Thomas Hooker Octoberfest
One 12 oz bottle, $1.99, 5.7% ABV

Purchased at Maximum Beverage, West Hartford

I’ll admit up front: I don’t “get” the whole Octoberfest beer thing. But I do appreciate Hooker naming this “OCTober” and not “OKtober,” which I know is completely silly on my part, but I’m a silly man. So silly, in fact, that I admit I don’t fully understand the whole Octoberfest thing.

But before you laugh, I strongly suggest you read this article from the New York Times. It’s all about Octoberfest beers and is written by a guy much smarter than I am – who also admits that yes, “Oktobers” ARE indeed confusing to pin down as a style. I feel vindicated. We’ll revisit that article in a minute.

Octoberfest is a tradition event originally held in Germany that has come to celebrate getting drunk on a certain type (Marzen lager) beer. Fair enough; I can support that. The original Octoberfest beers were those that were brewed back in March (Marzen) and left to age for the intervening hot summer months. And what you get in the end is a darker lager with a more complex flavor profile. (The Times article says that the original festivals celebrated the end of the stored beer supply.)

Not exactly the most exciting style in the world. But that’s sort of the point. When you have a true Octoberfest, you need beer that can be drunk quickly and in copious amounts and won’t interfere with the rich and fatty foods on offer. If I were to have a sausage party someday, ahem, I promise to supply plenty of Octoberfest beer. For the bros.

Of course, I must question how many of our locals who produce Octobers have aged their beers for half a year? Does Hooker? It’s interesting that when I take a moment to think about our locals and their beers, I can only think of a few that produce Octoberfest brews – and Hooker might be the only one that bottles it. I could be wrong.

Not that I really care. After all, it’s just aged lager. And if I think about Octobers as the beer they serve in those giant steins or mugs which are half head and a quarter gets spilled by the beer wenches on their way to your table, it’s probably a good thing that it’s just an aged lager.

[Here's Hayden Panettiere doing the fake/cute Oktoberfest girl thing]

Hooker’s October is one of their more well-regarded offerings and it has won all sorts of medals at various brewfests and competitions. (Which leads me to believe that they must age it for a longish time, right? But then again, they are contracting with so many other brewers right now and they only have a finite amount of tank space… God, I sound like a rumor-monger creating rumors about something which totally doesn’t even matter.)

I annoy me.

Anyway, back to that Times article. If you already read the whole thing you’ve noticed that back in 2008, the paper rated Hooker’s October as the best of them all. And by “all” I mean 16 other American takes on the style plus 7 traditional German beers. That is high praise. Back when I first started visiting Hooker, with their frat house couches and endless 12 oz pours (those were the days), this was a fresh accolade and they were very proud of it.

And justifiably so. To me, it’s good beer but not even the best of the Hooker lineup. It’s a touch too sweet with caramel for me, but not overpowering. At least it’s very drinkable so I know I can pound 30 of them if I’m ever at a real sausage party.

Hooker says:

Originally brewed to celebrate the beginning of the German brewing season and the 1810 wedding of crown prince Ludwig of Bavaria and his bride-to-be, princess Therese of Saxon-Hildburghausen. This amber beer was brewed in March (“Marzenbier”) and left to age in cool lagering caves during the heat of the summer. Our rich and satisfying Bavarian-style OctoberFest comes from a special blend of imported German malts that creates a full-bodied brew and stresses a malty flavor and lingering aroma. Gently hopped and delicately balanced, its true-to-style, slow fermentation and long, cold maturation produces a luxuriously smooth, award-winning brew.

Overall Rating: B
Rating vs. Similar style: C

Beer Advocate’s Reviews of the Octoberfest
Thomas Hooker Brewing Company
Back to CTMQ’s Reviews of Hooker beers
Back to CTMQ’s Connecticut Beer Page
Back to CT Breweries page

Leave a Comment

The Out Campaign: Scarlet Letter of Atheism