It’s mid-September, the temps are dropping (If only slightly), and it’s time to start rotating your beer fridge with the Fall seasonals. As much as I love pumpkin beers and the darker brews that late-Fall will bring, I’m not quite there yet. To brace myself with some middle ground I’ll look no further than the delicious Oktoberfest – Slightly sweet, biscuity dry in the finish, perfect for a crisp evening with an early setting sun.
The Professor put up a brief, yet informative account of the Oktoberfest celebrations and the Marzen style the other day that should be clicked on again, if nothing else, for the picture (Wow!). Marzen beers can be consumed at any time of year of course but if you want the true Oktoberfest beers, especially from Bavaria, you need to drink up in September and into October. My favorite true German Oktoberfest is the remarkable offering from Hacker-Pschorr – Crisp, clean, with a spicy sweet finish. For domestics, I’d have to say Brooklyn puts out the most accurate representation of the style. Today though I’m trying out a Marzen from one of the most highly regarded breweries in the world, Weihenstephaner. Every knows the Weihenstephaner Weisse Beer is the best you’ll ever come across, period, the end. Their Festbier seems to be lost in the shuffle though and I’m not sure why. Well, let’s check it out and see if their superiority shows through again.
Poured from the typical 16.9 oz slender German bottle (Which gets tossed immediately into my homebrew supply closet), the Wiehenstephaner Festbier shows a golden hue that’s topped with a loose 1 inch head that dissipates quickly. Unlike most Oktoberfests that give off a slightly boozy, bready nose, this one sends off mostly grainy, grassy notes. I’m getting some metallic notes, which I don’t like at all. Taste starts off with the typical spiciness and sweetness of the style that’s mixed in with some cookie-like tones (I’m picturing dry biscotti). Leans more on the spicy side than the sweet. Mouthfeel is light and airy with plenty of carbonation coming through. Drinkability is right about in the middle for me since some of those dry Euro-Lager notes come through in the finish. I could put down another 1/2 liter, but I’d probably reach for something else instead.
In the end, I’m giving the Festbier from Weihenstephaner 2.5 hops. Not a bad beer, but not the best of the style and certainly not the best that this outstanding brewery has to offer.