Craft Beer Scene Around Rockford: Pecatonica Beer Co.’s Oktoberfest fairly true to the style

By Michael Sears
President, Forest City Brewers

Greetings to all my beer-loving friends.

The nice temps and mild weather have returned, making the days pleasant and the evenings cool — not quite crisp yet, but cool enough to enjoy a few quality beers beside a nice fire in the pit. That being said, let’s continue this week with another Oktoberfest, this one from Pecatonica Beer Co.

The Pecatonica Beer Company of Gratoit, Wisconsin, was started in October 2012 by Head Brewer/Managing Partner Tim Quinn and his brother, General Manager Tom Quinn. Although their portfolio is a modest four beers, their focus is, according to their website: “Rolling out a series of handcrafted beers brewed in small batches. Our mission is to impress the craft beer enthusiast with well-balanced, full-bodied beers.” The Pecatonica tap room, which is in Warren, Illinois, just recently opened. They currently contract to brew their beer through Minhas Brewery.

For those of you not familiar with what contract brewing is, here is a quick explanation. Contract brewing is an agreement between a creator (someone with a recipe) and a brewery that allows the creator to brew their beer in much greater quantity than their own equipment allows, therefore making it possible to distribute their beer more readily to the region.

An interesting fact about Pecatonica Beers is they will contain some hops grown from Tom’s very own hop yard.

For this tasting, I am using a traditional American pint glass. The pour is clear with a coppery orange-colored body. A decent one-finger depth of foam recedes quickly to a thin layer, leaving no lace behind.

As with the Capital Oktoberfest from last week, the aroma is difficult to detect because of the very minimal head, but I do smell the familiar malty character, neither bready nor biscuit as with most Oktoberfests, but definitely a malty presence. There is also some light caramel and another that I just cannot put my finger on. Some earthy hop presence is noticeable as well.

The initial taste is malty and sweet, almost too sweet. I also get some hints of apple and the hop earthiness. At the finish is an odd flavor that I think is somewhat metallic, not overbearing, but still there.

The mouth feel is light to medium, with moderate carbonation and a fluid feel. Not bad at all.

This is my first beer from Pecatonica Brewery, and as much as I hate to confess, I had some preconceived feelings because it is contract brewed at Minhas. I am glad my initial feelings did not hold true, and this beer is much better than any of the beers that are Minhas brands. That being said, although this is fairly true to the Märzen/Oktoberfest style, I feel it is just average, and the metallic taste at the end needs to be eliminated. I hope that as the Quinn brothers continue to brew, they can sharpen this recipe a bit and get it balanced, maybe a little less caramel and a bit more Vienna malts. Unfortunately, their mission did not succeed to impress this craft beer enthusiast.


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. 24-30, 2014, issue

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