Posts Tagged ‘festbier’

Oktoberfest: Domestics

Friday, October 30th, 2009

2009-10-30-lhThe month of October is almost over, and Munich’s Theresienwiese has been empty for weeks. Perhaps it’s about time for me to move on from my festbier stint. But before I do I must try a few domestic Oktoberfests. After all, they say the highest-selling festbier is not Bavarian, but American (Sam Adams). I won’t be trying that one tonight, but I do have a few good selections from Left Hand of Longmont, Colorado, Bell’s Brewery in Comstock, Michigan, and August Schell out of New Ulm, Minnesota.

The Left Hand Oktoberfest pours an orange-amber with a little creamy straw head. The nose is very thin.2009-10-30-bells A bit of herbal hops and the faintest hint of malt are overpowered by a strange vegetal character and cider aroma. A smooth malty flavor makes up for this. Rich toast character is backed up by a residual sweetness that is perhaps a little too strong, leaving a bit of a cloying sensation.

Bell’s Octoberfest is a yellower goldenrod with the same amount of white head. It also has a light aroma, with a good noble hop character and some toast. This same balance is reflected in the flavor, featuring a rich herbal and notably bitter hop profile accompanied by a clean malt taste. Just a bit of mouthcoating despite active carbonation.

The Schell Octoberfest is a gamboge color with a bit of bone-white head. A sweet, mildly malty nose almost escapes taint from the cider aroma.2009-10-30-schell A sweet, mildly malty flavor almost escapes taint from the DMS corn taste. The high level of residual sweetness and lack of bitterness throw the balance all out of whack.

+/-Bell’s Octoberfest

3.4 (3-7-6-4-14)

+/-Left Hand Oktoberfest

3.0 (3-5-7-3-12)

+/-Schell Octoberfest

2.6 (3-6-5-2-10)

Oktoberfest: Erdinger

Wednesday, October 14th, 2009

Yet another greater Munich area brewery, Erdinger Weissbrau is in the hamlet Erding at the end of the S2 northeast of Munich. Their festbier is also made with wheat, producing an Oktoberfest Weizen.

2009-10-14-erdingerThis Weizen is a somewhat hazy copper color with a visibly active carbonation. Its big and creamy off white head lasts forever. The nose is delicate but complex. A light banana character greets first, with rich caramel malt notes quick on the heels. Slowly it opens up into a big malty aroma accentuated by phenols and alcohols: cloves, cinnamon, pepper, and a bit of a warming tingling.

A creamy but not overpowering body and clean mild flavor make this a very drinkable beer. Rich dry maltiness comes through as toast. Pepper and a bit of herbal hops accompany, and there is the slightest hop bitterness.

If the goal of a festbier is to be drinkable for ten hours a day, the Erdinger undoubtedly passes. If the goal is an interesting beer highlighting the best Bavarian grains and hops, Erdinger has produced a triumph.

++Erdinger Oktoberfest Weizen

4.3 (5-8-8-5-17)

Oktoberfest: Weihenstephan

Wednesday, October 7th, 2009

2009-10-07-weihenstephanBrauerei Weihenstephan is another Bavarian brewery that makes a non-Oktoberfest festbier. The oldest brewery in the world calls theirs Weihenstephaner Festbier.

The Festbier pours a crystal clear golden blonde. The head is bone white and lusciously creamy. The light nose is all dry pale malt, though it opens up a bit with time. There’s a growing alcohol tingle and just a bit of apples and and straw. There might be some DMS corn character, it’s hard to tell. Mostly the aroma is just malt.

Clean malt continues to dominate through the flavor. Some residual sweetness is balanced by hop bitterness and an earthy noble hop flavor. Some peppery character from combination of the alcohol and the hops. Lively body keeps the sweetness fresh, but it’s still a little thick.

Clean and drinkable, but not particularly interesting. This beer seems simply like their premium lager turned up a bit. Where is the generous Munich malt, with its toasty flavors? Where is the heavy hopping with the last of last season’s crop?

+Weihenstephaner Festbier

3.5 (4-7-7-3-14)

Oktoberfest: Ayinger

Tuesday, October 6th, 2009

Brauerei Aying is located almost at the east end of Munich’s S-Bahn 6 in the village of the same name.2009-10-06-ayinger-fest They are one of a few breweries around Munich just too far out to be allowed participation in the official Oktoberfest. They still make a festbier, called Oktober Fest-Märzen, an “Authentic Bavarian Festival Lager.”

The Fest-Märzen has a good tan head and clear dark goldenrod color. The nose is very malty, from good European 2-row barley. This warm, slightly sweet biscuit and toast aroma is accompanied by some earthy hops. Hints of alcohol add a spice but a bit of corny sulfur distracts.

The flavor is quite assertive. Rich malt flavor and sweetness are balanced by a significant hop bitterness. Light alcohol warming and herbal noble hop character create a wonderful complexity. Just the slightest sulfuric cooked corn flavor. Some sweetness, but not at all cloying. Rather drinkable, if somewhat heavy.

+Ayinger Oktober Fest-Märzen

3.6 (4-6-8-4-14)

Oktoberfest: Spaten

Sunday, October 4th, 2009

Munich’s Oktoberfest is held at the Theresienwiese (often shortened to “the Wiese”), literally “Therese’s Field”. It refers to the Princess Therese whose matrimony is celebrated annually with the beer festival. In September fourteen “tents” are built in the Theresienwiese to house the beer halls and gardens of Oktoberfest. These quasi-temporary structures have a rich history and lore and each pours a single brewery’s beers (a few serve wine, too).

Three of the most iconic Oktoberfest tents serve beer from Spaten-Franziskaner-Bräu.2009-10-04-spaten The first keg of Oktoberfest is always tapped by the Bürgermeister (mayor) of Munich in the Schottenhamel tent. The trendy Hippodrom is the first tent inside the festival. And the Ochsenbraterei is the place to go for oxen at Oktoberfest.

The Spaten Oktoberfest pours a brilliantly clear tawny amber. A little bit of tan head is long-lasting. The meager nose is mostly malt and light-struck (*thank you green bottle*). The good toast and biscuits are overshadowed by the skunk, corn, and metallic notes.

A thin flavor is dominated by skunk character. Some good malt taste comes through, fighting all the way with the metallic. Well it’s not all disappointing – the balancing sweetness and active carbonation make for a smooth full palate.

+/-Spaten Oktoberfest Ur-Märzen

2.9 (3-6-5-4-11)

Oktoberfest: Paulaner

Monday, September 28th, 2009

Oktoberfest is underway in Munich. The largest beer festival in the world dates back to 1810 with the wedding of Crown Prince Ludwig and Princess Therese. Six Munich breweries produce almost seven million liters of festbier, a style similar to the standard German lager and accented by generous additions of noble hops and specialty malts. It is also the strongest beer Germans drink outside of bock beer season.

This fall the Iowa City beer bar The Sanctuary is having a rotating series of Oktoberfest kegs. At the moment they have on the Paulaner Oktoberfest from the eastside brewery Paulaner. This beer is brilliantly clear, an aged copper color that borders on ruby. Some of the tan head lingers a while.

A sweet nose is pungent but not sharp, full of toast, caramel, and plum. The flavor is very sweet. Burnt caramel and some earthy hops dominate, with an accompanying sweetness. Alcohol tickles the back of the throat, but the cloying sweetness lingers.

+/-Paulaner Oktoberfest

3.1 (3-7-6-2-13)