I have to respect an ale…er, lager factory like Wisconsin’s Capital Brewery. Their persona, their brewery’s understanding of self, is so strong and well-developed. They have no real interest in crazy American beer. They just love German and German-y classics, and that’s what they do, and they do them well.

This is a brewery that has made TWELVE DIFFERENT BOCKS, most of them being brewed again year after year. They’ve also made nine other German-style lagers. In their entire history, they have produced SIX ALES. You’d be hard-pressed to find many other breweries making as many different beers as they are, with such a high percentage all being German lagers. They’re true specialists.

That specialism is one of the reasons I get excited each year when we move into September and October, because that’s when Capital really starts to shine with beers like this.

Capital Oktoberfest

NOTES: 12 oz bottle poured into a pint glass, which just felt more appropriate than my tulip.

APPEARANCE: Very light copper, like a shiny penny. Minimal head that dissipates right away.

ABV: 5.5%, oktoberfest/marzen lager

AROMA: Light honeyed sweetness, fresh-baked bread, enticing as hell.

TASTE: Doughy, almost like sourdough with a little wildflower honey. Minimal herbal hops. A character I can only describe as “grainy” on the back end that reminds me of the taste of chewing on a kernel of malted barley while brewing. Sweetness and toasted characteristics meet right in the middle.

MOUTHFEEL: Light and with decent carbonation, although no head retention.

DRINKABILITY: Extremely high. This is beer for drinking by the liter, not by the pint.

OVERALL: Of all beers on the “lower flavor” end of the spectrum, marzen and vienna lagers are among my favorites. Despite a superficial resemblance to other styles like say, an amber ale, these beers excite me in ways a boring amber never seems to. The crisp lager character, noble hops and purity of malt flavors are the draw for me. I drink a lot of Oktoberfest brews around this time of year, and although Capital’s is by no means the most strongly flavored of those brews, it’s impeccably balanced and I think it’s ultimately one of the very best. Capital just knows how to do American-made German beer. I give this one 4 hops…I’m unable to deny it that.


  1. Kid, I’m with you on the excitement for well-played Lagers. Bready and malty but lacking the fruitiness of the ubiquitous “Amber Ale”, you’d be hard-pressed to find a more enjoyable easy-drinker than a Marzen.

    Now I’m thirsty.

    1. I agree, and this is also where a lot of American-made octoberfest beers go wrong. Some brewers think that anything with an amber hue should have a good amount of sweetness, and this is wrong, wrong, wrong in my opinion. There are a lot of octoberfests that taste more like amber ales, and they should be very different things.

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