Thursday, November 1, 2007

A New Favorite and a Couple of Oktoberfestbiers

I have recently discovered a beer that easily takes a place in my Top Ten Beers I Go Back To Again and Again (something will have to get knocked out of that list.)

It's Abbot Ale, from the Greene King Brewery ( I stumbled onto this beer by accident—bought it on a whim while scanning the shelves—and am I ever happy. Basically, British pale ale is my favorite style of beer. And Abbot Ale is a really distinct and enticing example of this style. You will often hear British ales described as "fruity" or "estery". Well, if you want to know exactly what that means, taste an Abbot Ale. You may love it and you may hate it—remember, De gustibus non est disputandum—but at least you'll know exactly what distinctive British ale character is like.

It pours a rich mahogany, with a slightly orange cast. The taste is incredibly complex—slightly spicy, fruity, estery, and bold. This beer holds together to the very end, even as it warms to room temperature. You can sip away on one of these all evening (if you have that sort of will-power) and the last warmish sip will still be delicious and satisfying. I buy it in cans and don't let that scare you off—modern cans are a great way to package premium beer; they're much better than those crazy clear bottles. If you are a British pale ale afficionado like me, or if you want to try a striking example of the style, I highly recommend Abbot Ale.

I know this is November now, but I must include reviews of a couple of oktoberfestbiers that I recently tried on a business trip (and hey, Oktoberfest is held in September anyway, so there's no need to quibble about months.) The first is Paulaner Oktoberfest Märzen from that great monastic brewery (albeit no longer run by monks.) Oktoberfestbier is a lager beer, brewed using special strains of yeast that ferment in cooler temperatures and then further cold conditioned for a smooth, clean taste. This beer pours fairly light for the style and is indeed smooth and rich. Very malty, with a balanced hop finish. Good stuff.

Even better, however, is the Hacker-Pschorr Oktoberfest Märzen. This beer has more of everything, compared to the Paulaner. It has a richer, coppery red color. It is spicier, with a distinctively sweet, caramel note. It is smooth and crisp. Hands down this is my favorite example of this wonderful German style, which is readily available as a real treat this time of year.

I haven't yet brewed an oktoberfestbier, but if I ever brew a beer even close to as good as the Hacker-Pschorr (or even the Paulaner) I'll call myself a brewer.


Ray said...

One can never go wrong with a Paulaner of Hacker-Pschorr beer. Hacker-Pschorr would probably be my favorite of the German beers available here in the states. Their hefeweizen and dunkelweizen are always refreshing. I would say Schneider-Weisse comes close. I have yet to taste any German beer as good as their Aventinus. :-)

PalmHQ said...

I agree with you about H-P. Their hefeweizen is absolutely outstanding--my very favorite in that style.

I have to taste the Aventinus for sure. I've seen it get rave reviews, but haven't tasted it for myself. Thanks for the reminder!

Kevin said...

Since I started Homebrewing I've tried to avoid the store-bought beer. Too expensive! But some of your reviews tempt me, to be sure...

Father G. said...

Hello Dave,

Finally looked up your blog sites...impressive. really know a lot about beer...
Father G.

Bill said...

I completely concur with your assesment of the maerzen beers. My personal favorite is Spaten and hence we serve it at our Oktoberfest.

bee said...

A few beers recommendations for the cold season:
Rothaus Märzen Export EIS ZÄPFLE
or Andechser Dunkel