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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Ratings: 123 |  Reviews: 76
Photo of irishkyle21
3/5  rDev -9.4%

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.

 581 characters

Photo of bigox420
3/5  rDev -9.4%

Photo of marty21
4/5  rDev +20.8%

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

Serving Type was a 500ml can.

I'd originally had this in Nova Scotia, then found it at a private store here in SK.

A: Orange/Brown fluid with an off-yellow/brown head that ends up being an ivory slick color once it goes down. quite a bit of bubbles coming up from the bottom. looks alright.

S: sweet malt with a faint hint of hops, some dark berries in there as well.

T: it's sweet tasting and for me doesn't have a harshness to it considering its 7%. there is a definate carmel taste, but the sweetness isn't overpowering.

M: a tad bit thin, but about average. despite there being a lot of bubbles it doesn't feel like its overly carbonated.

D: decent, it's bitter at the end, but pleasant all the way through.

i would get it again.

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Photo of biboergosum
3.53/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

500ml can, another common import offering available damned near everywhere in this burg.

This beer pours a rather clear dark red brick amber hue, with two fingers of foamy, somewhat creamy off-white head, which leaves some decent island chain lace around the glass as it genially recedes.

It smells of sweet, almost pastry-like caramel malt, a touch of stale toffee, musty dark fruit, earthy, grassy noble hops, and a little boozy nail-polish nostril burn. The taste is bready, mildly Christmas cake-like caramel malt, and very mild noble, floral hops.

The carbonation is fairly low, the body an adequate medium weight, and generally smooth, with a sort of hollow creaminess, little booze or anything hop-wise taking any particular toll here. It finishes off-dry, with some warm caramel and basic floral hops just hanging on.

Refreshing enough, and pretty tame on the booziness quotient for the style, which is a good thing in my estimation. Simple, sure, but at 3 bucks or so a can (which around here is a dealio, yo), you get your basic style and money's worth, for certain.

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Photo of ChrisCage
3.46/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

A- I was quite impressed with the rich thick foamy head upon the initial pour! This has a color similar to an orange pekoe tea....maybe with more of a brownish tinge though. Carbonation looks to be fine, but with several streams of bubbles rising to the top of the brew. The lacing is moderate, leaving behind some small pockets of foam on the side of my mug.

S- Interesting....very malty with a decent alcohol aroma lingering in the back round, but being 7%, I guess this shouldn't be unexpected. I don't detect really any hop bitterness, but perhaps a slight cocoa smell in the backround. Not as aromatic as I would have liked.

T- There is a molasses sweetness detected here....not super sweet but it's definitely there. I can taste some toffee notes and just a slight earthy/herbal finish. The alcohol is noticeable, but it seems to taste more balanced after the initial shock on the palate.

M- Decent, if not a little on the light side. For a dark beer however, it is rather refreshing! The carbonation is fairly light, which keeps this as a smooth drinking beer.

D- I think with the higher alc/vol, this would be a great beer to enjoy over a long timeframe, but it would definitely have it's consequences. It's not a great beer, but rather a decent one. I will probably buy this again when out with friends sometime.

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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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