Doctoring Beer

After finding out that my tongue was intact, I didn’t want to throw away the remaining Stella and Heineken, but neither did I want to drink them. So I decided to doctor them with Pimms after seeing the idea floated on Twitter.

It turns out that lime cordial or lemonade aren’t the only things you can use to turn macro lager into something that’s vaguely palatable. The French have a thing called Picon bière, which is a flavoured bitters, that is drunk as an apéritif to accompany beer in the East and North of the country. While Pimms being a fruit cup, isn’t strictly a bitters, it does have similar qualities, evidently (I’m not sure I’ve ever had bitters before, so don’t actually know). After Yvan wondered aloud on Twitter about using Pimms in beer, I had to give it a go and see what it was like.

As we had the majority of two large bottles of Stella and Heineken left over from our, not so, blind tasting, it was the perfect opportunity to see if either would be improved with a dash of Pimms. It's not worth it, really, it's not... I did consider buying some lime cordial, but thought that might bring back too many memories of being seventeen and drinking Skol and lime; a time I’d rather forget about, if I’m being honest.

I did try doctoring a whole bottle of Budvar, but I put too much Pimms in and to be honest, it wasn’t very nice, as the Pimms trampled over everything. I found that even with Pimms added to the Stella, it was still pretty rank, but turning it into a shandy with a load of lemonade at least made it drinkable. I didn’t try putting Pimms into the Heineken, as it was drinkable as a lager tops, so it seemed like a waste of Pimms to doctor it further.

So yes, it looks like you can use Pimms to pep up an otherwise underwhelming macro lager. To be honest though, it seem a rather expensive and convoluted way of drinking beer. It would be a lot simpler and easier to just buy better beer to start with.

“Have they had their tongues cut out?”

According to a flurry of media reports at the backend of last week, drinkers can’t tell the difference between Stella, Heineken and Budvar. Obviously this didn’t go down too well with the folks in České Budějovice and they responded by questioning whether the mere 138 participents used in the blind-taste test had “had their tongues cut out?”.

Always one for a challenge, I decided to see if I could tell the difference between the three and seeing as how I already had a bottle of Budvar in the fridge, it was just a matter of purchasing the other two from a local supermarket. Now, I don’t have proper blind tasting equipment, black glasses, rooms with red lights, etcetera, so all I could do was get my wife to pour the three of them for me so I didn’t know which one was which.

If you’re going to try this yourself, I wouldn’t recommend having all three poured and lined up like I did, as you can tell which is which just by looking at them. The Stella is anemic and the lightest of the three, while the Budvar has the deepest colour and the Heineken is the one with the most bubbles. I tried to ignore how they looked and just tried to concentrate on how they smelled and tasted.

Surprisingly there wasn’t much to differentiate them on aroma, especially the Heineken and Budvar. Taste wise it was obvious which one was the Stella, it was much thinner and didn’t taste like something you’d want to actually drink. C, B, A... I was surprised by the Heineken, it was actually quite drinkable and I think if I’d done a proper blind-taste, I might have struggled initially to separate it from the Budvar. Having said that, for me, Budvar has more body than the other two and doesn’t get noticeably nastier the more you drink of it.

I’m pleased to say that, while it wasn’t exactly a proper blind test, I correctly identified the three glasses that were in front of me. Did I learn anything though? Yes, Stella really is quite nasty, Heineken smells pretty much the same as Budvar and is quite nice in small quantities and that I’d much rather drink Budvar than the other two any day of the week.

Paris

I was going to write a blow by blow account of my trip to Paris last December, but instead I’m just going to skim through everywhere we went. I’d written down most of what we go up to on the Friday, but to be honest, it was a load of crap. So here’s my thought on all the places we visited over the weekend of December 2nd to 4th:

The Eurostar
The main benefit of getting the Eurostar, is that you can take your own beer with you, as there’s not the same security restrictions as going by plane. I took a four pack of Punk IPA cans, packed carefully into a small cool bag along with an ice pack. If you don’t want to take your own beer, then you can always buy cold beer from Sourced Market in St Pancras. I bought some Camden Town bottles on the way back and should really have bought some of The Kernel bottles they had on the way out, as they’d gone by the Sunday afternoon.

If you don’t take your own beer and get thirsty on the train, it’s €5 for a can of Stella, you know taking your own makes sense…

The Frog & Rosbif, 116 Rue Saint-Denis
This was our first port of call, mainly as I’d heard varying reports about the quality of the beer and didn’t want to come here later on and be disappointed. At first glance, it looked pretty much like a British pub, but there was certain things that meant you could tell it was a pastiche. All the bumf on the tables and walls was in English, which was a bit weird and gave me the impression that this was a pub for foreigners, rather than locals.

I had a pint of the Maison Blanche, served with slice of lemon. I thought it was pretty forgettable and less interesting than Hoegaarden, which says a lot. Phil had a pint of Parislytic, which we both agreed was a nitro keg horror show. Neither of us noticed that they actually had a single hand pull in the midst of all the keg fonts, a pint of that might have been a better option. They had free wi-fi and we managed to sit next to a wall socket, so I could charge my phone.

HTB Hall’s Beer Tavern, 68 Rue Saint-Denis
The bar is on the right as you walk in, with a row of tables along the left hand wall, after a bit, it opens out into a back room full of tables. It reminded me a lot of those thin American bars you get in big cities. We plonked ourselves down opposite the bar, next to a plug socket, so I could continue charging my phone and pursued the beer menu. It was extensive, but contained nothing to quicken the heart, being comprised of major multinational brands and a load of Belgian stuff. Keg fonts for La Chouffe, Delirium Tremens and Chimay nested cheek and jowl with fonts for Carling Black Label, you get the idea.

I had a pint of La Chouffe, Phil had a pint of Chimay Triple, both were served in branded pint glasses, shame the brands were for different beer, think of a well known Irish stout brand. I’m assuming they keep the correct branded glasses for those drinking out of bottles. The main reason we didn’t drink from bottles was the cost, it was significantly cheaper to have a pint, than have two bottles. They also had free wi-fi, which was nice, but I didn’t really feel comfortable and welcome in the place and I can’t really put my finger on why.

La Cave à Bulles, 45 Rue Quincampoix
Just a quick note on this place, as I want to go into it a bit more in a separate blog post. One thing you’ll realise as you trawl all the Paris bars, is the lack of French beer, this shop practically redresses the balance all on its own. Run by a friendly and jovial chap called Simon, we ran all the places we were going to visit past him and he made a few suggestions. The main one being ditch the planned crawl and buy some tickets to a beer festival on a boat, so we did.

Au Trappiste, 4 Rue St Denis
With a name like Au Trappiste, you sort of know what kind of beer you’re going to get, before you cross the threshold. With 20 taps and an extensive bottle menu, this place majors in selling Belgian beer, in fact, I can’t remember if it sold anything else. Clad almost head to toe in wood, with matching wooden tables and chairs, it felt a bit like being in a wooden lodge, all be it, a cheap one with loads of cheap looking lighted colour panels on the walls.

We decided to eat here, but with a menu not exactly welcoming vegetarians, I plumped for a large plate of chips and a tub of mayonnaise, which went perfectly with my pint of Lindemans Gueuze, so that was me sorted. We ate upstairs, which felt a bit like eating in a wooden McBurger franchise, it was just a bit weirdly sterile for my tastes.

We ended coming back here later, so I had another pint of gueuze, this time instead of a nice dimpled mug, I got a branded pint glass, again the brand was for a well known Irish beverage. All the branded glassware looked like it was saved for those drinking from bottles, but just like Hall’s Beer Tavern, if you were having more than one, this worked out more expensive than a pint of draught.

The staff also seemed pretty incompetent when it came to change a keg, my gueuze ran out mid pour and it took nearly ten minutes of faffing and multiple members of staff to change it.

Les Soirées Maltées – Les Bières de Noël 2011, Bateau Six Huit, 33 Quai de Montebello
I’m only going to mention this briefly, as I want to cover it it in a separate blog post. However, it’s not often you get to go to a beer festival in a foreign country, let alone one on a boat in the shadow of Notre Dame.

Le Sous Bock Tavern, 49 Rue Saint-Honoré
We headed here after the beer festival for a nightcap before heading back to the hotel. This was one of the bars that Simon in La Cave à Bulles had said to avoid, so we approached with some trepidation. It wasn’t quite pitch black inside, but it wasn’t far off, with only some weird purple black light kind of things illuminating the interior. We walked along the bar to check out what beer they had, but to be honest, we just turned round and walked out. There was nothing on that we couldn’t have got from Hall’s Beer Tavern or Au Trappist and since both of them were slightly more welcoming, being properly illuminated and quiet, we left and headed back to Au Trappist. This place seems to get good reviews on all the rating sites, so your mileage may vary, but on this night we weren’t impressed.

La Gueuze, 19 Rue Soufflot
Saturday dawned all blustery and drizzly, so we headed to here to get some lunch and some gueuze. When we go there the door was locked, but after a quite shake, the proprietor came and opened up, it wasn’t like we were early or anything it being after their official opening time. The style of the place was a bit of a mish mash, with lots of wood like Au Trappist, but a similar layout to Hall’s Beer Tavern, with some seating at the front and down the side of the bar, before opening out into a large light and airy back room.

After perusing the menu, which was unsurprisingly pretty crap for vegetarians, we decided not to eat there, as it wasn’t very cheap and didn’t sound particularly great. I ordered a bottle of Mort Subite, which was pleasant enough and Phil had a bottle of Cantillon Rosé de Gambrinus. The cork on Phil’s bottle didn’t come out cleanly and instead of using a cloth to get the bits out of the neck, he just stuck his finger in and wiped them off. We didn’t stay for a second drink…

Godjo, 8 Rue de l’École Polytechnique
I’m mentioning this very, very compact Ethiopian restaurant, not because we drank any beer, we didn’t, but because the food was sensational. We were originally going to come here for dinner on the Friday night, but got side tracked by the beer festival, I’m really glad we hunted it out and came for lunch on the Saturday. Ethiopian food is all about sharing, but since Phil eats dead animals, I wasn’t about to share a plate, so had one all to myself and I’m so glad I did, the lentils were to die for. If you’re going to go, I’d try and book a table (if you can), as there’s hardly enough room to swing a cat inside.

On the way there we passed an English theme pub called The Bombardier, which was selling what looked like keg Bombardier and Directors, we paused by on the other side of the road…

Brewberry, 18 Rue Pot de Fer
Our second last port of call was to this compact shop cum bar, which if I’m being honest, would have been our only port of call if we come to it first. Selling beer from all over the world, but majoring in European breweries, its main advantage over La Cave à Bulles, is that you can drink beer on the premises. It’s such a great wee place, that it will get a blog post all of its own.

After Brewberry, we headed back to La Cave à Bulles for a meet the brewer with La Brasserie du Mont Salève, which I’ll cover in a later blog. After that, we had to attend a black tie dinner on the Saturday evening and caught the Eurostar just after lunch on the Sunday, so there wasn’t really any further opportunity to explore.

I feel like we only scratched the surface of beer in Paris, but at the same time, I feel like we also hit the two most important places and if I went again, I probably wouldn’t go anywhere other than La Cave à Bulles and Brewberry. For my money, Paris is far too fixated on the major multinational brands and anything that comes out of Belgium. It could really do with a few more outlets for French craft beer, as that’s what I really wanted to drink and apart from Brewberry, we really didn’t get the chance, as none of the bars were stocking it. Don’t get me wrong, I like a Lambic or Trappist ale as much as the next man, but sometimes I just want to try the local beer and apart from Brewberry, nowhere could deliver on that simple need.

So if you’re heading to Paris and want to drink some French beer, head to Brewberry. If you want to bring back some French beer, then head to La Cave à Bulles as well. Until someone opens something like CASK Pub & Kitchen or The Craft Beer Co. in Paris, these two places are your best opportunity to try really good artisan French beer.

In Pyraser Of Pilsner

I started this blog as I was stuck in a rut, week in week out I was buying and drinking the same beers from the local supermarket. I’d like to think that in the two years since I started this blog, things have changed, they certainly had last year judging from the stock take that I did. I’m not doing a similar stock take this year, probably, not because I think it will show me reverting to my old behaviour or anything, more that things have changed.

There has been a seismic shift in my mental state about my obsession with beer, I’ll be covering it in another blog. It centres around The Box Of Delights Demons that I have at the Bacchanalia and how that and other factors have created a self sustaining cycle of destructive behaviour. That blog will be necessarily dark, this one should be the complete opposite, as it’s about an awakening, basically the realisation that I like lager*.

I’m not sure when this new found love of Pilsner has come from, it’s sort of sneaked up on me a bit. It’s not like I’ve never drank lager though, although I think we can except the Skol & Lime from my later teenage years from this discussion. Till now, it’s mainly been bottles of Budvar, Karen, my wife, got me into that as we sat on various Cambridge commons and greens on balmy summers evenings when we first got together. I tried others, but I didn’t really get on with Pilsner Urquell, really, really didn’t get on with Staropramen and pretty much hated everything that came out of Germany, especially Jever.

I suppose I can trace the tipping point, to the day I bought some Bernard Nefiltrovaný ležák for Karen at The Euston Tap. Of course I had a sip and was blown away at the amount of flavour that it contained. When I found myself back in The Euston Tap a couple of months later, it was one of the first beers I went for before getting stuck in on the stronger stuff. Since then I’ve been buying copious quantities of Pilsner, both filtered and unfiltered, in bottles from the Bacchanalia whenever they’ve had some in stock.

Stand outs for me this year have to be Italia, the Thornbridge collaboration with Birrificio Italiano, Brewers & Union Unfiltered Lager by Collective São Gabriel and Hopfenpflücker Pils by Pyraser. The later I’ve really been taken with and while we speed head long into Winter and strong, dark beer territory, I for one wont be giving up on the Pilsner in the coming months. I’m really looking forward to next Spring when our extension is complete and I can sit with the doors open and enjoy a cool, clean flavoursome, preferably, unfiltered Pilsner, with the evening breeze wafting into the house.

* I’m of course not talking about any old Lager, you wont suddenly see me necking cans of Carling or Stella any time soon…

How Bad Can It Be…? Cerveza Quilmes

In an effort to not take myself too seriously, I’ve decided to do a new series in the blog. I’ve always wondered just how bad a lot of the beers that are on sale in the UKs supermarkets are. Do they really deserve the abuse they get from the geeks? I thought I should find out.

First up is Argentina’s best selling beer, Cerveza Quilmes, evidently it has a 75% market share, according to Wikipedia. Wikipedia also reveals that it’s owned by everyones favourite international brewing behemoth, AB InBev, I shouldn’t be surprised really. It comes in 970ml bottles and can be your for the princely sum of £3.45, which works out at about £1.78 per 500ml.

It poured a crystal clear light piss yellow with a fluffy white head that didn’t last. Although it did leave a small ring of foam round the edge of the glass. I wasn’t sure what it smelt off, I didn’t really get anything. My wife reckoned that it smelt of citrus though, lemon in particular.

It was quite lighted bodied, without too much of a taste about it. There was a slight sweetness and vague lemony flavour, but no bitterness or hint of hops. There was also a slight cereal type note to the flavour as well, which I noticed after a bit. The after taste was mainly very subtle watery lemon.

It wasn’t bad, but I wouldn’t say to was good either, no real flavour and no bitterness. Would I buy it again? In a word, no, so I’ll leave the final thought to Zak Avery:

https://twitter.com/#!/ZakAvery/status/110079697051860994

Shouting lager, lager, lager, lager…

There was an article in Sunday’s Observer, I say article, it was more of an infomercial for Tesco than an actual article. Titled “After real ale, brewers cash in on trend for ‘real lagers’“, it caused rather a lot of brewers, beer geeks and other assorted twitterers to spit their cornflakes out in disgust. According to the article, the lager industry is mounting a fight back against real ale and imported US craft brews are leading the charge.

Evidently Tesco is to launch four of the most popular; Blue Moon, Sierra Nevada Pale Ale (SNPA), Goose Island IPA and Brooklyn Lager. Blue Moon is of course brewed by Coors that well know small brewer and is a wheat beer, so not a lager. Goose Island are now owned by the behemoth that is AB InBev and again an IPA is not a lager. Similarly SNPA is not a lager and has been stocked by Tesco for a while now, so hardly being launched. Even Brooklyn Lager wouldn’t be classed as a lager by the majority of UK lager drinkers, it’s brown for a start.

It’s like the person who wrote the article just copied down what they’d been sent by Tesco and didn’t bother checking any facts. Then there’s the quote from Iain Loe of CAMRA, I really hope that isn’t what he said, as it makes no sense to me. Even if he was talking about US craft beer, it still makes no sense as the British brewing scene of older years didn’t brew anything like the Americans are brewing at the moment.

If the Observer article wasn’t bad enough, Robert Marshall then tweeted the following just before lunch time:

https://twitter.com/#!/RobGMarshall/status/105230405380214784

So not only is SNPA being called a lager again (the clue is in the name Pale ALE), but Innis and Gunn Rum Cask is now a lager too! I’d love to know which hops impart a smooth creamy taste, while that’s what you might get from the diacetyl bomb that is any Innis and Gunn beer, SNPA certainly isn’t smooth and creamy. I had a look in one of my local Tesco stores for the offending sign, I’d taken a marker pen to correct it, but they didn’t have one on display.

It seems to me that someone at Tesco who, on this evidence, doesn’t know anything about beer, has cobbled together a press release to advertise the fact that they’re now stocking some US beer. At the same time, they’ve produced some point of sale signage that hasn’t been checked by anyone with a clue. Then the Observer has rephrased the press release and again, not had it checked by anyone who knows anything about beer. Depressing beyond words.

We keep getting told that one of the barriers that stops people from getting into beer, is the lack of good clear information. Point of sale signage and articles like this, that are so technically wrong are not going to help matters.

Oktoberfest: Round-Up

I quite enjoyed trying the six Munich breweries Oktoberfest beers last week. However, I’m in no real hurry to try them again any time soon, they didn’t contain enough hops. This is a short post to summarise what I learned and to place the six beers into some sort of preference order.

  • One brewery serves their beer from individual wooden casks at the Oktoberfest: Augustiner Bräu

Most importantly, doing this reinforced my dislike for sweet, pale and no very bitter lagers. You only get one life and to be honest, I’d rather be drinking some over the top US West Coast IPA than a Maßkrug of Spaten. If I did find myself at the Oktoberfest, here’s my order of preference:

  1. Paulaner Hefe-Weißbier
  2. Paulaner Oktoberfest Bier
  3. Hacker-Pschorr Oktoberfest Märzen
  4. Hofbräuhaus Oktoberfestbier
  5. Löwenbräu Oktoberfestbier
  6. Augustiner Bräu Oktoberfest Bier
  7. Spaten Oktoberfestbier

As you can see, I’d rather drink weißbier than I would the seasonal Oktoberfest bier’s. Which puts me in an interesting position as it’s the 4th Cambridge CAMRA Octoberfest this weekend and I’m working all day Saturday. I’m just hoping the Oktoberfest style beers from the UK brewers are more interesting and to my taste than their original German counterparts.

Oktoberfest: Löwenbräu

What do I know about Löwenbräu…? It was big in the eighties and we found out the other day that it’s now owned by AB InBev, but other than that I don’t really know that much about it. I can remember seeing it quite a bit of the Löwenbräu Original lager when I was younger, but I can’t say that ever tried or, or that I’ve seen any lately.

Löwenbräu OktoberfestbierLöwenbräu‘s history starts in the 14th century with some sort of beer being dispensed from a pub called Zum Löwen (The Lion’s Inn), according to Wikipedia. The Löwenbräu website just mentions a Löwenbrauerei from this period, but does mention that in the 16th century the first written documentation of a brewer in that part of Munich.

We have to wait until the 18th century for the first mention of the name, Löwenbräu, though. Evidently it appeared in the Biersudverzeichnis of Munich, I have no idea what the Biersudverzeichnis is and neither does Google translate, but I’m assuming it’s a list of breweries or something.

In the early 19th century a George Brey acquires the brewery and his between him and his descendants, they run it for fifty odd years until it’s turned into a public company. During this time, the brewery is quite successful it get bigger and moves to a new home. They also get permission to brew a Bock during this time, evidently they were pioneers in the strong beer sector.

According to Wikipedia the brewery site is flattened by an Ailed air raid during World War II. The Löwenbräu website only mentions that raw ingredients were limited during World War I and thus the original gravity of the beer dropped, there is no mention of World War II.

It’s during the early seventies that Löwenbräu strikes out for global domination, with beer being exported and brewed under license in the US and the UK amongst other places. Their website says that all licensed brewing was carried out in accordance to the Reinheitsgebot, but the Wikipedia article states that in the US there was corn in the grain bill and thus a noticeable difference in taste.

As I stated at the start, Löwenbräu merged with Spaten-Franziskaner-Bräu in 1997 and are now part of the AB InBev behemoth. They have also supplied beer to the Oktoberfest, every year since 1810, which is pretty cool.

The Oktoberfestbier poured a really insipid yellow, this is the colour I was expecting them all to be and for my tastes, it’s not really a particularly inviting colour. A big white fluffy head was easily formed during the pour, although it dropped to a blotchy covering fairly quickly. It didn’t smell of much that I could detect. There was maybe a hint of maltiness hiding at the edges, but overall the smell was pretty bland.

Taste wise, I didn’t feel it was as full bodied as the Spaten or the Paulaner, which I found surprising as it’s marginally the strongest we’ve had so far. While it might not have felt so big, it was just as sweet. There was a bit of bitterness that came through, but it faded and the after taste was mainly sweet. It’s certainly got more bitterness than the Spaten, but definitely less than the Paulaner.

Overall I thought this one was a bit thin and lacking, I’d rather drink the Paulaner and possibly even the Spaten over this.

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.

Oktoberfest: Spaten

According to the source of all that is correct, that would be Wikipedia, Spaten started life at some point during the 14th century. Evidently the first record of the brewery that would become Spaten was made in 1397, which be any standard is quite a long time ago. In 1854 the brewery moved to its current location and soon became the largest brewery in Munich.

Spaten OktoberfestbierIn the early 1920’s Spaten-Brauerei and Franziskaner-Leist-Bräu merged to form Spaten-Franziskaner-Bräu and continued in this form until the 1990’s when it merged again. This time it formed the Spaten-Löwenbräu-Gruppe with another famous Munich brewery, that of
Löwenbräu AG. You might think that it would still be in this guise, but you’d be wrong and this surprised me greatly, as they were sold to InterBrew in 2003. Which means that the Spaten brand is currently owned by the behemoth that is AB InBev.

Finding out that at least two of the Oktoberfest beers are produced by AB InBev disappointed me, I expected all six breweries to be operating as individual entities. Probably an overly romantic view of German breweries I grant you and probably a bit naive considering the size and reach of AB InBev. I just hope that the other four aren’t all members of the same family as Spaten and Löwenbräu as I’d rather not line AB InBev pockets with any of my hard earned cash.

It was a with mild trepidation that I poured the beer into a standard pint glass, I don’t own a Maßkrug, or even a dimpled pint mug which would have been the closest I could have managed. The main reason for the trepidation is that I’m not a lager drinker, so I was expecting some sort of undrinkable pale fizzy piss, if I’m being honest.

There was a definite smell of grassy hops during the pour, although these appeared to have all escaped by the time I stuck my nose in the glass. I can say it smelt fresh, but that’s about it. The head was a light fluffy white and easily formed, it dropped relatively quickly to a blotchy covering.

The colour wasn’t exactly what I was expecting, it was slightly darker than pale piss, but not by much. Having said that, I asked my wife what the colour was and she replied, without hesitation, piss. So your mileage may vary.

I was quite surprised by the taste, it was fuller bodied than I was expecting, with a slightly sweet after taste. It wasn’t particularly bitter, definitely not bitter enough to counteract the sweetness that seemed to intensify the further down the pint I got. It wasn’t as carbonated as I was expecting either, I thought there would be more bubbles, if there had been, maybe the sweetness wouldn’t have started to grate.

If I was drinking this at the Wiesn, I could probably drink a couple, but I think the sweetness and lack of bitterness would become too much for me.

You can read more about Spaten on the Spaten-Franziskaner-Bräu Wikipedia page, or there is the AB InBev Spaten site, in both German and US English.