AC Golden releases autumn, winter brews


This Oktoberfest pours clear and toffee-colored. - GRIFFIN SWARTZELL
  • Griffin Swartzell
  • This Oktoberfest pours clear and toffee-colored.
The experimental arm of MillerCoors, AC Golden Brewing Company, continues to build its reputation for solid beers brewed entirely with Colorado-grown ingredients. Newest in their retinue, Colorado Native Oktoberfest brings a pre-industrial grain bill to the table for an interesting flavor profile. Also, they've changed the recipe for Winterfest, to more mixed results.

Quick history lesson: before the industrial revolution, beers were made mostly with "brown malt" — malted barley roasted to about the color of a brown ale or porter. Paler malts were expensive. Two things changed: brewers got scientific and discovered that pale malts contribute more fermentable sugars per pound than darker malts. Second, malt roasting techniques got more precise, allowing for the cheap production of the ultra-pale two-row and six-row malts that are used as the basis for most beers.

I sought confirmation that this pre-industrial recipe was the intention from AC Golden's media contact but received no response.

Either way, the results satisfy. The beer has a little sweetness on the nose, and it sips malty and slightly buttery with a hint of warm spice from Monument-grown Tettnanger hops, a German varietal. Those buttery notes likely come from diacetyl, which is produced when lagers are brewed warmer than usual. German brewers consider any diacetyl to be a major flaw in the beer, but with the sweet malt and hop spice, this beer evokes a piece of holiday spice bread. Heterodoxy noted, Colorado Native Oktoberfest is an interesting and pleasant beer.

Unfortunately, the Winterfest lager proves less interesting. The press release says it has changed from a Vienna lager — think Negra Modelo for a palatable, widely-available example of that style — to a bock, a malt-forward German lager. My bottle came a bit skunky, with some odd phenolics complicating the profile, but the toasted-marshmallow and biscuit notes in the malt shone through nonetheless. It's a little sweet and slightly boozy, with only a mild hop presence to balance. As far as malty beers go, it's pleasant if unremarkable. Though it's nothing to write home about, fans of malty beers will have no issue drinking this one, whether by the bottle or by the Maß. 

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