Friday, October 8, 2021

After the Fest

In 2018 I had this notion to try all the Virginian Oktoberfest lagers I could lay my hands on at the time, a grand total of 6 beers, 4 of which have featured in every iteration of the project. In 2019 there were 18, 2020 had 24, and this year, I may have mentioned already, a staggering 46 beers.

I have written posts about Minnesotan, Virginian, and German representatives, but to break it down a bit further I had:

  • 13 from Germany
  • 11 from Virginia
  • 7 from Minnesota
  • 3 each from New York and Pennsylvania
  • 2 from North Carolina
  • 1 each from Texas, Vermont, Ohio, Missouri, Michigan, Massachusetts, and California (or maybe a third from North Carolina depending on how you list Sierra Nevada).

From the beers that I haven't already posted about there were a few standouts, and if you've been following Fuggled for much more than a nanosecond they are names you will recognise.


August 1st is one of the most anticipated dates in my beer calendar, as it is on this most august of days that Sierra Nevada release their annual Oktoberfest. I guess the pandemic has put the annual collaboration on hiatus for the time being as both last year and this have been just SN beers, and both have been absolute delights. This year's version was marketed as an "amber märzen" and it hit all the right notes. It did however break with Fuggled tradition by not being a beer I drank a 12 pack of each weekend, unlike in years passim.

For the first time ever I have managed to get my hands of all of Olde Mecklenburg's seasonal beers, and I was really keen to include Mecktoberfest in the tasting to see how it stacked up. The answer that question really shouldn't be a massive surprise, it stacks up very well. A delicate balance of malt and hop, with the clean, crisp lager fermentation finish you expect from such masters of the bottom fermented arts. I also learnt this week that they also do CO2 capture at the brewery, which just makes me love them even more.


It is an incontrovertible truth that the brewery whose products most regularly show up in my fridge is Vermont's Von Trapp. In common with my favourite breweries they are masters of lager, and their commitment to quality, authenticity, and just making great beer shone through in their Oktoberfest this year. Von Trapp's Oktoberfest has probably been my single most regularly drunk märzen this year, again getting a lovely richness to dance gracefully with slightly spicy hops, and a moreishness that could seriously jeopardise plans to try other beers in a session.

With those special honorable mentions out of the way, here is the final ranking of all 46 Oktoberfest beers I have tried this year. Where beers have the same overall score, I have made no attempt to disambiguate them.

1. Ayinger Oktober Fest-Märzen - 36/40
2. Beltway Fest - 34/40
3. Port City Oktoberfest - 33/40
3. Sierra Nevada Oktoberfest - 33/40
4. Rothaus Eiszäpfle - 32/40
4. Von Trapp Oktoberfest - 32/40
4. Utepils Receptional Festbier - 32/40
4. Summit Oktoberfest - 32/40
4. Interboro Festbier - 32/40
4. Blue Mountain 13.Five Oktoberfest - 32/40
5. Olde Mecklenburg Mecktoberfest - 31/40
5. Great Lakes Oktoberfest - 31/40
5. Indeed Oktoberfest - 31/40
5. Fair State Coop Festbier - 31/40
5. Erdinger Oktoberfest - 31/40
5. Spaten Ur-Märzen - 31/40
5. Beale's Fest - 31/40
6. Warsteiner Oktoberfest - 30/40
6. Shiner Okotberfest - 30/40
6. Devils Backbone O'Fest - 30/40
6. Starr Hill Festie - 30/40
6. Bell's Oktoberfest - 30/40
6. Schell's Oktoberfest - 30/40
6. Hacker-Pschorr Oktoberfest Märzen - 30/40
7. Tucher Festbier - 29/40
7. Benediktiner Festbier - 29/40
7. Schlafly Oktoberfest - 29/40
7. Reason Märzen - 29/40
8. Bitburger Festbier - 28/40
8. Sam Adams Oktoberfest - 28/40
8. Brooklyn Brewing Oktoberfest - 28/40
8. Beaver Island Oktoberfest - 28/40
8. Paulaner Oktoberfest Bier - 28/40
9. Weihenstephaner Festbier - 27/40
9. Smartmouth The Princess - 27/40
10. Bauhaus Schwandtoberfest - 26/40
10. Barrier Märs Zen - 26/40
10. Hofbräu Oktoberfestbier - 26/40
11. New Realm Bavarian Prince - 24/40
12. Paulaner Oktoberfest Märzen - 23/40
12. Yeungling Oktoberfest - 23/40
13. Hi-Wire Zirktoberfest - 22/40
13. Victory Festbier - 22/40
14. Brothers Festbier - 21/40
14. Genesee Oktoberfest - 21/40
15. Solace Gute Nacht - 19/40

Ayinger then take not just the title of best German Festbier/Märzen of 2021 but also the overall title of the Fuggled Oktoberfest Beer of the Year!

So now the time has come to move on to something different...schwarzbier for example

Wednesday, October 6, 2021

Festbierzeit

Now, if you are an Oktoberfest purist, then I suggest you look away as I write about the 13 German märzens and festbiers that I tried as part of my mass tasting. While 11 of the beers were from Bavaria, only 5 on those were from official Oktoberfest breweries, the remainder were from Rhineland-Pfalz, Nordrhein-Westfalen, and Baden-Württemburg.

In terms of "style", 8 were pale "festbiers", 4 were darker "märzens", and one was a weizen festbier. The spread of scores ranged from 23 to a frankly awesome 36/40, with the average being 29/40. A reminder that the overall average from the 46 beers I tried was 28/40, so generally the German beers were at or above average, with only 3 brews failing to reach the magic 28. As ever, here is a reminder of my scoring criteria:

  • Appearance - 3 points
  • Aroma - 10 points
  • Taste - 15 points
  • Balance of bitter to sweet - 2 points
  • Personal preference - 10 point

Just as with yesterday's list of Virginia Oktoberfest lagers, I am not going to produce a massive great list of tasting notes with key phrases repeated ad nauseum, you know "bready" for the märzens, "grainy pils malt character" for the festbiers, but I will hit some highlights.

Firstly, I didn't even know that Baden-Württemburg's Rothaus made a märzen, though it is pale rather than amber it is called a märzen given its starting gravity, as the law requires in Baden-Württemburg, which makes something of a mockery of the Anglophone world's attempts to define styles. I mentioned earlier that one of the beers I tried was Erdinger Oktoberfest, a weizen festbier that weighing in at 5.7% makes it just a touch stronger than their regular weißbier, and it was a lovely, refreshing change from the other beers in the tasting, if a little difficult to decide how to judge.

Anyway, on to the final rankings for Germany's representatives...

1. Ayinger Oktober Fest-Märzen - 36/40
2. Rothaus Eiszäpfle - 32/40
3. Spaten Ur-Märzen - 31/40
3. Erdinger Oktoberfest - 31/40
4. Hacker-Pschorr Oktoberfest Märzen - 30/40
4. Warsteiner Oktoberfest - 30/40
5. Benediktiner Festbier- 29/40
5. Tucher Festbier - 29/40
6. Paulaner Oktoberfest Bier - 28/40
6. Bitburger Festbier - 28/40
7. Weihenstephaner Festbier - 27/40
8. Hofbräu Oktoberfestbier - 26/40
9. Paulaner Oktoberfest Märzen - 23/40

At one point it looked as though it was going to be a fairly close run thing for the Germans in this tasting, but then along came Ayinger like a bull in a china shop to blow everyone else out of the water. Such an immense beast of a complex lager, it is one of the seasonal lagers that I look forward to each autumn, regardless of the whole Oktoberfest thing, it is just the perfect beer for dreich days watching the leaves turn.

Update: thanks to Rob for pointing out that Rothaus Eiszäpfle is in fact a year round beer rather than specially made for this time of the year. The shop I bought my 6 pack in (yes, I trust Rothaus so will splunk way north of $15 for 6 bottles) told me it was shipped to the US specifically for Oktoberfest time, so it is staying in the tasting.

Tuesday, October 5, 2021

Oktoberfests of Virginia

Okotberfest would have finished on Sunday, so it seemed like an apt cut off point to my own endeavour to try as many festbiers and märzens as I could lay my hands on. The final total was 46 individual beers, and while I won't be taking any more notes and assigned scores, I may have another few if I see any from breweries that I trust to make great lagers, looking mostly at you Schilling.

Of those 46 beers, 11 were from Virginia. I know for a fact there are more than 11 breweries in Virginia making lagers broadly in the realm of Oktoberfest, but I had criteria for picking, the main one being did my local bottles shops sell them as singles? Sorry brewing companies, but I am not going to splunk north of $10 on a 4-pack or 6-pack of beer when I am not confident in the quality of the product. Even those breweries that I know and trust rarely had me buying more than a single as I didn't want my fridge to overflow, at which I failed utterly anyway.

Of those 11 beers, only one was a festbier, Devils Backbone O'Fest, while the spread of scores ranged from 19/40 to 34/40, with an average of 28/40, which is also the overall average score of the 46 beers. Just a reminder that my scoring criteria are as follows:

  • Appearance - 3 points
  • Aroma - 10 points
  • Taste - 15 points
  • Balance of bitter to sweet - 2 points
  • Personal preference - 10 points

I am not going to bore you with endless tasting notes, especially as 10 märzens would mean excessive repetition of "bready", so here are the final rankings and scores for the Virginia Oktoberfests

1. Beltway Fest! - 34/40
2. Port City Oktoberfest - 33/40
3. Blue Mountain 13.Five Oktoberfest - 32/40
4. Beale's Oktoberfest - 31/40
5. Devils Backbone O'Fest - 30/40
5. Starr Hill Festie - 30/40
6. Reason Märzen - 29/40
7. Smartmouth The Princess - 27/40
8. New Realm Bavarian Prince - 24/40
9. Brothers Festbier - 21/40
10. Solace Gute Nacht - 19/40

I have to admit to being slightly surprised by the results here, in particular with the New Realm Bavarian Prince score given that last year it was the overall winner of my tasting with 34/40. I am not sure if I got a bum can, but I felt that it wouldn't be fair to give them a redo on the basis of last year's results. Perhaps more dramatic is the score for Solace's Gute Nacht, which last year scored a paltry 10/40 and was one of only 2 drain pours, but at least this year was much better and I finished the pint.

I have to confess to being slightly torn on the overall winner though. I had Beltway's lovely Fest! at Kardinal Hall last Friday, and it was a really excellent märzen, rich, complex, and yes bready in all the right places, with a lingering dry finish that was crisp, clean, and never left me feeling overwhelmed with sweetness. My very next beer was Port City's Oktoberfest, again a superb example of the märzen style, though lighter than the Beltway being 5.2% to 5.8% and not quite as rich. When I had finished that pint of Port City, I had another, then another. That extra richness being a hallmark of the style is why Beltway wins overall though, especially as both beers scored 8/10 for personal preference.

So congratulations to Beltway Brewing of Sterling for being the Virginia Oktoberfest Lager of 2021! If you are stilling drinking märzens and festbiers and see it available, I highly recommend it, as I do with anything that scored 30/40 and above, especially with Devils Backbone O'Fest if you are more of a modern festbier drinker.

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Of Minnesota Oktoberfests

 At the beginning of this month, Minneapolis based writer Jerard Fagerberg started work at the same organisation as myself. The subject of beer pretty quickly came up and lo and behold we have another person on the team that writes about the world's favourite barley based beverage. Having suitably followed each other on Twitter, I got a message from Jerry offering to send some Minnesota festbiers and märzens to add to my ongoing mass Oktoberfest tasting. A few days later and my fridge had 7 beers from the far north chilling down. Come Sunday they were ready to drink...and so I did.


The beers were, as you can see in the picture:

I decided to subject them to the same approach as I have been doing with all the beers in this year's tasting, which is exactly the same as last year:
  • Sight - 3 points
  • Smell - 10 points
  • Taste - 15 points
  • Balance of sweet to bitter - 2 points
  • Personal opinion - 10 points
So without further ado, let's jump into my Cyclopsesque tasting notes, I didn't take pictures for each beer as I was too busy drinking the beer, you understand that right?

Summit Oktoberfest - 6.5%
  • Sight - recently polished copper, inch of ivory head, excellent clarity
  • Smell - fresh crusty bread, rich malt complexity, no hops
  • Taste - beautiful Munich malt sweetness, rich bready notes, herbal hop bite in the finish
  • Sweet - 2.5/5
  • Bitter - 2/5
What a lovely start to the tasting, a beautifully complex lager that has everything you need to make it dangerously drinkable. The hops were evident without intruding, and the clean lager fermentation gave it the right amount of snap to keep me coming back for more. There was also an intriguing slight coconut note in the mix.

Schell's Oktoberfest - 5.8%
  • Sight - orange, almost Irn-Bru orange in the light, persistent off white head, beautiful clarity
  • Smell - toasted crusty bread, a touch of toffee, no hops
  • Taste - toasted bread, and also classic pilsner malt cereal character noticeable, clean herbal hops
  • Sweet - 2.5/5
  • Bitter - 2/5
I have to admit that I was really please to see this one on the box. My last beer from Schell's was a decade ago when they brewed a tmavé that I very much enjoyed, and here was another that, were Schell's available in Virginia, I would be buying regularly. Medium bodied, with a fantastic balance, and eminently drinkable.

Bauhaus Schwandtoberfest - 5.7%
  • Sight - deep amber, quarter inch white foam, good clarity
  • Smell - fresh bread from the oven, little if any hop aroma, clean
  • Taste - bready malts again, toasty with a slight caramel note, clean hop bitterness
  • Sweet - 2/5
  • Bitter - 2/5
The head sank into a schmeer of bubbles pretty quickly. This was a decent, malt forward, clean lager, with just enough hop bite to stop that hefty body from being cloying.

Beaver Island Oktoberfest - 6%
  • Sight - deep copper, red highlights, thin white head, excellent clarity
  • Smell - Honey on toast, no hops
  • Taste - slightly doughy, underbaked bread, maybe a touch of burnt sugar
  • Sweet - 3/5
  • Bitter - 2/5
In lots of ways this had things right. It was medium bodied, quite complex, and the bitterness from the hops was enough to just stop it being too sickly, but there was something of an odd after taste which was a distraction trying to nail down.

Indeed Oktoberfest - 5.8%
  • Sight - amber, quarter inch of white head, good clarity
  • Smell - pilsner malt cereal, sweetness of Maillard reactions
  • Taste - toasted malt, rich malt sweetness, floral hops
  • Sweet - 3/5
  • Bitter - 2/5
Oh I liked this one. Lots of malt complexity, toasted Vienna, toffee like Munich, yum, yum, yum, to top it all there was the crisp (still fuck off with your crispy shite people) lager characteristic that brings everything in to sharp relief for another mouthful.

Fair State Cooperative Festbier - 5.7%
  • Sight - golden, half inch of persistent white foam, good clarity
  • Smell - rich pilsner malt grain character (decoction mash?), nice bready character, subtle herbal hop note
  • Taste - solid cereal grain character, lots of Pilsner malt, traces of honey, spicy hops
  • Sweet - 3/5
  • Bitter - 2/5
This was bloody marvellous, absolutely bloody marvellous. Like a stronger Czech style lager, packing a wallop bit still with a firm bitterness and clean finish. Could happily drink this all day long.

Utepils Receptional Festbier - 5.9%
  • Sight - deep gold, quarter inch white head, superb clarity
  • Smell - dollops of lightly honeyed pilsner malt, light bready note, some subtle lemongrass
  • Taste - more honeyed pilsner malt, floral hops with a slight spicy edge
  • Sweet - 3/5
  • Bitter - 2/5
Another lovely festbier, perfectly balanced, refreshingly clean in the finish. Reminded me of the Primátor Exklusiv 16° strong pale lager from Czechia which was once declared the world's best lager. Again a beer I could imagine drinking maß after maß of in an autumnal biergarten.


So there we have it, 5 märzens and 2 festbiers that do Minnesota proud. In terms of a mini-league on my point system they ended up as:
  1. Utepils Receptional (32/40, wins on personal preference)
  2. Summit Oktoberfest (32/40)
  3. Fair State Festbier (31/40, third on personal preference)
  4. Indeed Oktoberfest (31/40)
  5. Schell's Oktoberfest (30/40)
  6. Beaver Island Oktoberfest (28/40)
  7. Bauhaus Schwandtoberfest (26/40)
Utepils for the win it is then, and clear evidence based on these numbers that the pale festbier style is still my preferred version of the annual autumnal lagerfest...


Thanks again to Jerry for sending the beers down, and I am in the process of curating a selection of fine Virginia beers to send back north for his drinking pleasure.

Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Old Friends: Port City Downright Pilsner

You'd think that a brewery that got 4 mentions in my annual top 10 Virginian beers wouldn't really be getting an "Old Friends" post. Even more so when you consider how often I have said brewery's products in my fridge, and the regularity with which I post pictures on Instagram of their beers, especially their lagers. However, it is the case that for all my enthusing about Port City Brewing up in Alexandria, and my extolling of the virtues of their simply wonderful Lager Series program, I have been criminally negligent of the beer that made me fall head over heels with them in the first place...Downright Pilsner.

If I have the story correct, Downright Pilsner was first brewed in 2012, purely as a seasonal. It sold so well, and in the Velkyal household that included at least 4 cases in a couple of months that year, that it became a part of their core lineup. A pair of those cases were bought for a couple of parties we had that autumn, firstly our house warming, having recently taken ownership of the keys to our house, and later for a Czech night to mark Czechoslovak Statehood Day on October 28th. Downright is billed as a Bohemian Pilsner, and was certainly a hit with plenty of the Czechs and Slovaks at our party, especially among those that emigrated in the wake of the 1969 crushing of the Prague Spring.

As I say, Downright is marketed as a Bohemian Pilsner, and in terms of the numbers it is pretty much spot on, brewed to 12°, if memory serves, 4.8% abv, and 37 IBU of Czech hops, though my memory seems to think that it used to be about 44 IBU, but one quibbles. Keeping slightly out of kilter with it's brethren in the homeland, Downright is dry hopped with Saaz. I spent a good year or so badgering my local Wegman's to start stocking it, they have the rest of the Port City range, so I knew they could. Eventually to my delight it showed up, and then the Lager Series started and I got all distracted.

Feeling guilty, I chucked a couple of bottles into my mixed 6 pack at the weekend, determined to stop ignoring my old faithful and to reacquaint myself with its delights. Thus, with the Sunday evening Oktoberfest clutch done with, and just wanting to enjoy a beer for its own sake more than anything, I poured them into my Chodovar mug...

Goodness me but isn't that a thing of beauty, both the glass and the beer to be frank. I got the glass on eBay as piece of nostalgia for the first Chodovar I ever had, in such a glass, at Pivovarský klub. Anyway, the beer, beautiful as I said, a lovely translucent gold, topped with a healthy white head that persists and left some lovely lacing on its way down the sides of the glass. I mentioned that the beer is jam packed full of Saaz hops, and sure enough everything you expect is there, lemongrass, orange blossom, that spicy note that is difficult to pin down sometimes. In amongst it all is a grainy note, lightly honeyed, classic Pilsner malt really.

Even after all these years there is something deeply comforting about Downright, it just tastes as a well made pilsner should do. Hops, and lots of them, a firm clean bitterness to cut through the soft billowing sweetness of the malt, like drinking a summer meadow in the Šumava region of Bohemia. The finish is clean, crisp (not crispy for fuck's sake, get a fucking dictionary), and satisfyingly refreshing, not in a bland watery way, but in the way that makes you want more, a whole lot more.

So yes the beer is still great, and I shall suitably adorn myself in sackcloth and ashes for having neglected it for so long...might also organise another Czechoslovak Statehood Day bash and buy several cases. The new label though is just fantastic, with the a skyline that looks for all the world like Prague, and folks drinking large mugs, it could almost be the beer garden at Letna, overlooking the Vltava toward Our Lady of Týn on Staroměstké náměstí to the left, and the south tower of St Vitus Cathedral in the castle to the right.

As I said in a previous post about this beer, Port City have this Bohemian style pilsner done right, damn right, and I need to drink more of it.

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

A Perfect 10

You would be forgiven, if all you drank was American made "Bohemian Pilsners", for believing that pale lagers from Czechia are almost uniformly 14° Plato or above, such is the frequency with which you come across beers with an abv north of 5.5%.

The truth though is that for all the Pilsner Urquell love you get in the craft beer world, and that love is thoroughly deserved for such an iconic, and truly great, beer, the most popular beer in Czechia is Gambrinus 10°. When talking about traditional Czech breweries, it is a pretty solid bet that their top selling beers are also 10° pale lagers, aka "desítka". If you go into practically any standard boozer in Czechia, the kinds that don't have side pour taps, don't fanny about with different types of pours, and where tourists would stand out a mile, if you ask for a "pivo" you will get a desítka.

Last week I got a message from Jace, the GM of the Charlottesville Starr Hill tasting room, telling me that he had a case of Elder Pine 10 Plato Pivo and was happy to share some with me. Having agreed a trade of a couple of cans of Olde Mecklenburg Mecktoberfest and Carolina Keller in return, I picked up the beers last Friday. I say beers, because Jace chucked in a New Zealand style Pilsner that was frankly superb, but I am not going to write about that one.

Obviously though I am writing about the desítka, but first a picture...


Look at the simple glory of that beer, also cool can design, but that beer just looks the part. As much as I love many US made pale lagers, there are times when I feel they are just a touch on the, erm, pale side. Don't get me wrong, they are still fantastic beers, but from the offset with the colour and the voluminous white head and hung around stubbornly, clinging to the glass as I drank, this one felt just plain right.

Now, zoom in on the picture above and read the abv. There is a school of thought that if you times a beer's abv by 2.5 it will give you the starting gravity. Four times two and a half is....that's right, 10, and exactly what you would expect from a desítka in Czechia. So far it looks the part, and the numbers work out right for the part too. Ok, ok, try not to get too carried away here, take a sniff...hay, lemongrass, some floral stuff, and a very subtle bready malt note. Oh god, please don't let this beer fuck it up when I actually drink it...


Hallelujah, no fucked up flavours here! The almost honeyed grain is there, the firm through unobtrusive bitterness is there, the delicate interplay of orange flower hops and the malt is there. Wait, where am I? Am I back in a Černý Most boozer, you know, the one at the bus/metro station, crowded with working men in their blue overalls? Back, nope I am at my kitchen table in Virginia. With duly expected fervour I insist Mrs V try it too...she sips, she nods, she looks at the can..."when are we going to Gaithersburg?". Approval.

It didn't take long for the other cans to make their way into a glass, and subsequently down my throat, and now I want more, a lot more. 

I guess I need to plan a trip to Gaithersburg next time they have this delight available.

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Rheinisches Bitterbier

 It's becoming an obsession, really it is.

Ever since Andreas Krennmair suggested the name "Rheinisches Bitterbier" as a name/style for my most recent homebrew, I have been digging around trying to learn more about it. I actually managed to polish off the entire keg with a couple of friends over the weekend, and the final beer looked like this:

I have to admit that I was marginally surprised at just how dark it was, but it was certainly a lovely moreish beer. Towards the end of the keg, the sweetness of the Munich malt had mellowed out a bit, so when I inevitably rebrew it in the autumn, I will lager it as I had previously intended.

Back though to the term "Rheinisches Bitterbier". I mentioned in my previous post that in the early part of the 20th century, the style was listed with "Westfälisches altbier". My research so far has failed to shine much light on the Westphalian Altbier, though I have been able to find some further details about the Rheinisches Bitterbier in some of the German books in Google Books.

According to "Untersuchung von Nahrungs, Genussmitteln und Gebrauchsgegenständen":

Admittedly with the help of Google Translate, my German is o for a general gist, but I wanted to be a little more certain, Rheinisches Bitterbier and Westfälisches altbier are described as:

"These low gravity beers are made like bottom-fermented beers through a vat and barrel fermentation, with a strong addition of hops. They contain 3.64-5.5% extract, 3-4.8% alcohol by volume, and 0.165-0.515% lactic acid"

A confession, the text in red is taking straight from Google translate, and I am not entirely sure by what is meant, though I am assuming they just mean primary and secondary fermentation occurring in separate vessels? What I can say for sure is that we are talking about well hopped, top-fermented, low gravity beer.

Clearly the text above draws heavily on the work of Dr Josef König, who in the 1920 edition of his book "Chemie der menschlichen Nahrungs- und Genussmittel" wrote:


Here König gives another couple of interesting details, including a starting gravity of "9%" which I think would be the equivalent of 9° Plato, or 1.036 in specific gravity. There is also more about the hopping of Bitterbier, "unter starkem Hopfenzusatz bzw von gebrühtem Hopfen zum Lagerfass bei den bitterbieren" meaning that the beer is strong hopped in both the kettle and the lager tank...dry hopping basically.

When it comes to colour and taste perception we turn to volume 4 of "Encyklopädie der technischen Chemie" by Wilhelm Foerst, published in 1953:

My rough translation of this would be:

"Rhenish bitter beer is a top-fermented regular strength beer with a golden yellow color, which is fermented at a fairly low temperature, then lagered at around 6 degrees in the storage cellar and filtered. There is a lot of hops in the brewhouse and hops are also added to the storage barrel ("hop stopper"). This gives it a very aromatic taste."

So here we have a beer that looks very much like a modern Kölsch and is very hop forward, with strong kettle hopping and drying hopping to make a very flavourful beer.

I think then that the beer I brewed would not qualify as a Rheinisches Bitterbier as understood in most of the 20th century.

Interesting from my perspective is that Westfälisches altbier seems to have disappeared from from the books I was digging into, so more research required for sure.

After the Fest

In 2018 I had this notion to try all the Virginian Oktoberfest lagers I could lay my hands on at the time, a grand total of 6 beers, 4 of w...