LEINENKUGEL’S BIG EDDY line was devised as a catchall for strong ales, imperials, and other such snifter-suited brews. Thus adding an Oktoberfest in 2013 might make sense, given how Märzens are usually boosted takes on halfway-to-amber lagers. Pushing the Über-Oktoberfest all the way to 8.5% ABV was a bit of a stretch, though, threatening to draw more comparisons to strong export lagers of the Eastern Block (e.g. Baltika #9) than half-liters of German Gemütlichkeit quaffed beneath a lattice of vines.
Fortunately, Über (no points for name creativity) starts confidently with an appealing pour—dense amber, not yet viscous but clearly thicker than the average lager, and with a tight head of small bubbles. Obviously a beer of substance. The aroma is slightly confounding: initially attractive for a nutty sweetness but with a strange perfume subtext that doesn’t seem entirely natural. Meanwhile, relatively low levels of carbonation combined with a fuller body make the mouthfeel unexpectedly big and almost bulky. Hops are increased correspondingly, showing distinctly in the aroma as well as the finish, but are still quite mild overall (Mt. Hood and Spalt).
Über-Oktoberfest is admittedly charming in small quantities, but in larger doses begins to crack apart. Although no crystal malts were used in this beer, the density of pale and Munich malts necessary to achieve 8.5% ABV ended up overfilling the body and leaving it askew. If Leinenkugel’s wanted a big autumn lager, a doppelbock would have been a better bet.
Served: 12 oz bottle