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.

3 comments:

  1. Rothaus don't make a Festbier, they make a Märzen which is available all year round. Who told you it was a Festbier?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Was not aware that it was a year round beer, when I bought it form my local bottle shop they told me is was shipped to the US specifically for this time of year. Will update the post.

      Delete
    2. Well, that could also be true. Maybe they only export it to the US at this time of year. In its home market it’s always available.

      Delete

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...