I got word the other day from Micah Smith of Diamond Bear Brewing that they've just finished with their first batch of 2012 Rocktoberfest, the tasty fall seasonal that I admit to drinking my fair share of last year. I've optimistically decided to take this as a sign that this long, hot summer might have an end to it after all, with the crisp days of autumn — which is the best season we get around these parts — just around the bend. This is one of my favorite beers that Diamond Bear puts out, easily the equal to their award-winning Pale Ale and a fine successor to their summer seasonal, the Strawberry Blonde.
The Rocktoberfest pours a nice, dark amber color with a good, creamy head. The smell is malty and slightly biscuity, sweet but not too strong. Served very cold, the taste is thick and crisp with the rich malt on the back end; served a touch warmer, a fuller flavor of rich caramel and sweet hops shines through to create a very satisfying drink. There's not an overwhelming flavor of alcohol present, but this is definitely a warming beer to drink, perfect for mid-fall tailgating or other outdoor activities. It's not a bad beer for just kicking back and drinking with your supper in the evenings, either. Like the brewery's Irish Red, the Rocktoberfest might be just a little heavy on the maltiness, but folks who aren't fans of incredibly hoppy beers will find a lot to love with this brew.
Rocktoberfest should start showing up in stores at any time, and it's worth your while to head on down to S. Cross St. and get some fresh from the tap. Diamond Bear conducts tours every Saturday and Sunday at 3 p.m., and your $7 tour fee will get you free samples of beer, the story behind the brewery, and one of their very attractive pint glasses. In addition, since their taproom is the only place in town where a thirsty person can get packaged beer on Sundays, it's worth making a trip downtown to grab a few cold ones. In addition to their great brews, they also make a mean root beer, so feel free to take the tour without imbibing anything alcoholic. Diamond Bear is mostly volunteer-run, with volunteers leading the tours, bottling the beer, and performing numerous housekeeping duties around the brewery — it's truly beer brewed, supported, and loved by locals.
Diamond Bear Brewery is located at 323 S. Cross Street in Little Rock. Their beers can be found in most local liquor stores, as well as many Central Arkansas restaurants. The Rocktoberfest is a limited seasonal run, so be sure to drink your fill this fall — or sit and pine for a glass of the malty nectar until next year rolls around.