Fearful Symmetries

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25 October, 2016

Oktoberfest Is the Cruelest Style: Oktoberfest by Pecatonica Beer Company



I guess my previous post won't quite be my last review of a Wisconsin Oktoberfest.

The Pecatonica Beer Company is apparently domiciled in Gratiot, Wisconsin in the southwest part of the state. The company's tied house, the Pecatonica Beer Company Tap House, however, resides south of Gratiot on Highway 78 and across the Cheddar Curtain in Warren, Illinois which is within spitting distance of the Wisconsin-Illinois border. I would have included this bier in a Wisconsin Oktoberfest round-up but I was under the impression that the company itself was headquartered in Illinois with the suds being brewed in Wisconsin. Ooops.

Pecatonica's beer is brewed in Monroevia (as my Croatian-American friend who lives there calls it) at the Minhas Craft Brewery. Minhas does not exactly enjoy a good reputation as a microbrewery yet it was #9 (#9, #9, #9) in a 2015 ranking of largest craft breweries by volume. The Wisconsin State Journal's Beer Baron confessed that he finds "a lot of the beer produced by Minhas has a Corn Pops-type flavor". I personally haven't noticed this but did find that every beer in their Lazy Mutt sampler pack tasted A) thin & watery and B) barely distinguishable from one another. I will admit that those bombers of Rhinelander stout are plenty fine, especially for the price.

As for Pecatonica, I have had their Nightfall Lager. The dark lager is one of my favorite styles and so I upbeat at the prospect of another one appearing on store shelves. Unfortunately, the few times I've had it – on tap – it has been a syrupy, ill-attenuated mess. Did a perfectly delectable barrel leave Minhas only to become sullied somewhere along the way each time? It is certainly possible. Wherever the blame lies, I have avoided Pecatonica since. Well, until recently.

Pecatonica Oktoberfest pours a lovely light amber color. Atop the clear amber liquid sat about half an inch of loose, off-white foam. Sadly it did not hang around very long. Inside there was a fair amount of bubbles. All in all, a very pretty brew. (All that glitters…?)

There was a lot more caramel to be smelled than the bier's color let on. Usually big sweetness is accompanied by a darker hue. Sneaky. Some nice grassy hops and a nebulous, berry-like fruit scent rounded things out for my nose.

I was thoroughly unsurprised to find that the taste was dominated by caramel sweetness. I can only imagine what it would have been like if there wasn't nice, firm carbonation and a tasty bit of black pepper as well to put down the sweetness rebellion. Shades of bread and banana rounded out the taste.

Grassy/spicy hops bid the malt auf wiedersehen leaving things in a pretty dry and bitter state. There was also an astringent chemical taste that I couldn't identify. Of Schaumhaftvermoegen there was not a trace.

Talk about going out with a whimper. Octoberfest has been the cruelest style for Wisconsin brewers this year. I am tempted to find another local Festbier just to end this year's batch on a high note instead of this. Knowing next to nothing about the actual details of how Pecatonica's beers are made nor what trials and tribulations my bottle may have undergone prior to being in my clutches, I don't know on whose shoulders this mess belongs. On the one hand, the paucity of bready tastes as opposed to sweet, toffee ones is not a sin belonging to Pecatonica alone. On the other hand, the banana and chemical tastes are as is the lack of a nice lagery crispness. The tastes just don't harmonize here; instead it is as if they are at loggerheads all the time.

Junk food pairing: Go for the cheesy overload and pair your Pecatonica Oktoberfest with some Snyder's Cheddar Cheese Pretzel Sandwiches dipped in a fine cheese food product dip.

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|| Palmer, 5:29 AM

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