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Octoberfest beers

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Bluesman and I tasted a flight of 9 different Octoberfest beers last weekend and it was certainly an eye opener. The folowing are what we tasted:

Lancaster Brewing
Clipper City

The German's all had a spiciness (late hop flavor?)(except for Beck's) that was missing in the American versions. I attribute that to the type of hops used. The Beck's tasted more like a pilsner than an Ofest (way too bitter for style, no late hop flavor). The American versions had the malt flavor (Clipper City was a bit on the light side), but had varying bitterness levels and none of the late hop flavor and spiciness. We were split on the best. I went with Spaten and B-man went with H-P. I think both were very good. Paulaner seemed to be weak in comparison, although it did have a similar flavor.

The Germans definitely win hands down. There is a distinct difference in the hoppiness between the Americans and the German fest beers. I prefer the German styles over the American. Except for the Becks, which was missing something.

I also believe the yeast is a player here. I'm not exactly sure, but there was a similarity amongst the German beers that the American beers didn't have that is attributed to the yeast...and let's not forget the German water... :-\

Anyway we calibrated our palates and brewed up some of Denny's VBIP.  8)


One thing that I also noticed with many German beers is the quality of the bitterness. Especially beers brewed by large commercial breweries tend to have a very clean bitterness that even at higher levels does not taste harsh. It may linger but doesn’t stick around for long. The hop taste, if present, never feels “raw” or harsh either. I don’t exactly know how they get that since I had beers from smaller breweries (pub or museum breweries) that show a less refined quality of the bitterness while they would be using a similar procedure and similar ingredients.

How about the use of crystal and carmel malts. I know that many American beers have a distinctive crystal note in their aroma that is missing from most German examples of that style. SA Oktoberfest, for example is a good and tasty beer but I would not use it as a reference for judging Oktoberfest style beers.


None of the beers in this flight had pronounced crystal or cara malt flavors.  The maltiness was not sweet, but, for the lack of a better word, malty.  Like a light pumpernickel bread.  I know SA is got a touch of cara taste to it,  I did not notice that in these beers.

That is my impression of American Mass Production Ofest.  Very Carmelish.  SA and Leine's especially.  I still drink a lot of the Leine's because it is decent beer for cheap.

Last year I had:

HB and Spaten are my faves.


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