Weihenstephan Festbier is underrated on BA scale

Discussion in 'BeerAdvocate Talk' started by sberg3, Oct 12, 2020.

  1. sberg3

    sberg3 Initiate (15) May 14, 2020 Massachusetts

    I being a beer lover quickly realized early on in my 21+ years that Weihenstephan brews near impeccable beers regardless of style and typically is ranked amongst the top of their class in their respective styles. However, one notable exception to this is their Festbier. Currently scored an 85 and ranked #82 amongst Oktoberfests on BA, one would not assume that Weihenstephan's Festbier would come even close in comparison to the likes of their Bavarian peers Ayinger and Augustiner, and while being a good beer, could not be described as great.

    I beg to differ.

    Weihenstephan's Festbier is one of the best if not the best Festbier i've ever tried, a wonderfully balanced golden lager with the perfect amount of hops to balance out the extra malt in the festbier style. Nonetheless, it is still ranked below countless other breweries whose lagers don't nearly come close to the craft that Weihenstephan puts into each of their beers. Am I crazy or do other people feel this way too? Should the difference between Märzens and Festbiers be enough to justify a new category for festbiers? Please discuss
  2. Brugesman

    Brugesman Initiate (71) Apr 22, 2020 California

    Haven't had the pleasure of trying that beer yet, but I'm sure I'd agree with you. Some styles are just misunderstood and underappreciated. Erdinger Weissbier Dunkel, for example, only gets an 84/Good. I think it is absolutely delicious, an excellent example of the style, and vastly underrated on BA.
    Pacioli1445, Amendm and BJB13 like this.
  3. beer_beer

    beer_beer Disciple (386) Feb 13, 2018 Finland

    I hear you. NA beers get a full point "too little" too. Maybe it's history, when they were bad. Now they are good.
    Shanex, Premo88 and Amendm like this.
  4. Brugesman

    Brugesman Initiate (71) Apr 22, 2020 California

    NA beers?
  5. beer_beer

    beer_beer Disciple (386) Feb 13, 2018 Finland

    Exactly what I meant :grin:
    Shanex, BuffaloBill12, Ranbot and 4 others like this.
  6. jzeilinger

    jzeilinger Poo-Bah (7,613) Dec 4, 2004 Pennsylvania
    Society Trader

    I totally agree with the OP. I really enjoyed that beer and rated it 4.24 which was 12.2% over the average. I absolutely loved it. In this area I'm having a difficult time even finding it on the shelf any more, evidently other people are digging it as well - seems to have sold well. I would be totally happy finding more of it.
  7. Jacobier10

    Jacobier10 Poo-Bah (2,358) Feb 23, 2004 New Jersey

    I'm not going to get into the overrated/underrated debate, but I will say this... I've had Weihenstephaner Festbier each year for the past 6 or 7 years and it was better this year than I ever remember it being. So much though that I felt obligated to edit my review and bump up my rating. In previous years, I remember it being very light bodied for the style. Enjoyable for sure, but lacking the depth of flavor that I found in it this year. Whether it was the beer or just my tastes changing, I don't know. But it was one of the best Oktoberfestbiers I had this year.
  8. unlikelyspiderperson

    unlikelyspiderperson Poo-Bah (1,567) Mar 12, 2013 California
    Society Trader

    You may have already looked at this, but if you go to your "beers" page you can sort your beers by "rDev" and see the beers arranged by how much more or less you rated them compared to the average
    Premo88 and Amendm like this.
  9. beaulabauve

    beaulabauve Disciple (386) Aug 5, 2011 Louisiana

    I think possibly because it’s not a Marzen, and it’s being judged against a different standard; and why festbiers need a separate category.
    shand, Grounder, jdell15 and 8 others like this.
  10. misteil

    misteil Devotee (491) Feb 21, 2019 Ireland

    I don't see how a beer that has some 1800 ratings could be considered objectively underrated, in fact i would go as far as to say that it has a very accurate rating, you just seem to like it more than the average person, which is totally ok, but to declare is underrated given all the data seems unjust.
    beergoot, DCH, Junior and 10 others like this.
  11. thebeers

    thebeers Poo-Bah (3,188) Sep 10, 2014 Pennsylvania
    Society Trader

    I agree that Weihenstephaner produces one of, if not the, best Festbier.

    Most beers on this site aren’t rated to style, and lagers generally get marked down for not being IPAs or Imperial Stouts.

    Add to that that many BAs first experiences with Oktoberfests were Sam Adams, Great Lakes or Ayinger — and the Marzen style becomes what they’re expecting. I suspect that has changed / is changing in recent years though.

    I’m personally against separating out the sub styles though. The benefit of this website is the thoughtful reviews. If you want ratings, there’s another site for that.
    DCH, Shanex, Bitterbill and 4 others like this.
  12. InVinoVeritas

    InVinoVeritas Devotee (443) Apr 16, 2012 Wisconsin

    Can't the near universal statement be "All lagers are underrated on BA scale." You have to apply the non-IPA BA adjuster, generally about 0.5 points haha.
  13. nc41

    nc41 Poo-Bah (2,555) Sep 25, 2008 North Carolina
    Society Trader

    There’s definitely a scoring bias against lagers, no matter how you try and smooth out the rating system guys will still judge them vs IPAs. You know how shitty a stout or ipa would be to rate it an 85? I would think the excitement of these seasonal beers might overcome this scoring bias, doesn’t seem to be the case. I like Fest beers over Marzens, I don’t believe I’ve had one that wasn’t anything less than outstanding. If you rate to style these beers should all be pushing top marks. Weihenstephaner does it as well as anyone, I mean really what could they do to improve that beer? Nothing.
  14. hopfenunmaltz

    hopfenunmaltz Poo-Bah (1,832) Jun 8, 2005 Michigan

    Weihenstefaner Festbier is outstanding. One of my favorite beers.
  15. steveh

    steveh Poo-Bah (2,776) Oct 8, 2003 Illinois

    So, my question is: who are all of these "one post wonders" and why do they swoop in and disappear? Very curious.

    meefmoff, Bitterbill, cjgiant and 3 others like this.
  16. zid

    zid Meyvn (1,222) Feb 15, 2010 New York

    I don't know if I'd call that "countless." Seems to me that that number is 81 at the most. :wink:
    The fact that this beer doesn't embody the character that people here associate with Märzen (or even potentially Oktoberfest for that matter) certainly plays some role in people rating the beer poorly. However, (in my opinion) adding more categories exacerbates the issue rather than actually addressing the root cause. This beer is a golden Festbier Märzen. The problem* isn't the classification, the problem is the way people approach outside classification coupled with the incredibly strange notion of "rating to style"... and then add the entire idea of ranking beers to the mix.

    *When I say "problem," I'm not implying that the specific ranking of Weihenstephaner Festbier is actually a problem. It isn't. I happen to prefer it over almost every beer in that category that I've had with a higher ranking... and there are beers in that category with a lower rating that I like better. That's life (and it's actually a richer life for it).
    #16 zid, Oct 12, 2020
    Last edited: Oct 12, 2020
    Bitterbill, cjgiant and Amendm like this.
  17. PapaGoose03

    PapaGoose03 Poo-Bah (2,833) May 30, 2005 Michigan

    I don't think you're crazy, and I'll bet that if you polled every German brewer that they'd agree these two beers are different styles.
    Bitterbill, nc41 and Amendm like this.
  18. highdesertdrinker

    highdesertdrinker Zealot (526) Nov 5, 2012 Arizona

    Agree that it’s criminally underrated and said so in my review. It bought 3 sixers this year and was looking for another to make it an even case but it seems to be the first of the well known O’fests to sell out this year where I shop so it’s caught on. Still lots of Bitburger which I
    like, too, but it’s no Weihenstephaner.
    Amendm likes this.
  19. Domingo

    Domingo Poo-Bah (2,692) Apr 23, 2005 Colorado

    I fully expected the whole Märzen/Festbier thing to appear here.
    Per what Ron P has repeatedly posted here, Märzen is based on a measure of strength/gravity and isn't tied to a specific color or flavor profile. Festbiers would be a Märzen in that case.
    Festbier seems specifically referencing the pale/stronger being served at the Oktoberfest. Yet most of them aren't actually served at the fest, they're just brewed to be similar. Only six breweries are actually allowed to be there. Weihenstephan isn't one of them. Others (like Giesinger and Ayinger) are brewing the burnt orange variety that we know better over here in the US. The whole thing is kind of messy unless you look at Märzen as strength rather than a style.
    jzeilinger, jonb5, AlcahueteJ and 8 others like this.
  20. Amendm

    Amendm Champion (858) Jun 7, 2018 Rhode Island

    Take a look at Top Rated Beers by styles, most #1 ranked Beers score around 4.00 to 4.25. The #1 ranked IPAs score higher, Heady Topper @ 4.76 and Pliny the Younger @ 4.75.

    From what I've seen, the BA scores are most useful and accurate when dealing with the top ranking Beers. Weihenstephaner's Hefeweissbier Dunkel scores a respectable 4.27, I like the 95 World-Class BA score much better. And there is still room for something better to come along.

    @sburg3 , rate your Beers as you see um.
    Premo88 likes this.
  21. jonphisher

    jonphisher Disciple (347) Aug 9, 2015 New Jersey

    I’ve been preaching all fall how much I love this beer to friends. It’s probably been my favorite beer this year to date. Luckily I still have a six pack at home in the fridge. My rating on here was 4.46 rDev +18%

    Maybe I loved it too much...

  22. nc41

    nc41 Poo-Bah (2,555) Sep 25, 2008 North Carolina
    Society Trader

    I treat them as two separate styles, because they are really kinda 180s from each other with completely different profiles. I prefer the lighter Fest, Marzens for me just come off as being too sweet, and the malts are a bit heavy. Just personal preference. I’m too ignorant on styles to be completely subjective here, I realize my limitations which is why I rarely rate beers, and have little interest in doing so to any real degree. I just give a simple bracket, but it’s still tied to my palate, my likes, my preferences. So I might say that beer is a 4.25 - 4.3, it’s just my impression. It’s disappointing to see a popular AAL rated at 1.8 when it’s clearly just a crisp harmless light lager. It’s not poison. Which is why I’m skeptical about ratings on some styles, most times it just reflects personal preference, but we always have a need to rate and rank thing, sports, beers, restaurants etc.
    #22 nc41, Oct 12, 2020
    Last edited: Oct 12, 2020
  23. MNAle

    MNAle Poo-Bah (1,938) Sep 6, 2011 Minnesota

    Unless you are talking about beer for sale in Germany, that notion of märzen only indicating strength is a non sequitur, especially in the USA. That is most definitely NOT what the term märzen means to USA beer drinkers (or most brewers either). Note the difference labeling for the two different substyles on the Paulaner beers imported into the USA. And, Paulaner is one of the Munich 6.
    IMO, for the American market, stating that in Germany märzen means strength keeps the discussion messy.
  24. MNAle

    MNAle Poo-Bah (1,938) Sep 6, 2011 Minnesota

    Weihenstephan Festbier is an excellent example of the festbier substyle.

    My rating was 3.74, with an rDev -1.1%.

    To my palate, it is a very nice, somewhat strong, somewhat malty, helles. It is not what I look for in an Oktoberfest beer (even though it is closer to what is actually served in the tents at Munich).

    Obviously, others differ. That's OK; better than OK, that's good.
  25. Domingo

    Domingo Poo-Bah (2,692) Apr 23, 2005 Colorado

    I'd say that catering to the US's hazy opinion on what the term does and doesn't mean to them is why we have a dozen sub-styles of IPA (that will likely all be night and day different in 10 years) and people clamoring for "Italian-style Pilsner." Why can't categories be broad? Having a bunch of sub-styles that don't line up with one another is one reason beer styles are so eye-roll worthy right now.
    Bitterbill, zid, Premo88 and 2 others like this.
  26. Alefflicted

    Alefflicted Initiate (99) Dec 2, 2017 Minnesota

    Weihenstephaner festbier is absolutely fantastic, my personal favorite of the style. Ayinger is my favorite Marzen. I generally go through quite a few cases of each throughout Autumn and winter.
    SFACRKnight, Bitterbill and Premo88 like this.
  27. MNAle

    MNAle Poo-Bah (1,938) Sep 6, 2011 Minnesota

    I also do not favor adding a style; hence, the term "substyle". A substyle is just that: a sub-category within the overall style. You bring up AIPAs. Is it also forbidden in your mind to discuss WCIPAs as a separate substyle of the AIPA? Must I consider all manner of AIPAs as one big lump?

    It is helpful in the case of Oktoberfest beers to be able to distinguish the modern strong helles version from the previous strong amber version. Insisting that they are all the same with no way to discuss them is not helpful.
    Bitterbill and Premo88 like this.
  28. nc41

    nc41 Poo-Bah (2,555) Sep 25, 2008 North Carolina
    Society Trader

    I’m the worst on these subjects so my question might seem a bit weird. But, If Weihenstephaner is a tad malty for the style, what Fest do you prefer? If you go less to the malt, and more to the hops how close to a Pils might you go? I’m not talking individual components here, I don’t understand the process, I’m only talking about what I actually get out of the glass.
    Premo88 likes this.
  29. Domingo

    Domingo Poo-Bah (2,692) Apr 23, 2005 Colorado

    I don't mind styles and sub-styles. I just don't care for leaning on the American definition for what it should be. The American craft beer scene is still young and it's wildly fickle. What we call a style this year may not even exist next year. Either that or we'll retroactively re-classify everything. Hence red IPA, white IPA, session IPA, strong pale ale, "American" IPA, etc. We keep trying to over-categorize and revise everything to suit the moment. It wasn't that long ago when IPA's from New England were malty and deep red. I'd venture a guess that more American Oktoberfests were inspired by Samuel Adams than anything in Germany. While that's fine (good for Boston Beer on that), I don't want our fickle opinion getting in the way of something that already exists, but doesn't line up with our reality.
    zid and Premo88 like this.
  30. beaulabauve

    beaulabauve Disciple (386) Aug 5, 2011 Louisiana

    I forgot to add, it is a DAMN GOOD beer!
    jzeilinger and Premo88 like this.
  31. MNAle

    MNAle Poo-Bah (1,938) Sep 6, 2011 Minnesota

    I wasn't clear, sorry. I meant a tad malty for a helles.
    Premo88 and nc41 like this.
  32. nc41

    nc41 Poo-Bah (2,555) Sep 25, 2008 North Carolina
    Society Trader

    Red Oak Helles imo is also a bit malty. I much prefer a clean crisp hop punch, but not too much.

    As to pale Fests what’s your jam?
    Premo88 likes this.
  33. MNAle

    MNAle Poo-Bah (1,938) Sep 6, 2011 Minnesota

    I prefer the maltier, darker märzen substyle. Here's my summary from my review of the Weihenstephan Festbier in the on-line Oktoberfest/Märzen tasting /NBW:

    "Overall, and excellent German lager, but that pretty much also sums up why I prefer the Märzen substyle. While this style may be superior for all day drinking at the Fest, I don't buy these beers (or any beer these days) for that. The so-called Fest substyle just drinks to me like a generic German lager, rather than a seasonal to look forward to."
    nc41 likes this.
  34. cjgiant

    cjgiant Poo-Bah (5,296) Jul 13, 2013 District of Columbia

    @FBarber posts quite a lot, why...

    (oh, this is a case of mis-under-stand-reading-ing, again, isn't it)

    I will state that I like categories being broad - but it seems the people that rate here (yes, overWHELMingly American, and to perhaps play into the point of @misteil) don't prefer the "substyle" of non-Märzen Festbier.

    I do happen to see the discussion here as quite similar to the NE IPA/WC IPA "WTF? is an IPA" discussion. It's fun and frustrating at the same time :slight_smile:
    FBarber likes this.
  35. Malt_Man

    Malt_Man Zealot (576) Jul 4, 2014 England

    It's good, but there are better ones out there. Remember that Weihenstephaner is a Weizen brewery, bottom-fermented biers are not their main product.
  36. steveh

    steveh Poo-Bah (2,776) Oct 8, 2003 Illinois

    This is the exact question I'd like to have answered. I completely understand and respect the discussion that Märzen has evolved into a strength designation in Germany. But then why do Spaten, H-P, and Paulaner all label a specific beer in (what certainly seems to be) a style designation?

    Are they only doing it for export to the U.S. because they know it's what we often expect from an Oktoberfest seasonal? Or (as it appears with such taglines as Ur-Märzen and Traditional Amber Märzen on some labels) is it their nod to tradition?

    I've often said I'd love to hear feedback directly from one of the Munich brewmasters on this oft debated subject. In the meantime, I have no problem enjoying both "sub-styles" each year. They're still my favorites by far.
    AlcahueteJ, PapaGoose03 and MNAle like this.
  37. steveh

    steveh Poo-Bah (2,776) Oct 8, 2003 Illinois

    I don't think they consider themselves strictly a Weizen brewery -- they brew Pilsner, Helles, and Bock beers all the time too.

    Not to mention, all of the Munich breweries brew a Weizen alongside their lagers -- it's a popular style in Bavaria all around.
  38. steveh

    steveh Poo-Bah (2,776) Oct 8, 2003 Illinois

    Only tagged him because he's a moderator.
  39. FBarber

    FBarber Poo-Bah (3,927) Mar 5, 2016 Illinois
    Moderator Society Trader

    LOL, well then. :joy:
    RobertB412, cjgiant and Premo88 like this.
  40. Premo88

    Premo88 Poo-Bah (1,952) Jun 6, 2010 Texas

    I like the way you think. :wink:

    I was going to say 3.8 in the non-American IPA world translates to at least 4.25 in American IPA-adjusted numbers. 3.5 is about a 4.0. 4.25 is about a 5.0. What's funny is we all know it, yet the inflation continues. Or maybe we don't all know it. :thinking_face::thinking_face::thinking_face:

    If I remember Weihenstephan Festbier right, it's almost as bread-malt peachy as a good English pale ale. Great beer. I gave it a 4.16 (+10.1% rDev) in 2015, and it sounds like I would rate it higher if I tried this year's batch.