Beer Review 0499: Olde Hickory Oktoberfest Lager

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Olde Hickory Brewing is located at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains, in Hickory, North Carolina. Founded in 1994 by Steven Lyerly and Jason Yates, production started on a seven barrel system and quickly outgrew, forcing upgrades. In 1997, Olde Hickory renovated an 1880 historic landmark building which now houses the brewhouse.

Still, this brewery isn’t a giant mega facility, instead choosing to make beer in small batches, 800 gallons or less at a time. Just to show you how small batch Olde Hickory are, all of their bottled offerings (as of this writing, the brewery only produces 22 oz. bomber size bottles and few scattered 750 ml containers) are hand dated. Distribution is limited to Tennessee and North Carolina, so most of my readers might have trouble finding anything Olde Hickory.

Naturally a fall seasonal, Olde Hickory’s Oktoberfest is a malty lager balanced by imported Noble hops. The beer is 6% ABV (alcohol by volume) and served in traditional one-liter mugs at their taproom.

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This beer spilled out of the bottle with an average size, creamy head that has a bit of staying power. Color of the beer was golden-orange, a little light for the style, but very attractive with a clear body, free of particles and sediment. Lacing is very nice, leaving behind solid sheets of thin foam.

The aroma immediately smacks you with sweet caramel; dig deeper and you’ll find a bready backing that hints at Tootsie Rolls. This beer is sweet and nutty but does contain a slight edge of herbal, spicy hops. It’s a very simple aroma that upholds the style, if a bit on the sweet end.

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On the palate, Olde Hickory have produced a complex Oktoberfest, offering up initial notes of caramel, bread, nuts, and hints of grape and tart Granny Smith apple. It’s sweet but not cloyingly sweet; however, it is more sweet than is typical for the style. Continue the sweet theme in the middle of the taste, until those hops hit and provide just a light bitterness and some herbal notes, cleansing the palate with herbal tea and faded caramel. The beer is medium-bodied with a medium, foamy mouthfeel.

Out of all the Oktoberfest beers I reviewed this season, Olde Hickory have produced my favorite. That’s no surprise as they make stellar beer — and this decidedly American take on the classic style is very good, with a high drinkability and nutritious quality that I typically find in beers of this ilk. It’s a bit sweet for the body provided, but it’ll do nicely in a big mug. Jubel!

Olde Hickory Oktoberfest Lager, 92 points. Price: $3.99 US for one 22 oz. bomber size bottle.

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