Oktoberfest: Paulaner

Paulaner Oktoberfest BierYesterday’s Oktoberfest beers come from the Paulaner Brauerei, which is part of Brau Holding International AG, more on that later. The first recorded mention of the Paulaner brewery come in the form of a letter from Munich private breweries to the town council. They are complaining about the competition from the monks at the Neudeck ob der Au monastery. The Paulaner website claims this is the first official documentation of the brewery.

In 1799 the Neudeck ob der Au monastery is dissolved and the brewery is briefly leased to the state. Franz Xaver Zacherl acquires the brewery in 1806 and modernises and expands it. In 1921 the brewery acquires share holdings in three local breweries and in 1928 merges with Gebrüder Thomas Brauerei to form Paulaner Salvator Thomasbräu.

In 1985 more companies are merged, including Hacker-Pschorr Bräu and Auerbräu AG Rosenheim (one of the companies they took a shareholding in earlier). So this means that along with Spaten and Löwenbräu being owned by the same corporation, Paulaner and Hacker-Pschorr are owned by the same corporation. So while I was expecting six individual brewing companies, after two beers I find that four of the beers are shared between two.

This is not the end of the name changing and merging though, in 1994 they change name from Paulaner Salvator Thomasbräu to Paulaner Brauerei AG. They then expand again in 1996 by acquiring Furstliche Brauerei Thurn un Taxis Regensburg and form the Thurn un Taxis Vertriebsgesellschaft mbH. I’m not sure what happens between then and 1999, but according to the Paulaner website, they change names again from Paulaner Aktiengesellschaft to Paulaner GmbH und Co. KG. Wikipedia also thinks they acquired the Kulmbacher Brauerei group in 1994, either way, it’s a lot of merging and renaming and it’s still not finished.

Paulaner Hefe-WeißbierBoth the Paulaner website and Wikipedia now have the Paulaner brand as being owned by Brau Holding International AG, which is a joint venture with Heineken NV. The Paulaner website doesn’t say who the other party is in the joint venture, so you have to assume that’s Paulaner GmbH und Co. KG, but Wikipedia says that it’s Schörghuber Ventures, who ever they are. So the upshot is that another two of Munich’s six Oktoberfest beers are, at least in part, owned by one of the largest brewery groups in the world. I know I shouldn’t be surprised after finding out that Spaten are owned by AB InBev, but it’s still a tad depressing.

I was hoping that the Paulaner Oktoberfest Bier would be different enough from the Spaten Oktoberfest and I wasn’t disappointed. It poured a light golden colour, with a large fluffy head that dropped fairly quickly to a blotchy covering. I’m beginning to think that this look might be the same between all six beers, but we’ll wait and see.

Similarly to the Spaten, it smelt fresh, but unlike the Spaten there were hints of grass and a caramel sweetness that was just lurking in the shadows. In all a much better olfactory experience than the Spaten..

Initially I thought the taste was similar to the Spaten, it’s quite full bodied with a sweetness that lingers. However, the Paulaner has quite a bit of extra bitterness that manages to keep the majority of the sweetness in check. There was also a certain fruitiness that was quite mouth watering and refreshing the further I got through the bottle. Again it’s wasn’t particularly fizzy, the carbonation was relatively low, meaning it was quite smooth.

Special Oktoberfest beer isn’t all you get on the Wiesn, in the Weinzelt tent, at least according to Wikipedia, you can also get wine and Paulaner Weißbier. So I decided I’d have to have a bottle of Paulaner Hefe-Weißbier as well, if I’m to do this properly.

It poured a cloudy orange amber colour with a large fluffy head, as you’d expect from a cloudy wheat beer, the head soon dropped to a good covering though. The nose was all banana bread and yeast, there could be cloves in there, but I’m suffering from a slightly blocked nose at the moment. Taste wise, it’s quite light and refreshing, almost too light though, if you were being mean you could almost say watery. Again the main flavours are of banana bread and cloves with a yeastiness that lingers long into the after taste.

I have to say that I was very impressed with the Oktoberfest Bier, I could drink far more of it that I could of the Spaten. Having said that, I could drink the Hefe-Weißbier all day and all night, it’s seriously refreshing and right up my street.

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