Like a less-grumpy/violent Mike Ehrmantraut, Sierra Nevada isn’t a brewery that tolerates half-measures, and its commitment to doing things just right has made it one of the most prevalent and beloved independent craft breweries in America. Case in point, Oktoberfest. Rather than interpret German tradition in creating the annual offering to the Oktober gods, the brewers bring in a different legendary German brewery every year as a collaboration. This year’s concoction is a team up with Brauhaus Miltenberger, a malty, ready, slightly sweet harvest ale that nails that whole “tastes like fall” cliché.
Ninkasi is the kind of beermonger that puts a unique stamp on pretty much everything that comes out of the brewery — this is, after all, a place that shot a yeast strand into space, just so they could legitimately claim to have made space beer when it came back to Earth. Nothing got transported to Germany to make Ninkasi’s take on Oktoberfest, though there’s a definite Pacific Northwest stamp on the palate thanks to a blast of hops, which adds a whole new layer to the malty, roasty taste. No, it’s not rocket science -- that’s reserved for stouts -- but the slight pivot takes a traditional brewing style and makes it Ninkasi’s own.