I'm a few months late with this post, but I've only just drunk the beers; so consider it useful information for next year. Oktoberfest beers are becoming more and more prevalent outside of Germany, both exported and domestically brewed varieties. Thornbridge have recently released one which I'm yet to try.
One I have been able to try however is Ireland's 8-Degrees Ochtoberfest. Brewed on August 8th (8/8) at 8 degrees West of Greenwich.
For comparative purposes I picked up some German festbiers, namely Spaten Oktoberfestbier, Erdinger Festweiße, Weißenoher Altfränkisch Klosterbier and Hacker-Pschorr Oktoberfest-Marzen. The first thing to note is that there is a wide range of colours, although the ABV of all of the beers is similar. The Erdinger isin keeping with the rest of that brewery's output and a weisse bier.
Up first, the Klosterbier. It looks appealing with a traffic-light amber with fluffy snow-white head. Its flinty, dry, fruity and toffee on the nose, so far so good. Unfortunately its too highly carbonated and harsh in the mouth, dry, bland and astringent with no finish. I had to ditch it after a few gulps. Not a very promising start.
The Erdinger didn't really raise the standard. Normally I'm fairly impressed by Erdinger beers despite being mass-produced they still have a fair amount of flavour. Not on this occasion though,i n fact the mouth feel was about the only thing going for it, with none of the traditional weizen esters in attendance I may as well have been drinking barley water.
Spaten was a bit of a surprise, pouring the palest of golds, not so much marzen as kolsch-style. There are some pleasant lemon and banana notes but again a harshly astringent finish with a touch of aspartame-like sweetness. Perhaps the use of hop syrup had something to do with it?!
Hacker-Pschorr is a beer I enjoyed on draught at National Winter Ales Fest this year. I say enjoyed, I meant I tolerated it. I say tolerated I meant I fobbed it off onto Daisy. In bottle it seems to have held up a little better. It has some of that alleged doughiness that I've hitherto failed to find and a pleasing mouth feel. The first beer I didn't feel needed chucking.
Finally; the Ochtoberfest from Eight Degrees reprised its debut at the Dublin beerfest in bottle form. Immediately the contrast was stark. There's an aroma this times-light cloves on nose with orange & licorice. Medium carbonation, doughy, marmalade, a bit thin bodied, booze, sweet, noble hop finish. Its the best of the bunch, but would I go out of my way to try it again? Probably not. As to whether it successfully mimics a German Oktoberfest beer I can't really say, but going by the evidence of the preceding beers maybe not.
On this evidence I'm beginning to think that the style is perhaps not for me and it joins the ranks of bocks, dubbels and Irish Ales as "ones to avoid" in my book.