Well since Chris seems to be slacking on his research into beer, I'll post my latest forays.
after listening to a broadcast of the Sunday Session where they talked with Jim Koch of Boston Brewing, I started paying attention to the beer I'm buying. specifically the "drink before" dates labeled on these things. Sam Adams has their dates listed on the sides of the bottle as well as printed on the top of the 12 packs. this was a surprise to me to find out that the Haggen down the street from me is selling out of date Beer. I picked up a 12 pack of the Boston Lager for the dirt cheap price of $10.30, only to find out the beer had turned on me. Not too much mind you, but the flavors were definitely different from the fresher beer I've had before from the company. The malt flavor that is so prominent in Boston Lager had definitely gone south. I also could not detect any hop aroma or flavor at all, and the commercials for the Boston Brewing company proclaim loudly how the hops should be big and bold in their brews. Even saving a few dollars for the 12 pack I found it was not worth it. much better to buy the fresh beer at the retail price then try and save a dollar or two on old beer. Jim Koch of Boston Brewing even says they will buy back the out of date beer from retailers just to avoid this kind of taste happening. So make sure you check the dates before deciding a beer is "bad." it's not the brewers fault that the retailers don't check their stock. Boston Lager is a great beer, and the freshness does make a difference.
As for the Octoberfest beer they were selling, that was a very good beer, lots of malts and dark colors to enjoy. the mouthfeel was silky, and the carbonation was just right for a dark beer, as it did not interfere with the taste at all. Even after four or five in the night I could still enjoy the brew as it was not a palate killer as most darker beers tend to be.