada Pale Ale profile. The finish, however, takes a slight dip, with an unexpectedly oily and fatty texture, accompanied by a touch of paper, leaving room for improvement.


The mouthfeel of Sierra Nevada’s Oktoberfest is a highlight, with a silky smooth texture that glides effortlessly across the palate. The beer’s oily and fatty finish, while slightly less stellar, does not leave any lingering residual sugar. Instead, it concludes with a pleasant sourdough bread flavor after several minutes.


In its entirety, this year’s Oktoberfest from Sierra Nevada is a straightforward exploration of amber lager’s quenching ability. The mid-tier alcohol strength, low bitterness, and moderate sugar content align well with the characteristics of a classic festbier. While not an absolute showstopper, this collaboration between Sierra Nevada and Weihenstephan achieves a commendable balance. In comparison to other German examples, especially Ayinger’s version, Sierra Nevada’s offering stands out with a superior malt backbone and a more refined profile. While lacking the excitement of some previous collaborations, this Oktoberfest is a commendable representation of the style.

Critical Reflection on Beer Reviews

Today, I take a moment to reflect on the art of beer reviews and the importance of delivering constructive criticism. With over a decade of beer reviewing experience, I’ve come to appreciate the delicate balance between providing useful insights for consumers and offering valuable feedback to the businesses being reviewed.

Critical reviews serve as a form of quality control, offering candid feedback on product quality. While producers may initially resist negative feedback, it’s crucial for long-term success. A case in point is a small brewery that, thanks to a critical review, discovered distribution issues affecting their beer quality and made necessary improvements.

In the realm of craft beer, online reviews play a vital role in shaping a brewery’s reputation. Producers should view critical feedback not as sabotage but as an opportunity for improvement. Sales may soar in the short term, but sustained success requires consistent product quality and customer satisfaction.

I acknowledge my own preferences in beer styles and emphasize that my reviews are subjective opinions. Readers should consider the diverse factors influencing beer experiences, such as transportation, storage, serving conditions, and personal palate variations.

As we navigate the world of beer reviews, let’s remember that constructive criticism benefits both consumers and producers. It guides purchasing decisions and helps businesses enhance their offerings. Disagreement is natural, but mutual respect in discussions fosters a healthier beer community.