Holsten Festbock | Hanseatische Getränke-Industrie (HGI) Holsten-Brauerei AG

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Holsten FestbockHolsten Festbock

Brewed by:
Hanseatische Getränke-Industrie (HGI) Holsten-Brauerei AG

Style: Bock

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 7.00%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by canadianbarman on 07-29-2002

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Reviews: 76 | Ratings: 123
Photo of mactrail
2.46/5  rDev -25.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.25

Attractive coppery color with a big foam in the Blanche de Chambly Pilsner glass.

This is so sweet and has a pervasive perfumey note that makes me think of fabric softener. It doesn't smell like much, but that taste goes to the brain. Wet wood, metallic dregs from the canned peaches, green bean cooking water, yet weirdly spicy. It all ends with a slightly bitter dishwater taste.

Oh, this is such swill I have to go to the sink now. From the 500 ml can purchased at the Provincial Liquor Store in Ladner, BC.

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Photo of LeesinkyZaika
3.05/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3.25

Bit of a letdown. Its trying to be a Bock style of beer, IMHO despite what the label says. I believe the caramel flavor is fake, or "enhanced."The flavor dissipates across the palate nicely. Sweetness is adequate, low end of carbonation scale, and initial mouthful is pleasing and fruity. Just not rich enough in body and not satisfying enough. Note: I lived in Germany for about 10 years and have sampled many beers in this genre...so without trying to sound like a snob, I speak with some perspective.

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Photo of beerluvr
3.8/5  rDev +14.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Fluffy sticky eggshell coloured head, nice trailing on the glass as it recedes, gorgeous deep amber/light reddish color, gentle carbonation, clear as a bell. Sweet malty nose, lots of breadiness and a light whiff of caramel with a subtle hop flower backing. Bittersweet with great balance of the two. Perfectly balanced with the hops, neither dominates..makes for a smooth easy drinking Lager. Finishes long and strong, this is a great example of the style and worth looking for.

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Photo of Scrylol
3.15/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours a dark copper color with a one finger creamy head.

Slight grassy hops and caramel malt on the nose, some slight sweetness to it.

Big caramel malts and grain notes come forward on the tongue, slight hop bitterness throughout the mouth. Some hints of earthy notes. Leaves a dry, bitter aftertaste.

Bit too much carbonation, but the body felt right; medium body.

First time I've tried a beer from Holsten. Not much going on in this beer, but it wasn't too bad.

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Photo of andrenaline
3.37/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

A random can I picked up on the east coast.

A - Pours a dark amber colour, finger of head with little retention and no lacing.

S - Scent is dominated by toffee and caramel, raisins and toasted grains.

T - Much like the nose with the toffee and caramel flavors dominating, the fruity flavors come through on the finish alongside some burnt toast which lingers.

M - A tad thin and watery, could use a carbonation lift.

O - A tasty bock and a pleasant surprise from this brewery. Te flavors fit the style, but there's a few tweaks needed to make to push this into the next category for points.

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Photo of Stocean1
3.5/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A surprisingly decent bock from a generally poor brewery. Poured a two finger head upon an amber body with some patchy lacing. Quickly melted a thin collar of foam.

Smell is earthy hops, sweet molasses, licorice.

Taste follows the nose with some carmelized sugar coming through and dark fruit.

Light to medium bodied with some carbonation there is little in the way of bitterness. Very easy drinking and the alcohol was well masked.

Again, not a bad brew from Holsten and worth a try.

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Photo of bylerteck
3.33/5  rDev +0.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A - Pours a dark golden colour with tons of carbonation. Bright. One finger of light beige head on top that looks like it has staying power. No lace with a half finger of retention.

S - Dark malts, sugar, toffee, bread.

T - Caramel, sugar, toffee, less bready. Sugar is pretty strong with some odd earthy tones. Perhaps some honey as well.

M - Nice carbonation, a medium to full body, and a slightly rough finish.

O/D - A touch sweet and unstructured with some off bits, but alot better than expected. Some nice complexity hanging around with some rich malt character. Not bad.

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Photo of JohnnyBarman
3.3/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

The sound of ompah bands are in the air around KW, so Oktoberfestering is just around the corner - figured a bock was in order. Used to drink a lot of this, but I haven't in a while. So now I will.

Poured into a dimpled mug for added classiness, enjoyed on a warm fall afternoon. A dark ruby chestnut brew, thin white head subsides quickly into a fine ring. Some lacing.

Nose is caramel, toffee, dark fruit (figs), a bit of rye bread. Quite nice.

At first the Festbock is quite nice and hearty, a good kick in the ass courtesy of autumn, but after a few sips, it starts to get a bit cloying and the mouthfeel becomes a bit oily and less pleasant. Still, you could do worse bock-wise, and considering the dearth of bocks in regular rotation in Ontario, this one works for when you need one in a pinch. Sweet, a bit of nuttiness, that bit of rye and booze.

It's okay, better than the Maibock, but certainly not among the best bocks I've encountered. But if getting sloshed Oktoberfest-style is your aim, you could do worse!

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Photo of Tford
2.9/5  rDev -12.4%
look: 5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

A: Pours a nice, dark golden-brown colour with a two finger pale yellow head; it is a very good looking beer.

S: This is only a 7% ABV beer but it smells like it is 17%. This may be because there are no other scents to go along with it.

T: You can taste fruit and hops with a little spice; however, it seems a little watered down. Unlike the smell of it, the alcohol isn’t too noticeable

M: It has a medium body with a bit of carbonation, a pretty good mouthfeel.

O: Festbock has the potential to be a really excellent beer, but it isn’t. Although it looks pretty and has a nice mouthfeel, it lacks in the smell/taste categories, which are the ones that count.

UPDATE: Dammmnnn. Be sure to drink this beer cold! My last two mouthfuls warmed up while I was writing the review, and now it tastes like STRONGLY fermented athlete's foot.

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Photo of thehyperduck
3.1/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3

Served at slightly warmer than fridge temperature, this bock pours a dark copper brown colour; mostly translucent. A finger of creamy beige head lasts a few minutes before reducing to a collar around the edge. Carbonation looks a little high but looks can be deceiving. Smell is mostly roasted caramel malts without much else.

Taste is cloyingly sweet with an odd hint of some flavour I can't quite put my finger on in the finish (coffee? licorice? burnt brown sugar?) in addition to a very faint bitterness from the hops in the aftertaste. The finish is weird, but it gives character to a brew that is otherwise dominated by sweet malt character, i.e. boring and kind of cloying. Feels a little heavy/chewy in the mouth, with low-to-moderate carbonation. The alcohol is hidden fairly well, at least until the beer starts to warm, at which point the ethanol and sweetness combine to give a rather unpleasant, sticky feel to the beer.

For a cheap bock/high ABV single can that is easy to find in most parts of Canada, this isn't too bad, but I'd never specifically look for it. Doubt I'll get it again.

[Updated Nov 22 2015]

Another 500 mL can. The original review was lacking so I wanted to elaborate a bit. Holsten Festbock's residual sweetness is excessive and I don't consider this to be an especially great example of the style. But it's not awful, and it's certainly much better than one of those diesel-fuelled Euro strong lagers (think Faxe, Crest, et al.) or a malt liquor. Am I setting the bar too low here? Probably, but even though I've never been real big on this beer, it's something that I don't mind drinking occasionally - at least when the weather is cold, and I just want something cheap to warm me up a bit.

Final Grade: 3.1, a C+

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Photo of spinrsx
2.56/5  rDev -22.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

500ml Can

Appearance - Clear reddish brown colour with a large size frothy light brown coloured head. There is a low amount of carbonation showing and there is some fairly good lacing. The head lasted for around 5 minutes before it was completely gone.

Smell - malts, dark fruits - not a whole lot of smell.

Taste & Mouth - The beer has a below average amount of carbonation but it still feels fairly creamy on the tongue. As the first sip hits my tongue I can tell I'm in trouble. The beer has a very harsh taste to it. Right away I can taste the alcohol.. and tastes like a bottle of 5$ rum. I can also taste some malts and perhaps some dark fruits. (dates?) It finishes with a boozy/malty aftertaste.

Drink - The beer had some promise when I first poured it into my glass. The appearance is actually pretty good. But the taste is just dreadful.. it's almost undrinkable. Life is too short to spend time drinking beers like this one.

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Photo of toomanyideas
4.1/5  rDev +23.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

"Holsten Festbock" stands as one of my favorites in the local liquor store. It has a nice dark color, an excellent creamy head and a very smooth taste. I am surprised at the low price of this brand. Overall it feels like a beer that you would be served in a nice pub to accompany your meal. I have chosen on almost every occasion to drink this brand.

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Photo of liamt07
3.57/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Can from the LCBO, had this on several occasions and getting around to reviewing this just now!

Pours a dark reddish-orange, with a finger of brown head that fizzles like cola to nothing. No head retained, no lace. Nose of dark bread, mild dark fruits, touch of roast, sweet malts. Taste follows, more dark bread again with the sweet malts. Light, dry and dark fruits float around as well, relatively indiscriminate. Some alcohol in the finish, but a fairly reasonable mouthfeel overall. Good drinkability for the alcohol content, and often a decent choice at the LCBO in lieu of some of the other subpar offerings always found there.

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Photo of kjyost
3.33/5  rDev +0.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Pours a nice clear amber orange with a nice head that left good lacing. The nose of the beer was dominated by a malty sweetness. Upon tasting the beer though, that sweetness dominated the beer, being not an enjoyable malt backbone, but verging on cloying.
The hop character was there, but killed by the sweetness. The higher than average ABV was there, but not dominating either. Felt a little sticky on the palate and if this beer could have controlled the sweetness it would be one I would have reached for again.(03-13-10 Review).

EDIT: Consumed on 11/17/10, can poured into a beer mug. Bottom on can dated 05/2011 and found the sweet malt well balanced. As with everything, the time and place affect your perceptions :). OTOH I found the carbonation to be too low, affecting mouthfeel negatively.

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Photo of A380
3.48/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a nice dark red brown with a decent head thats gone very quick and weak lacing. Good Carbonation and nice caramelized taste to it with some grains and a slightly roasted taste. This beer goes down very well for a strong beer and at only 7 percent ABV its drinkability is pretty good. aftertaste is pleasant and the overall experience is pretty good too :)

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Photo of scott451
3.45/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Vigorous pour into a glass mug. Three finger bubbly off white headon a clear ruddy brown. Thin bubbly lacing. The head soon diminishes to a ring.

Sweet malt and spice smells. Some phenols. Taste is deep caramel toffee. Very big flavour. Licorice? Sweet and dark malts.

Medium body and carbonation. A little sweet for a big session, but better than the maibock in that regard. A 500ml can of 7% is not to be taken lightly. Another one of my fave winter brews though.

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Photo of korguy123
4.2/5  rDev +26.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Tallboy can into snifter

A- Pours like thin maple syrup. Two finger white head that stays for a couple minutes. Lacing is decent.

S- Toasted malts, brown sugar, caramel.

T- Brown sugar, caramel, sour dough bread.

M- Smooth, just enough carbonation.

Overall great beer. Saw the thread on beer brats and decided to make my own. Half this can is in the pan as we speak.

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Photo of joemcgrath27
3.47/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Getting ready for Oktoberfest in Munich, trying to mix in a German beer every time I do a review session.
A - an attractive deep amber, one thumb of white head didn't last or retain much
S - strong sweet roasty molasses malt, light grassy hops, and a definite hint of the 7% ABV
T - sweet thick molasses and roasty barley malt, pleasant grassy hop flavour, a little tinny, but a sweetness lingers almost like burbon
M - lower carbonation, somewhat chewy thickness, definite tangy sweetness that dry's out with the alcohol
D - at 7% ABV the alcohol is noticeable but not unpleasant, the flavours are strong but the do balance somehow, a decent offering

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Photo of wordemupg
3.62/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

500ml can poured into pint glass june20 2010

A clear deep amber with a few bubbles feeding a two finger light tan head that has average retention and leaves no lace

S a fair bit of burnt sugar and molasses with some sweet malt and candied fruit

T not far from the smell but with a little booze and some nut and a mild chemical aspect that brings it down just a bit

M a little thin and slightly sticky but nothing bad by any means

D decent for 7% no real problems with this brew, even a little better then expected

for cheap high test this is pretty good, I seem too remember not liking the Maibock as much as this but I'll have to go back and check my review

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Photo of mintjellie
2.53/5  rDev -23.6%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Deep copper red with a large and fast dissipating tan head. No lace. Weak caramel malt, bread, and raisin aroma. Sweet toffee flavour with a little bit of raisin and a mild bitterness to the finish. There's a slight antiseptic character as it warms that I find unpleasant. Almost medium bodied with low carbonation. Syrupy but slightly thin mouthfeel. Mediocre. Finished it, probably wont buy it again, definately wont recommend it.

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Photo of seand
2.81/5  rDev -15.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

A: Pours a dark translucent reddish brown, with a foamy tan head. A little head around the edges retains enough to leave light lacing.

S: A maltiness, some brown sugar, with a bit of alcoholic harshness - the harshness is quite surprising initially. Not really all that pleasant.

T: Starts out almost watery, going into a dry sweetness, with a small amount of the harsh notes from the aroma. It's kind of odd, and not in a good way, but also not a terrible way - just odd.

M: Medium bubbly carbonation, medium body, finishing with some stickiness.

D: Less than average drinkability, given its harshness.

I haven't had too much like this, so perhaps I'd get more out of it if I were used to the style, but I wasn't particularly impressed with this beer.

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Photo of Richter35
3.59/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Poured into the closest thing I could find to the recommended "stange" ..which ended up being my Labatt Blue-branded Pilsner glass. Poured out a thick, tan-white head which dissipated almost as quickly as it formed.

The smell took me by surprise. The mix of ingredients has certainly combined in a strange way and the first thing I smell is maple syrup. That and some seriously strong alcohol. I can't really smell anything else at the moment...

Taste is all maple syrup/molasses, grains and hops. Very sweet and not too harsh for a 7%. Normal it ain't.

Mouthfeel is decent, if a little light for the taste of the beer.

Drinkability? Naaah. I'd go for one at a time. A wierd beer that has it's pros and cons; I respect it, but I really wonder if I would ever buy one again?

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Photo of MeisterBurger
1.37/5  rDev -58.6%
look: 3 | smell: 1 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 1

Listed as an altbier? Surely not.

Pours a nice, deep mahogany topped by an inch of head that dies down, slowly erasing any trace of its existence by the end.

It smells like a public swimming pool. It's like musty chlorine and chemicals. Maybe some raisin and cherry if I'm being charitable.

The taste is a little malty, harsh and grainy, with some dark dried fruit flavors, but also along for the ride are some plasticy flavors...or is it paint or paint thinner or some harsh solventy substance. Burns the back of the throat. Not pleasant at all.

Thin, watery and flat. Those are three of the kinder words I could use to describe the mouthfeel.

This is my third and last ever beer from Holsten. I'd rather drink from a toilet.

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Photo of biegaman
2.84/5  rDev -14.2%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

The beer's deep hue captivates the eyes, trying to specify its exact colour perplexes the brain. An overall sort of chestnut tone, the appearance is a bright cacophony of colours and encompasses many shades of amber, copper and bronze. A piercing, virginal clarity enhances this engrossing pageant of pigments. Unfortunately, its head sizzled like meat hitting a hot grill and all signs of it disappeared in a very short time thereafter.

I'm sorry, I thought I had brought home a can of beer but it seems I mistakenly grabbed nail polish instead. At least that's what the smell would have me believe. The brewery's claim of adhering to the German Purity Law is already being drawn into speculation; which of the four ingredients can cause a solventy, chemical-like harshness to agonize the olfactory track like this? Think rotten fruits stirred into industrial sanitizing products.

The taste has a considerable amount of nail polish twang too - I'm thinking Bogot Blackberry, Hawaiian Orchid, Chick Flick Cherry, maybe even a bit of Tutti Frutti Tonga. While this combination of nail polish lacquers has made for an attractive and colourful appearance, it's made for a rank and rancid taste. The only flavour that is consistently accounted for is a generic blend of dark fruits - that were macerated in overproof hooch.

The alcohol may not be as agonizing as I'm making it out to be, but it's the lack of malts that is making it sensationally apparent. Its thin, watery mouthfeel is devoid of bitterness, without texture, free of yeast-infused nuance, lacking any hop presence what so ever, is destitute of any toasty or caramelly malt flavours and is completely, entirely bereft of carbonation. It contains, in other words, none of the essential characteristics of a beer.

Holsten Festbock is certainly nothing to celebrate. The only people rejoicing here will be those who enjoy high octane, moderately tasteless beers that provide a quick, relatively cheap means of getting alcohol to the brain. It would seem to me, given its entire lack of distinguishing or redeeming qualities, that that's exactly the kind of people for whom this beer was brewed. Unless you're part of that crowd I'd recommend a pass on the festivities.

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Photo of Moontang
3.65/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Served into a Heineken Wheat beer glass

Appearance: Medium head, with thick bubbles. Pleasant clear ruddy nut-brown colour. Interesting lacing after the head dissipates.
Smell: Sour smell, with definite tones of well-roasted malt.
Mouthfeel: Smooth, and very slightly viscous. Very little sting of carbonation. Quite pleasant, overall.
Taste: A sharply smoky taste, with quite a lot of acidity in front. Hints of dark malt afterwards. A hint of sweetness. Certainly not boring.
Overall Drinkability: The moutfeel supports chugging, the taste grows on one, and I would probably drink it slowly if I was in for an interesting time. I wouldn't seek this out, but I wouldn't refuse it if offered.

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Holsten Festbock from Hanseatische Getränke-Industrie (HGI) Holsten-Brauerei AG
3.31 out of 5 based on 123 ratings.
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