Chicagoist's "Beer Of The Week:" Two Brothers' Atom Smasher
Most people know that Oktoberfest is a traditional time when people flock to Munich to don lederhosen and drink massive quantities of German Beer, but few people realize that Oktoberfest is a historical event to celebrate the harvest season, which is significant enough to the brewers in Germany that they created a special style of beer just for the occasion.
Oktoberfest Lagers are traditionally more amber in color and lighter in alcohol, juicy malt profiles, and a bit more sweetness than pilsners and other pale lagers. But for us, one of our favorite examples of the style is actually local rendition by the good people out at Two Brother's Brewing Company in Warrenville, where they take some liberties with the beer they call "Atom Smasher."
Oktoberfest Lagers were traditionally brewed in March, laid down in ice-filled caves over the summer months, and pulled out to drink in September and October when the new harvest season starts. This is why they're sometimes called "Marzen" beers, "Marzen" being the German word for March. Before mechanical refrigeration, brewers weren't able to make beer in the hot summer months, so they would brew as much as possible in the springtime and pickup where they left off in the fall. Oktoberfest is essentially the celebration of breweries being able to make beer again after taking a few months off. We're not sure about you, but that's definitely a reason for us to throw a party.
Unlike its traditional counterparts, "Atom Smasher" is a bit higher in alcohol content, clocking in at 7.7 percent ABV, though the real twist is that the brewery ages the beer in large oak casks called 'foudres.' The end result makes for a full-bodied brew with an exceptionally plump and well rounded malt profile that sits front and center right at the first sip. It's packed with restrained fruity notes, a touch of caramelization on the backend, and a wisp of toasty oak imparted by the foudres, which adds a nice layer of depth to the beer. Peaking out from behind these towering malt tones, we get a hint of spicy, almost herbal hops to balance everything out. We'd recommend trying this beer with a juicy steak, some rotisserie chicken, or even some grilled fish, especially if it's a richer preparation.
Look for it on tap in the coming weeks at Four Moon Tavern, Owen & Engine, and DMK Burger Bar.
By Jason Baldacci