Craft Beer Scene Around Rockford: Revolution Brewing’s Oktoberfest offers good all-around balance

By Michael Sears
President, Forest City Brewers

Greetings, all!

Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany, has kicked off and is in full swing; the first day of autumn arrived last Tuesday; and the weather here in the Rock River Valley has been delightful once again. Speaking of Oktoberfest, the club will be having our Oktoberfest picnic this coming Saturday, something I’m looking forward to. Good beer, food and the great company of my fellow Forest City Brewers, but I will stay away from the das boot game this year, shooobuddy! Well, then, shall we take a look at another Märzen? This one is from Revolution Brewing of Chicago.

Josh Deth, managing partner of Chicago’s Revolution Brewing, became interested in home brewing from his frequent visits to Bell’s Brewery while attending the University of Michigan. In 1995, he landed a job cleaning kegs at the now-defunct Golden Prairie Brewing, and a few years later, while working at Goose Island as a cellar man and brew pub brewer, Josh came up with the idea for Revolution.

After the first few attempts to open a brewery didn’t work out, Josh — with the help and support of his wife, Krista, and a few friends — opened Handlebar in 2003. During this time, he also worked as executive director of Logan Square Chamber of Commerce, where he promoted local businesses and managed the Logan Square Farmers’ Market. During his time at the Chamber, he found an old building on Milwaukee Avenue with a nice tin ceiling. The idea of a brewery was resurrected.

Revolution Brewing opened in February 2010 with a second-floor Brewers’ Lounge added in July 2011. The production brewery and tap room opened in spring 2012. They have plans for further expansion. Revolution’s Kedzie Avenue brewery is one of the largest in Illinois, featuring a 60-barrel brewhouse. Their portfolio features six year-round beers, 14 specialty/seasonal (including Oktoberfest) and five barrel-aged.

For this review, I dug out my traditional dimpled glass stein from last year’s club trip to the New Glarus Oktoberfest. The pour is a clear, amber-orange color, producing an off-white head about two fingers in depth with good retention for a bit before dissipating, leaving minimal lacing.

Unlike some of the past Oktoberfest beers I have reviewed, the longer head retention allows the aroma to step up. This has pleasant bread-like grainy, malty aroma at the front, with subtle background sweetness of caramel and a hint of apple and grassy hop aroma.

The taste has some initial nuttiness that is quickly followed by the pleasing malt graininess and quickly followed by a well-balanced sweetness of the caramel. The yeast flavor in the middle really bridges this beer nicely from the malty flavor to the earthy hop bitterness. A good balance of malt and hop flavor with zero cloying sweetness after the finish.

Mouth feel has a good medium carbonation level, quite smooth with a slight slickness that is nice on the tongue and finishes crisp with a hint of lemon. It has a really nice cleanse to make way for the next drink. The almost 6 percent alcohol by volume is hidden quite well.

Overall, this is a really nice Oktoberfest. I think this is a good example of the style. Although maybe a tad on the strong side, it drinks like a much lighter beer. This succeeds where many Oktoberfest beers fail, as it is not overly sweet with good all-around balance. A really nice beer that won’t wear out your taste buds because it is too hoppy or sweet, something to enjoy with some good friends on an early fall afternoon and evening. Nice job, Revolution (I have my fist in the air).


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 Oct. 1-7, 2014, issue

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