My Blind Oktoberfest Tasting 2019

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by scottakelly, Sep 7, 2019.

  1. scottakelly

    scottakelly Devotee (483) May 9, 2007 Ohio

    Every year during Oktoberfest season I keep a bottle or two back of every Oktoberfest I try and after a decent collection builds up and I have a lazy weekend day I I decide to do an Oktoberfest tasting. This year I broke it down into two groups wiesn & marzen.

    Before the results, a caveat... all of these beers were good. A bad finish in the rankings is still a good beer in my opinion.


    1. Hofbrau
    2. Weihenstephaner
    3. Paulaner

    1. Spaten
    2. Dinkel Acker
    3. Hacker-Pschorr
    4. Market Garden Old Zahm (tie)
    4. Bell's (tie)

    Some thoughts on the tasting...

    For the wiesn and group I had a clear number 3 choice. Choices 1 and 2 were difficult. I ultimately chose Hofbrau as the best. Weihenstephaner is a little sweeter, while Hofbrau is a little drier and toastier.

    For the marzen group I was able to identify a clear number 1 from the get-go. I could not separate numbers four and five because each had clear flaws. The real fight was between numbers 2 and 3. Bell's was too bitter. Market Garden was too sweet. Spaten was the best overall example and very balanced.

    Overall I am not surprised by my findings. Most years I rank Hofbrau and Spaten at the top of my rankings.

    My wife participated as well. She agreed with me that Spaten was a clear number one in the marzen style. She had a different opinion however with the wiesn style. She picked picked my number 3, Paulaner, number 1.

    I forgot to hold back a SN this year and have not yet had an Ayinger. I may address the marzen style again later if I pick these up.
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  2. ScaryEd

    ScaryEd Poo-Bah (1,901) Feb 19, 2012 New Hampshire

    Cool thread. It reminds me I've actually not had most of those and need to get on that.

    I did have Hofbrau and remember thinking it was pretty meh but I'll have to revisit it.
  3. invertalon

    invertalon Crusader (773) Jan 27, 2009 Ohio
    Society Trader

    Hofbrau won my complete tasting last year (blind), where both Marzen/Festbier were combined. This year, doing them separately.

    About to do my Festbier tasting today, starting in a few minutes actually... Marzen tomorrow I'm thinking.

    My lineup for today:

    Fat Heads G'Suffa
    Hofbrauhaus Freising Festbier
    Sierra Nevada
    Columbus Brewing Festbier
    Hofbrau Oktoberfestbier
    Paulaner Weisn
    Ale Smith

    Some in the list I consider "hybrids", such as Sierra Nevada, Fat Head's. But I think they work better in this group, flavor wise.

    Tomorrow will have the other 8 or 9 examples I have for the Mazen side... Paulaner, Ayinger, Great Lakes, Thirsty Dog, Bells, Spaten, Market Garden and whatever else I have that I forgot.
  4. invertalon

    invertalon Crusader (773) Jan 27, 2009 Ohio
    Society Trader

    Just wrapped mine up... For both me and the girlfriend, Columbus Festbier won it! Our runner ups matched as well, Hofbrau Freising.

    Alesmith turned out to be far more marzen this year, it's delicious, but should have been in the Marzen category. Oops!

    The imports starting to show their age though. I bet if all the beers were the same age, results might have been different. That being said, Columbus was a favorite of ours before this tasting and it confirmed it which is cool!

    Sipping on them after the fact, Columbus stands out for sure. Damn great Festbier!
  5. WesMantooth

    WesMantooth Poo-Bah (2,632) Jan 8, 2014 Ohio

    I haven’t got it yet, but got Weihenstephaner last night and it’s really good. CBC standing up to the others doesn’t surprise me after this years Summerteeth (Kellerbeir). Is the Freising only at the Hofbrauhaus?
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  6. invertalon

    invertalon Crusader (773) Jan 27, 2009 Ohio
    Society Trader


    The Freising is an import bottle, not sure if associated or what from the "main" Hofbrau. Picked it up at Circle A, they got it along with the Dunkle and a third option I don't recall right now.
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  7. ZAP

    ZAP Poo-Bah (3,814) Dec 1, 2001 Minnesota

    I'm curious on your Alesmith thoughts. I got a few more to drink but was impressed with the first couple.
  8. bristol2120

    bristol2120 Aspirant (276) Aug 4, 2009 Illinois

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts. FWIW, Spaten is usually my Marzen "go to" choice.
    scottakelly likes this.
  9. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (4,128) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    It will be interesting to see if you note this as well with your Marzen tasting.

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  10. invertalon

    invertalon Crusader (773) Jan 27, 2009 Ohio
    Society Trader

    Just finished our Marzen tasting... I didn't actually pick up on the "oldness" as I did with the Festbiers.

    My winner? Believe it or not, was Three Floyd's. Runner up was Thirsty Dog.

    For the girlfriend, her winner was Sam Adam's... Runner up was Spaten.

    For both of us... The absolute worst was Shiner... Followed by Market Garden. Both were quite bad.

    Interesting results this year! Not sure I agree with my winner once it was all said and done, tasting them all side by side non-blind, but it is what it is! Very good beers though. I think FFF is a little lighter and not as intensely malty as most of them, so may be more of a "hybrid". I tend to prefer those, so it makes sense!

    I still think, overall, Columbus Festbier is the top dog all-around! Incredible stuff.
    #10 invertalon, Sep 8, 2019
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2019
  11. steveh

    steveh Poo-Bah (2,233) Oct 8, 2003 Illinois

    I tried Shiner early on this season and have to agree, not so good.
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  12. WesMantooth

    WesMantooth Poo-Bah (2,632) Jan 8, 2014 Ohio

    Interesting. You are at least the third person who I’ve seen pick the 3F out of a crowd this month. Glad I grabbed one the other night.
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  13. invertalon

    invertalon Crusader (773) Jan 27, 2009 Ohio
    Society Trader

    That's interesting! But cool to know my tastes weren't completely off, haha. That's the cool part about the blinds though, removing all bias!

    Let me know what you think when you drink up the 3F!
    WesMantooth likes this.
  14. rgordon

    rgordon Savant (966) Apr 26, 2012 North Carolina

    Thanks for this. I would like to add that I've been crawling around downtown Greensboro enjoying the North Carolina Folk Festival, I'm gonna talk about Foothills Oktoberfest shortly. We saw Booker T. Jones, (Green Onions-Time is Tight), Lunasa (Irish supreme), Skinny Tuba (Old time Nawlins) and Redd Voelkert (Texas Swing). The Carolina Oktoberfest is dry and grainy with a big roast flavor supported by a crips (crisp) nicely balanced big beer concept.
  15. surfcaster

    surfcaster Champion (807) Apr 20, 2013 North Carolina
    Society Trader

    @scottakelly --nice job.

    Locally our OMB Oktoberfest Marzen is typically my annual fav--this years a B+ with just a tiny sweet edge. Still very good. Looking to try the Highland Clawhammer which tends to lean toward the Marzen style. @rgordon--have you had it?

    The Hofbrau Oktoberfest was again outstanding and will repeat for surfcasting and college football.

    Heading out to get a Spaten.
  16. ZAP

    ZAP Poo-Bah (3,814) Dec 1, 2001 Minnesota

    All these blind tastings spurred me into action. As always wife poured and kept the key. Here are the final results with brief notes. Interestingly enough I picked each beer correctly as well.

    1. Ayinger: Rich melanoidin malty ofest. Clear #1

    2. Weihenstephaner: Only true wiesn style so easy to pick out. Dry, a bit light bodied and flavored but really nothing to knock.

    3. Alesmith: I love Alsemith beers but was skeptical regarding an ofest from them but this is right up my alley. The sweetest of the bunch with a lot of breadiness and also a good dose of caramel. Caramel bread almost. Not true to style but enjoyable. A step down from Ayinger but pretty impressive.

    4. Hacker-Pschorr: Lighter melanoidin like maltiness when compared to Ayinger but still quite enjoyable. This was real close to finishing #3 or even #2.

    5. Spaten: Surprised how dark this was. Almost chocolate brown. Unfortunately it was also slightly skunked but the rich grapenuts like malts still emerged and it was decent enough. Typically this would challenge Ayinger in my book.

    6. Sierra Collaboration: Higher carbonation. Light aroma. Caramel but light.

    7. Utepils: Generally a reliable German style brewery in Minnesota. This was intended to be in wiesn style I think but still poured an orange/amber color and tasted boozy, spicy and fruity. Bad. Not close to the style.

    8. Central Waters: I think I liked this in years past but this had a big caramel aroma and a watery artificial caramel flavor. Terrible.
  17. rgordon

    rgordon Savant (966) Apr 26, 2012 North Carolina

    Not yet, I'm a bit pedestrian these days. I'm with you on the Spaten. Many great memories. Happy trails!
  18. muck1979

    muck1979 Initiate (65) Jul 3, 2005 Minnesota

    Unfortunately, I felt the same way about Utepils Receptional. Last year's version was outstanding.
    ZAP likes this.
  19. thesherrybomber

    thesherrybomber Aspirant (284) Jun 13, 2017 California
    Society Trader

    Would it be out of line to suggest ranking American and German oktoberfest in two separate lists?
  20. AlcahueteJ

    AlcahueteJ Meyvn (1,062) Dec 4, 2004 Massachusetts

    Wow, talk about your different flavor profiles...

    "Caramel bread" might be a description I've never seen before.
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  21. steveh

    steveh Poo-Bah (2,233) Oct 8, 2003 Illinois

    You know, Caramel Bread -- you melt down Heath Bars or Milky Ways and pour them over white bread -- great fill-in when you don't have a Dunkin' coupon. :smile:
    AlcahueteJ likes this.
  22. ZAP

    ZAP Poo-Bah (3,814) Dec 1, 2001 Minnesota

    Or just whip one of these together and blow you blood sugar levels for a month.
  23. AlcahueteJ

    AlcahueteJ Meyvn (1,062) Dec 4, 2004 Massachusetts

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  24. zid

    zid Meyvn (1,318) Feb 15, 2010 New York
    Society Trader

    As long as @WesMantooth doesn’t mind, perhaps you’d consider asking a mod to merge your thread into his to keep these Oktoberfest conversations in one spot. Other people have posted their own tasting experiences into your thread anyway. I might include a tasting post of my own in one of these threads down the road.
  25. WesMantooth

    WesMantooth Poo-Bah (2,632) Jan 8, 2014 Ohio

    I would like to do a blind sampling of American ones too, but I’m going to have to call for reinforcements on this one because I have at least 8.
    AlcahueteJ likes this.
  26. AlcahueteJ

    AlcahueteJ Meyvn (1,062) Dec 4, 2004 Massachusetts

    Why not split it over two weekends or something similar?

    Two Oktoberfests on a Friday, then two more on Saturday. Repeat the next weekend.

    Then you can really sit and analyze each one.