October-Long Oktoberfest

Friday, October 12, 2007

In recognition of the best holiday save for St. Patrick's Day (I am more Irish than German, after all), I am embarking on an all-Oktoberfest October for beer reviews.

Last week's was the ever-charming Sam Adams Oktoberfest. But for this week, we head to one of Germany's proudest breweries: Hacker-Pschorr, which dates all the way back to 1417.

This lovely German pours a gorgeous light amber color, bordering towards copper. It yielded a thick, off-white, 2-finger head. The lovely, fragrant foamleft a beautiful, small, tight lacing down the glass as it poured down my throat. Under that thick head is a sharp, crystal-clear beer. FOrget seeing the world through rose-colored glasses. I want to see it through Oktoberfest-colored glasses!

The scent of this beer, especially right after the pour, brings tidings of great joy. Great, sweet caramel and toffee right up front and dominant throughout. I caught some mildly sharp fruit like a tart apple, all balanced by a hint of roastiness. I'm sure there was a hop presence in there, but really, my nose was in the mood for the malt.

Man, these Germans can brew. Before I really got into brewing and tasting different beers, my impression of German beers was Heineken and St. Pauli Girl. Boy did I miss a whole universe of big, tasty beers. This offering from Hacker-Pschorr is one of my favorites. It is chock-full of big caramel and sweet malt, which gives the beer the impression of being sugary-sweet. I get some bread crust taste as well; a neutral sweetness to balance what could otherwise be a pretty cloying sweetness. Ah, balance; the true art of German beers. There's the slightest hint of noble hops, earthy and grassy, to lend more counter-point to the malt. But in the true form of this style of beer, it has a beautiful, simple malt flavor. Oktoberfest is all about the malt.

I'd call this beer, despite the maltiness, a medium-light bodied beer, smooth and refreshing. It is a little watery, but I'm not gonna knock it.

While Sammy A certainly offers a well-balanced beer, you just can't beat the source. We sure like the ability of an American brewery to emulate their German forbearers, but if you want to taste what the Germans are quaffing as we speak, go get this beer.

8 comments:

Rickey Henderson 10:59 AM  

Hey Smitty--what have you heard about the joint that does an Octoberfest in Vegas? Rickey will be going there this weekend and was wondering if it was any good, or just a Disneyfied version of the real deal.

Smitty 11:06 AM  

Think a Disney Oktoberfest with lots of flashing lights and girls who aren't quite German wearing leiterhosen that are a little...sexier than they actual German barmaid dresses.

So...not all bad, but not very authentic. Vegas can't pull-off authentic. They can only pull-off overdone.

steves 12:23 PM  

"Vegas can't pull-off authentic. They can only pull-off overdone."

Truer words have never been spoken. Vegas has a really weird vibe to it, and I think you hit on the reason why.

Colin 1:55 PM  

I'm planning on taking the Siebel World Brewing Diploma from Siebel in Chicago in the fall of 2010 Smitty. One of the things I am MOST excited about is being in Munich for the proximity to Hacker-Pschorr, Spaten/Franziskaner, Paulaner, Weihestephaner... And of course those lovely Octoberfest Barmaids as we saw the other day =)

Smitty 2:22 PM  

Colin! Awesome! Best of luck dude! What all does that entail?

Colin 6:29 PM  

A lot =)

http://www.siebelinstitute.com/course_desc/intl_diploma.html

It entails a shit ton of work. Most importantly right now, it requires me to bust my ass homebrewing to gain some more experience and a better appreciation and understanding of the craft. Hmm, education is such rough work =) One lesson at a time, on this latest batch I learned what TOO bitter is...

The World Brewing Diploma is EXHAUSTIVE. Everything from yeast biology and genetics, to packaging and profitable brewing. Everything a brewer could ever need to know to brew and operate a brewery. It's incredible. (And will be paid for thanks to my parents generous donation in the MET(Michigan Education Trust) fund.)

There's 8 weeks at Siebel's Downtown Chicago campus learning everything about Barley from growing it to mashing it, brewing beer including fermenting, storage and packaging, and their Brewing Profitability Workshop.

The part that's most exciting is the 4 weeks in Munich. We start with three weeks of Applied Brewing Techniques, learning from German brewing experts at the Doemens Academy, right down the street from the aforementioned badass World Class German breweries.

The last week (11 days) in Germany is the cool part. I can't even begin to describe it myself, and so I must quote Siebel's site:

“The World Brewing Academy has worked with some of Europe’s largest & best-known breweries and brewing-industry suppliers to create the WBA European Brewing Study Tour. Over the span of two weeks, students will travel throughout Europe to get behind-the-scenes tours of breweries, equipment manufacturers, and product suppliers. English-language instructional sessions will be conducted throughout this program by our World Brewing Academy instructional team, preparing students to get the most out of their visits.

Those participating in this program will travel with the students of the 12-week WBA Diploma program, creating a diverse, dynamic, and fun learning experience. The tour will travel through Germany and several other European countries, allowing students to experience a wide range of international brewing techniques and technologies.”
(the description is for if you take this alone, it's included in the WBA Diploma)

I'm so flippin' stoked I can't even begin to describe it. I've got the opportunity of a lifetime in my MET account, and a chance to use it to go to the ULTIMATE school and travel to Europe at the same time.

One other thing I really want to do before I go... is learn German. It may not be easy, but I think I'll have a much better time, learn more, and be more respectful if I at least try to learn their language. I've got a copy of The Rosetta Stone's German disc, so we'll see if it's as effective as it claims to be.

Of course, the hard part is not getting the education... it's what I do after that! Likely I'll be going back to my current job and filling out as many brewing applications as I can get my grubby hands on! I'll take a job with Anheuser-Busch if it gets me in a brewery! In a perfect world, I'd work for Spaten/Franziskaner =)

Smitty 7:21 AM  

Colin! Dude! To say I am both jealous and completely enthused about your upcoming ordeal is an understatement!!

The rest of us here at the Keg would be proud if you would continue to contribute and add a new dimension of beer and beer appreciation to this site.

Totally, totally cool, Colin. ONly about 2 years away...

Mike 1:39 PM  

Oktoberfest beer & German barmaids. Sign me up.

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