The first meeting of Beer Club kind of picked its own theme. Even if it seems a little weird, Oktoberfest beers all seem to come out in September and with a whole mess of them coming out the week or two before Beer Club met and Surlyfest occurring two days before it, the Oktoberfest theme seemed like a no-brainer.
My initial thought was to get a few of the brands that people knew (Schell's, Summit, Sam Adams, Leinie's) and then a few of the not-quite-so-known brands outside of beer geeks (Paulaner, Ayinger, etc). The lineup ended up also being on autopilot and picking itself for the most part and we ended up with the following beers:
Flying Dog Dogtoberfest
Bells Octoberfest Beer
Left Hand Oktoberfest
Avery The Kaiser Imperial Oktoberfest
Boulevard Bobs 47 Oktoberfest
Ayinger Oktober Fest-Märzen
Capital Autumnal Fire
(and one more that I'll have to check my notes for)
Eleven beers in all, with Surlyfest being a last minute addition when a couple guys were able to procure some for the meeting. I knew that all of these should be pretty solid beers based off their scores on Rate Beer and off the word of mouth from friends and experts and my own personal experience with a few of them.
While the Oktoberfest theme was very timely for the calendar it may have not been the greatest style to showcase huge differences between the brands. I'm sure part of that is due to our inexperience with tasting and not being able to pick out the characteristics of the beer that seasoned beer tasters are capable of doing. We all seemed to notice that each brand was definitely different in aroma and flavor but it was hard to put a finger on most of them.
The one beer that stood out more than the rest of them was the Kaiser. Most of the club decided this wasn't their favorite one with Josh and I being the only ones who really liked it a lot. To me, it had some great characteristics that reminded me of what I love in IPA's (some citrus, some hops) and it also stood out in the crowd for me.
Overall, the Schell's and the Paulaner seemed to stand out (with the Paulaner being my second favorite) but there wasn't one that people didn't find very drinkable.
The beers aside, I think the meeting went very well. There were 7 of us total (with a guest as well) and everybody's comments and observations made us all notice things that we didn't notice on our own. A perfect example for me was the Ayinger. There was something to it that I couldn't put my finger, er, I mean taste buds on until Mike made me realize it was butter. Weird... I would have never been looking for a butter flavor in a beer but it was actually pretty good.
We have a very good core group of guys who seem to be coming for the right reasons and take this just the right amount of serious while still having a very fun time. I mean come on, we don't want to take the fun out of drinking beer. I'm already looking forward to next month which has already been pegged as IPA month (followed by November's Imperial Stouts).