Archive | September 2011

The Most Authentic Marzen? — Spaten Oktoberfest

A woman I know from Germany always gets a case of this when she celebrates Oktoberfest here in the States, so I figure this is one of the most authentic ones we get in the States. Woot, woot.

Pours clear, slightly brown-orange, with a thick white creamy head that dissipates about halfway pretty quickly but leaves amazing lacing. Aroma is sweet, with a grainy kind of quality. Not in that cheap macro sense, but like a really nice multi-grain bread. The term “liquid bread” was invented for these kinds of beers.

Flavor is much the same, very grainy and bready with a slightly sweet aftertaste. Goes down smooth and very easily. The sweetness is balanced nicely by the roasty bitterness on the back of the tongue. This is one of those Oktoberfests that I tried for the first time three or four years ago and didn’t really care for, but every year I appreciate it more.

Beyond the Pour grade: A

By the way, I know I’ve been using these text reviews for a lot of Oktoberfests, but I really don’t want to bother shooting videos of beers that are really very similar, but I still want to do some kind of review process for these. Once this season is done I’ll be varying my text reviews here a lot more.

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Oud Beersel Oude Geuze Vielle (Video)

My very first geuze, reviewed via skype collaboration with Jamison. Is is definitely NOT his first geuze, so we definitely came to this one from different places even though we landed at a similar rating.

I let this video run a little longer than usual since I thought people might be interested in seeing me process my first unblended lambic.

Beyond the Pour grade: A

The Very Definition of Quaffable — Great Lakes Oktoberfest

It’s cold enough outside that I’m wearing my hoodie inside. Also, I don’t want to have to run my heater if I don’t have to. Which means that it’s just about perfect weather to review an Oktoberfest. Since we just got in this example from Great Lakes, I figured it’d be a nice one to review.

Pours a light amber color, tons of carbonation from the bottom of the glass, with a thin white head. Given how much headspace there is in a half liter mug when you’re only pouring in a 12oz beer, I could have definitely poured more vigorously. Live and learn.

A 12oz pour of Oktoberfest doesn't look very impressive in a half-liter Weihenstephan mug, does it?

Smells sweet, malty, with that slight grainy fruitiness that you get with some sweeter lagers. Reminds me a bit of Yuengling. Otherwise clean. Flavor is much drier than the aroma, with a nice biscuity and bready finish and aftertaste. The sweetness up front meshes well with the cracker dryness on the back end.

It’s an Oktoberfest. There’s really not much to say. It’s a pretty standard example of the style, but a good example. Tastes authentically German. Definitely worth trying.

Beyond the Pour grade: B+

Is Lagunitas the Offspring of Craft Beer? — Lagunitas Lucky 13.alt

How grapefruity can an IPA get?

The only difference between this bottle and the regular? The color of her hair.

Okay, so BeerAdvocate calls this an American Strong Ale instead of an Imperial IPA, but that’s just pedantic at this point. I’d believe that the slightly darker “regular” Lucky 13 is an American Strong Ale, as it’s just a big hoppy imperial amber, one of a whole slew of big hoppy ambers made by Lagunitas. This one, lighter in color to the point of being bright orange, is clearly “just” an Imperial IPA.

So whatever. Let’s review it as such.

Pours very transparent, light orange, with a steady stream of carbonation from the bottom of the glass. Thick billowy white head. Smells very strongly of grapefruit. Lots of malt sweetness and a bit of alcohol on top of that.

Flavor is more alcoholic than expected, with a significant “burn” on the way down. Nice grapefruity hops give sweetness and a nice abrasive bitter “bite” on the tip of the tongue.

Here’s my thing with Lagunitas — their beers almost always taste really good, but they’re very samey and one note. Which was always my issue with the nineties alternapop band Offspring — once you’ve heard “Self Esteem” you’ve basically heard everything through “Pretty Fly For a White Guy” and beyond. (Which, yeah, shows how old and out of touch I am when I’m making Offspring references when reviewing beer.) Lagunitas’s beers are good, but ultimately I just can’t work myself up to any real passion for them. The price is right, though — this bomber cost me less than five bucks.

The alcohol is a bit overwhelming on this one, which knocks it down half a letter grade or so.

Beyond the Pour grade: B

Is any beer more joyous than a sessionable Belgian — Brewery Vivant Solitude (Video)

Brewery Vivant cans three beers. This is the second I’ve reviewed. It’s an abbey ale, and I use the word “fun” to describe it. Aren’t you at least a little bit curious?

Beyond the Pour grade: B

Three Floyds Zombie Dust — Best American Pale Ale EVER? (Video)

I’ve taken a few days off from shooting vids which is why this one is a bit choppy in the editing. It’s like riding a bike, though — you never really forget once you learn.

Shana and I stopped off at Three Floyds on our way back from Chicago on Friday, and I think I discovered the single best American Pale Ale on the market.

Beyond the Pour grade: A+

Is It Fair To Formally Review Bad Beers From New Breweries?

I just sat down to review Back Forty Blind Pig Pale Ale for the vlog, and got as far as aroma before feeling that something was very “off” about the product. Strong syrupy sweetness, off-aromas (and flavors), and just a generally “homebrew” kind of quality, not the kind I’d anticipate from a professional brewer.

Normally I’d have gone ahead and done the review anyway, but since Back Forty was only founded a couple of years ago, and has only been bottling at their current location for a few months, I stopped the review. There are all kinds of reasons that a new brewery might not be making excellent beer, and getting a bottling line up, running, and perfected is a herculean task. I’ve tasted this kind of syrupy sourness from several brand new breweries playing around with bottles for the first time, and in many cases those kinks get worked out as the makers stretch their legs a bit.

So yeah, for me, I feel it’s a bit unfair to review the beer in this state. Sure, if it’s being sold commercially I have the right to talk about its shortcomings, but beating up on a new brewery while they’re still getting up and running just feels mean-spirited. Especially reviewing for Youtube, where my review would likely be the only one posted for months or years, and even after their hypothetical issues are corrected the video would likely still stand.

Maybe I’ll pick up some more of this beer next time I’m down south and give it another shot. If it still tastes like this in a year or two, it’s worth giving the knowledge out. But for now… not so much.

This blog post? Well, maybe someone at the brewery will see it and know that there are some technical issues with their beer. And if this is how they intend the beer to taste, then next time I have it I’ll give it the low grade it deserves.

I’d love to get some feedback on this issue if anyone’s interested.