Dismiss Notice
We're celebrating 10 years of BeerAdvocate magazine with $10 print subscriptions for US residents.

Subscribe now!

13 beer blind Ofest Taster

Discussion in 'Midwest' started by ZAP, Oct 9, 2013.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. ZAP

    ZAP Dec 1, 2001 Minnesota

    I recently completed a 13 beer blind taste test of Oktoberfest beers.

    Of the beers I had tried 6 of them this year at least once. Those beers were Great Lakes, Spaten, Weihenstephaner, Summit, Schell and Sam Adams. The others I had not had this year.

    Wife poured 6 ounces of the beers into glasses numbered 1-to-13 and kept the key.

    I spent about an hour or more separating a top level and a bottom level. Then I layered the bottom level. They I set out to separate the top level. I ended up need my wife to re-pour the final six beers.

    My #7 beer was clear and I knew it was Weihenstephaner due to its color and flavor. It is a lighter ofest. I slotted this beer right after the top six and behind the bottom six.

    None of the beers were bad.

    I guessed 7 correct (Great Lakes, Hacker, Paulaner, Spaten, Weihenstephaner, Summit and Becks)

    As always there were surprises in the final results. There really wasn’t a lot separating these malty lagers when you drink them blind.

    Here are the final results:

    1. Great Lakes
    2. Shiner
    3. Hacker
    4. Paulaner
    5. Spaten
    6. Point
    7. Weihenstephaner
    8. Schell
    9. Summit
    10. Leinie
    11. Sam Adams
    12. Becks
    13. Ayinger

    -Shiner #2 was a huge surprise. I guessed it as Schell. I have not had it before or since but have been meaning to get it again to see if I was onto something or on something when I slotted it second.

    -Point #6 was another surprise. Again I had not had it before or since.

    -Even Leinie at #10 is a mild surprise as I had that pegged for last. Guessed it as Point. Would have never guessed it would finish above Sam Adams.

    -Not sure if Ayinger was old or what but it did not distinguish itself as a german ofest.

    -Not surprised to see Beck’s near the bottom to be honest.

    -I’m not real happy with how they finished. I do like Great Lakes, Hacker, and Paulaner a lot but also thought I would have had Schell and Sam ahead of Shiner, and Point. Whatever. That is why you do these. I’ve tasted enough beers in my day to trust my buds even when things to not turn out the way I would have thought in some cases.
     
    Chaz, budgood1, Gutes_Bier and 2 others like this.
  2. steveh

    steveh Oct 8, 2003 Illinois

    Yeah, that one's surprising -- especially considering that it's more to-style than Great Lakes. What were your "rules" for style? Because I can bet I see a of favoritism to what you like and don't like in a beer, opposed to what's correct to style.

    To the Ayinger, I know that a few years ago I was finding old Oktoberfest on shelves and it had gone sort of sour. I wondered how everyone was thinking it was so good. But when it's fresh, it's damn good.
     
  3. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    Thank you for conducting that test and posting your results. Blind tasting is the way to go and correctly identifying 7 of the beers is pretty darn good.

    I had a Shiner Oktoberfest last night (my second of the six-pack) and it is indeed a high quality Marzen beer.

    Cheers!
     
    Gutes_Bier likes this.
  4. steveh

    steveh Oct 8, 2003 Illinois

  5. Mplsmetro57

    Mplsmetro57 Jan 30, 2013 Minnesota
    Beer Trader

  6. steveh

    steveh Oct 8, 2003 Illinois

  7. opwog

    opwog Jun 16, 2008 Minnesota

    What you were on was 114 ounces of beer ;) I just did the quick math on this and that is almost ten beers! With a style that intentionally doesn't stray much from a 5% malty beer, it would be tough for me to do a proper ranking with even half that much consumed.
     
    Mplsmetro57 likes this.
  8. ZAP

    ZAP Dec 1, 2001 Minnesota

    I didn't finish all the second tier six ounce glasses during the tasting. Once I had them separated I left them be until later in the day. I finished all the beer but it was over about 7 hours. But the palate fatigue was real at a certain point. Not sure it affected it that bad though as identified more than half of them blind.
     
  9. morimech

    morimech Nov 6, 2006 Minnesota

    I have had all those except the two that are found almost everywhere, Leinie's and Shiner. I admit that I have only had two Shiner beers. I quickly concluded they were the Leinie's of Texas and passed them over since. I will give their O-fest a try.

    Hacker-Pschorr is by far my favorite marzen. Would be interesting to see if it still was in a blind judging. And I also see Surlyfest has again changed styles, now it is a marzen.
     
  10. GeezLynn

    GeezLynn May 10, 2009 Colorado

    Great list, although I'm curious where Staghorn would've fallen on it.

    Would you mind explaining further? There's several that I haven't tried on his list, but am familiar enough with the style to know which types I prefer.
     
  11. ZAP

    ZAP Dec 1, 2001 Minnesota

    My thoughts exactly on Shiner...and I just bought a sixer to try it some more...I'm starting to wonder if my wife fucked that up....I had that beer pegged as Schell and what I had tonight is not close to Schell and hardly impressive....Maybe I miss read the key or something as she abbreviated....I was pretty sure it was Schell and stunned it was Shiner and after having Shiner today I don't know how I could mess that up....even on my early tasting notes (1st time through the 13) I had it as Schell....who knows...

    I usually do these tasters with my brother and the quality control is impeccable but I've done a few small ones with the wife before and her attention to detail is not as intense and when it comes to pouring 13 beers into glasses marked 1-13 there may have been a mix-up....had to be

    I love Hacker as well....I just got Surlyfest and it is very good but still hop forward in my opinion...
     
  12. ZAP

    ZAP Dec 1, 2001 Minnesota

    I had one sixer of Staghorn this year and unfortunately did not save one for the taster as I was not thinking ahead when I had it....I did think it was less full flavored this year than in past years but still good..
     
  13. steveh

    steveh Oct 8, 2003 Illinois

    Great Lakes is the most obvious. It's too estery, too caramel sweet and roasty to the style, not to mention too strong. As I've often said, Great Lakes makes lagers for ale drinkers -- they just aren't as clean and straight malty as a good lager ought to be.

    That said -- it doesn't make them awful beers, just not what I'd look for to style.
     
  14. steveh

    steveh Oct 8, 2003 Illinois

    I think this year's Staghorn was actually less roasted in character than in years past, actually leaning more to bready and better to style. But like you, I had it early on in the season -- might have to see if I can find some more.
     
  15. GeezLynn

    GeezLynn May 10, 2009 Colorado

    Right. Great Lakes is one that I have had (and reviewed, I think). Had the same impression, too big, too much alcohol evident. But the next four on his list don't really follow that pattern, do they?

    Edit: After checking my review, I didn't really mention the noticeable alcohol in the review. But that has definitely stuck in my head each time I pass it over looking for Oktoberfests. I think it's a well-made beer, like all Great Lakes beers. I just don't love that take on the style.
     
  16. ZAP

    ZAP Dec 1, 2001 Minnesota

    I like maltier ofests and love GL beers to start with so it is probably just a personal preference. After drinking more of several on this list I think H-P would be my favorite but I do like the Great Lakes version. I also liked Staghorn when it was a bigger ofest...just a personal preference I guess....i did not rate based on exact style guidelines, just what I liked better....
     
    steveh likes this.
  17. steveh

    steveh Oct 8, 2003 Illinois

    Since 3 of the next 4 are perfect examples of the style, no, they don't follow any pattern except the reviewers own likes. Taking into consideration that 1 and 2 are considerably different from each other, and completely different from the Munich styles -- it doesn't make you stop and wonder? ;)
    Exactly what I think about it, and probably the majority of American takes on the style -- including Sam Adams.
     
  18. steveh

    steveh Oct 8, 2003 Illinois

    I'm surprised you didn't like the Summit better than you did, it's a bigger, sweeter take on the style like GL. Any thought on that?
     
  19. JMN44

    JMN44 Sep 19, 2013 Minnesota
    Beer Trader

    My favorite Oktoberfest beer is Great Lakes with Schell's being #2. Those are the two that stick out above the rest to my taste buds. GL may not be true to style but I really enjoy it.
     
  20. igor

    igor Nov 7, 2009 Minnesota

    Too weird I was just chatting with. A co-worker yesterday about Octoberfest beers as he's been havng a lot lately. I'm generally not a fan of them but last year really liked the Ayinger.
     
  21. ZAP

    ZAP Dec 1, 2001 Minnesota

    Yeah that is a big ofest....plenty of malt but something with the hops they use just doesn't do it for me in this style. I am a big fan of Hallertau in ofests....probably why I like HP and Paulaner so much....not sure how many use Saaz in ofests but to me it doesn't fit in this beer as well....It's still fine but not elite for me...
     
  22. steveh

    steveh Oct 8, 2003 Illinois

    Not sure too many use Saaz for an Okto. Hallertauer and maybe Spalt or Tettnang.

    I have the feeling Summit uses Saaz for aroma more than flavor.
     
  23. russpowell

    russpowell May 24, 2005 Oklahoma
    Beer Trader

    Something seems off on that Shiner ranking to me, but who knows? I always found most of their beer lacking in body & flavor...
     
  24. ZAP

    ZAP Dec 1, 2001 Minnesota

    I agree...
     
  25. steveh

    steveh Oct 8, 2003 Illinois

    Same here, so how did it land the Number 2 spot?
     
  26. ZAP

    ZAP Dec 1, 2001 Minnesota

    I'm not sure. Why not try to do a blind taster with these same 13 beers then post the results exactly as they finished without switching them around to make your results look better and see how yours comes out? That might be a good exercise for you.

    I did buy a sixer of shiner to try it some more...I'm starting to wonder if my wife fucked that up....I had that beer pegged as Schell and what I had in the six pack is not close to Schell and hardly impressive....Maybe I miss read the key or something as she abbreviated....I was pretty sure it was Schell and stunned it was Shiner and after having Shiner again I don't know how I could mess that up....even on my early tasting notes (1st time through the 13) I had it as Schell....who knows...

    I usually do these tasters with my brother and the quality control is impeccable but I've done a few small ones with the wife before and her attention to detail is not as intense and when it comes to pouring 13 beers into glasses marked 1-13 there may have been a mix-up....had to be
     
  27. BottleCaps80

    BottleCaps80 Jan 12, 2013 Iowa
    Beer Trader

    Had Lakefront's Oktoberfest last night and was very, very impressed. They nailed that beer. Easily one of my top US beers of the style.
     
  28. steveh

    steveh Oct 8, 2003 Illinois

    Who says I haven't? And maybe it's why I'm asking how the Shiner scored so high? Other than plain, honest interest. I can certainly see a mix-up in the Schell and Shiner causing a discrepancy.

    Märzen has been my favorite style for over 20 years and the season is always my favorite for finding and trying the different labels (I probably have 15 singles saved from all the brands I bought this year). I always have high hopes when I try the next one and never pour one with any preconceived notions (I so want to like the Leinie's and just can't). Shiner stands out to me because they've made a few other specialty beers that have been so good, the Okto disappointed.

    And with 2 decades of Oktoberfests gone by, I've also proven that I can pick out quite a few of the different labels blind -- especially Spaten and Paulaner/H-P -- let alone Great Lakes and Sam Adams.
     
  29. ZAP

    ZAP Dec 1, 2001 Minnesota

    Yeah shit I don't know what to tell you....palate fatigue....pouring error....error reading the key....just a fuckup.....not sure but it doesn't deserve the #2 spot. I do like GL for #1...thought I would have had Schells higher...I could have adjusted the order to make it look more normal but that is how it turned out for whatever reasons..
     
  30. ZAP

    ZAP Dec 1, 2001 Minnesota

    I think you may be adverse to the Great Lakes yeast strain.....I get what you are saying here but love that flavor in their lagers....Elliot Ness, Dortmunder Gold, etc.....i have not enjoyed it as much in their IPA's etc where it seems to overwhelm the hops a bit....Haven't had a pils from them either but it might be a bit much for that style as well....
     
  31. steveh

    steveh Oct 8, 2003 Illinois

    And I'm just the opposite -- I think the Burning River is a terrific Pale Ale. Different strokes, but I've also talked with a lot of people who enjoy good German lagers, as I do, and they agree when I say GL makes lagers for ale drinkers. ;)
     
  32. ZAP

    ZAP Dec 1, 2001 Minnesota

    Guess that is the funny thing with beer because I've talked to a lot of folks who love German lagers and and swear by Great Lakes as among the best in the U.S. for the style.
     
  33. steveh

    steveh Oct 8, 2003 Illinois

    We'd have to qualify the drinkers, wouldn't we. ;)
     
  34. ZAP

    ZAP Dec 1, 2001 Minnesota

    Kind of the ol "My beer drinker friends" are better than "your beer drinker friends" argument?
     
  35. steveh

    steveh Oct 8, 2003 Illinois

    I never said they were all friends. :D

    Just a matter of getting everyone around the same table, with the same bottles of beer, rather than trying to describe and define flavors over the internet.
     
    Chaz likes this.
  36. ZAP

    ZAP Dec 1, 2001 Minnesota

    Yeah that would be fun
     
    steveh likes this.
  37. Chaz

    Chaz Feb 3, 2002 Minnesota
    Beer Trader

    A good basic idea right there, and when it comes to planning such a sampling it might also be helpful to keep it on the small side, out of concern for one or more reason: when it comes to time available (and even in terms of the total number of samples) not all of us can dedicate a full afternoon, much less possess certified expert judge palates with which to accurately discern hop and malt varieties in more than a dozen examples of a style. :cool:

    This past weekend BA grantcty and I had a (non-blind) tasting with some of the same brands ZAP had in his blind tasting, and my list is about what I'd have guessed it would be*:

    1. Hacker-Pschorr
    2. Spaten
    3. Paulaner
    4. August Schell
    5. Stevens Point
    6. Summit
    7. New Glarus
    8. Licher
    9. Ayinger
    10. Paulaner Wiesn
    11. Samuel Adams
    12. Victory
    13. Capital

    * Ranking based upon objective/on the spot criteria vs. memory is a non-starter for me, here, since I was familiar with all but one of these, and brand / profile familiarity will always play a part (for me especially, see #2. ;))

    When it comes to a tasting involving "more than a couple" brands of any style I've never known anyone to be 100% clear of palate fatigue. Even with a couple of short breaks (and water, and cheese, apples, crackers, summer sausage -- and black coffee!) in between all of these --and especially considering the fact that I don't drink the way I did in my Thirties-- I would've preferred five or six to rank-to-style. But again, time was limited.
     
  38. JasonR1975

    JasonR1975 Jun 11, 2013 Michigan
    Beer Trader

    That's interesting. My first real try of any Marzens - and I greatly enjoyed the Paulaner and Hacker much more in a mix a six than the Sam, the Short's Noble Chaos and I think a couple Ayingers just to round it out. That definitely jibes with the other rankings here posted here
     
  39. ZAP

    ZAP Dec 1, 2001 Minnesota

    Yeah I think if push came to shove and I had to just rank my top Ofests off of all my experiences this fall I think my top five would go like this.

    1.Hacker
    2.Great Lakes
    3.Paulaner
    4.Schell
    5.Spaten
     
  40. steveh

    steveh Oct 8, 2003 Illinois

    Zap will be happy I'm calling someone else out here... ;)

    Sort'a surprised that Capital took up the caboose here, especially since I find Cap, Point, and Victory all pretty close in character.

    Was it just a matter of points being so close that something had to take last?

    Uh, Licher?
     
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  • About Us

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • Extreme Beer Fest® Cometh

    February 3-4, 2017. Boston, Mass. Limited tickets available. Prepare for epicness.

    Learn More
  • 10 Years of BeerAdvocate Magazine

    We're celebrating 10 years of BA mag with $10 print subscriptions for US residents!

    Subscribe