Craft Beer Scene Around Rockford: Capital Brewery’s Oktoberfest a delicious, malty lager

By Michael Sears
President, Forest City Brewers

Greetings, craft beer lovers.

The weather sure is playing tricks with us, eh? That cool snap coupled with the fact that I noticed the leaves starting to lose their green really brought home that fall is just around the corner … hoo boy! So, I guess I should talk about another Oktoberfest beer, this one from Capital Brewery.

Since it has been since May that I talked about Capital Brewery, I will recap about them.

Capital Brewery of Middleton, Wisconsin, was founded in March 1984 by Madison, Wisconsin, entrepreneur Ed Janus, in the former Mazomanie Egg Factory building. In 1985, they installed brew kettles from the German brewery Hoxter Brewery, with production beginning in spring 1986 and their first brews being Pilsner and Dark. They currently produce more than 30,000 barrels of beer annually. Capital has a portfolio of 19 distinct beers: eight year-round, four seasonal and seven limited release. The majority are brewed under the strict German Reinheitsgebot guidelines, a.k.a. the German Beer Purity Law, requiring that the only ingredients used are water, barley, hops and yeast.

Capital Brewery Co. recently claimed a total of nine medals in the 2013 World Beer Championship, an international beer competition, sponsored by the Beverage Testing Institute in Chicago. Six of those awards were gold and three silver. Capital Brewery dominated the lager tasting, and their version of Oktoberfest was one of the gold awards. They were also named Grand National Champion in U.S. Open Beer Championship, where 2,500 different beers were submitted by breweries from the U.S. and more than 20 other countries.

For this tasting, I am using a traditional American pint glass. The label on the bottle is quite colorful with red, orange and yellow leaves with a backdrop of the Wisconsin State Capitol building — very nice aesthetics.

The pour is a brilliantly clear amber color with orange highlights. The head is a vigorous off-white of one-finger depth but short-lived, as it recedes quickly to a thin layer, leaving no lace behind.

The aroma is tough to discern because of the very minimal head, but I do detect bread-like malt at the front with some sweet caramel and maybe a touch of hop. I think I may have caught a very slight apple also.

The initial taste is malty and slightly sweet across the tongue. It reminds me of fresh-baked wheat bread and honey. The apple I thought I smelled comes through next, then smoothly transitions to a dry and grassy/spicy hop finish … not bitter, but nicely balanced.

The mouth feel is smooth and medium-bodied with some slickness on the tongue and decent carbonation, creating a dry finish that lingers, balancing out the sweetness.

Overall impression is Capital’s Oktoberfest is another delicious, malty lager. The toasted Vienna malt and balancing hops give the beer a tasty, classic flavor I could sit and enjoy on a fall afternoon or evening by a nice outdoor fire with friends.

Until next week, I bid you auf wiedersehen and prost!

Michael Sears is the president of the Forest City Brewers. The Forest City Brewers is a home-brewing club dedicated to the art of finely-crafted beer. The club meets on the first Wednesday of each month at Thunder Bay Grille on East State Street. For more about Forest City Brewers, go to If you have comments or recommendations, please contact Mike at

From the Sept. 17-23, 2014, issue

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