Having been inspired by @invertalon ‘s blind tasting last year, I decided to put the (available) imports to the test. Without getting too nerdy, I did decide to pretend I was qualified to judge them by the BJCP guidelines rather than personal preference. Tasting Perimeters: I had my underage daughter pour them into glasses that I marked on the bottom (she said “this one smells really bad”. I did not look). They were all in shaker pints, and I used pretzel thins in between each beer over the course of about 45-50 minutes. The contenders: The initial pour: The midway point: The results: The notes: I went back and forth on 1vs 2 and 4 vs 5 quite a bit, so either could be “best” or “worst” easily. And there isn’t a huge separation from 1-5. I took notes on all of them. Without giving full reviews of each, I noted that the Paulaner was the best nose, a little maltier, and had a crisp/dry finish. The Spaten was the most skunky, with a darker toasted bread, and was very full/creamy, but had a dry finish. The Hofbrau had sweeter grains and was more skunky in taste than aroma, and had a lingering floral flavor. The Hacker had the weakest nose, good creamy body and flavor, but fell really flat in the finish. The Ayinger to me was the “most American” (pretty sure I don’t have to quote myself at this point since they are all quotes, but wanted emphasis here) with a rich, toffee like aroma, nuttiness (nice), and baking spice. The summary: I was surprised by this, but not in the way I thought I would be. I have been disappointed in a Ayinger the last couple years, and thought to myself, “Yes. It’s back. 1 or 2 is definitely Ayinger” (quoting my thoughts again. Nice.) I was wrong. It still drinks more like most American versions. Even if the better ones. Too sweet/rich, with a caramel like flavor. The Hofbrau was obviously a dead giveaway knowing it was a pale/blonde/Fest because I didn’t have another, but even though it was probably my favorite overall last year, it would fall in the same place whether to style, or overall enjoyment. The Paulaner has been one of my least favorites the last few years, so to see it as a top 2 was one of the most surprising aspects. Prost!