Six String Ramstein Märzen

Total Score: 4.9/10 RedApple1Barley1GreenApple1Stein1

Don’t mind a good Märzen at all, however it needs to have one important thing for it to qualify as a good Märzen for me and that thing is: Body. Lots of it. With a nice creamy carbonation. Apart from that the flavour can go anywhere it likes – if it ain’t got that body then I ain’t liking it. Six String are a bit of a hit n’ miss brewer for me – their Dark Red IPA is OK, I mean it’s not going to compete with the Modus/Kaiju/Prancing Pony Gods for that ever so shiny Aussie Red IPA of my heart crown, but it’s not shite by any stretch of the imagination. Now their Hefeweizen – that was below-average-borderline-shit… which as a German style has me worried about Ramstein… will it be a disaster? [you can’t see but my fingers are crossed]

Poured from a 500ml can into a stein… a ram-stein perhaps?

A: Hazed amber body with a billowy off-white 2 centimetre head that slowly drops back the pulling lace down with it. The head vanished rather fast and with practically no lace to speak of this doesn’t look great for a Märzen… also the bubbles in the head are big and, in my experience, suggest a lack of body. 5/10.

S: Bit of a one-note cider apple aroma… not much else to it, where’s the: bread, grain, cake and grassy hop character that is often found in Märzens? Apart from the oft-found cider apples I’m getting nothing… this isn’t looking… err, smelling good for Six String. 5/10.

T: Cider apples, yes we expected that, thin body (we’ll get to that), grain spirit mid palate and a grainy dry finish… this beer is more flaccid than a eunuch at a… well: Anywhere really. Not much else to add here… back to the drawing board with this one Six String. 5/10.

M: Mid to light bodied, no creamy carbonation – over gassed for the style. Disappointing. 4/10.

D: Six String really drop the ball on their German styles, but I can’t hold it against them – German beers are deceptively hard to brew. I’ve come to realise this over the past nearly 20 years of drinking them. When I first tried a Löwenbräu Original I got this deflated sense of “really, was that it?”. It’s soft bodied with simple Helles Lager flavours so I didn’t understand until after a hundred-odd Lagers (with terrible watery bodies and gassy carbonation) later. Then I had an epiphany: Damn! It’s actually hard to brew a Lager as good as Löwenbräu: Ze Germans, zey know what zey’re doing ja? Ja indeed my sausage-imbibing brethren. 5/10.

Food match: Speaking of sausage – I could go a knackwurst right now. Mit senf!

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Murray’s The Kaiser Oktoberfest

Total Score: 7.2/10 Bread1Honeycomb1Caramel1Stein1

While I’m on a roll with Australian brewed German beer styles it would be impossible (or even unwise) to pass up on Murray’s The Kaiser Oktoberfest, a Märzen I sampled previously but wished I had taken notes – because it was a honey-oat lovefest of a brew. Let’s face it, Murray’s hasn’t impressed me much lately, at least their Thunderbolt IPA was a bit of a meh for me, so I was only too keen to get my hands on this again so I could big it up for Murray’s: “Cheer up Murray, don’t let it get you down, pick yourself up off the ground, it’s gonna be alright”… “Some people don’t return your calls, they don’t return your calls, people will call you ginger balls, They’ll call you ginger balls”… Cheer up Murray!

Poured from tap into a 945ml Squealer then a stein.

A: Hazed rich rust-tinged amber body with a 1 centimetre creamy off-white head in top. Looks a teensy bit flat, but thems the breaks when you’re drinking from a Squealer. As far as colours go with Märzens my rule of thumb is: The darker the better – to a point (which is rust/brownish). 7/10.

S: Porridge and honey – I already gave that away in my preamble – there is a distinct breadiness to this brew along with the oats/honey… essentially this beer reminds me of a honeyed version of a Doppelbock, which is a step up from a Märzen in breadiness and ABV, and at 5.6% ABV this Murray’s brew is delightfully heady in aroma. Second whiff reveals a toffee/Diacetyl note – which is perfectly acceptable in this style. 8/10.

T: Sweet honey/toffee/oat and bread notes mingle throughout leading towards a finish that evens out the sweetness a little with a slight dry character. Coppery note in there as well, a little distracting but overall flavours are tasty. Aftertaste adds a hint of herbal bitterness. 7/10.

M: Medium bodied and “oh-no!” rather flat… It wasn’t an easy pour from where I obtained this and I think the flatness of the carbonation may have been an unfortunate bystander in the pouring to the Squealer, oh well. 5/10.

D: This was much better when I first had it, but then flat beers can be a tad deflating (here have a pun!). However it didn’t take the shine off as much as expected so that’s a good sign. If Murray’s get around to bottling this for Oktoberfest next year I’ll definitely get my grubby hands on it… or I’ll wash my hands beforehand and I’ll get my clean hands on it, either way = win! 8/10.

Food match: Pretzels: Bavarian style!

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Sierra Nevada Oktoberfest

Total Score: 8.45/10 Honeycomb1 RedApple1 Barley1 Stein1

From “The Other SN” to “The SN” or TSN, or better yet: SN. Sierra Nevada are of course so well known that next year’s single batch will be brewed with the Sirius star system brewery as a cross galactic collaboration. This time however they’re collaborating with Brauhaus Riegele of Augsburg, a brewer I am unacquainted with. Märzens, a beer style which I imagine would have the catchphrase (if beer styles had catchphrases) “Märzens: Familiar with them?” I am. I relish a decent Märzen come Oktober. Märzen is of course German for ‘March’ the brewing start date. They’re a Lager with hefty malt kick and body. They have upwards of 6% ABV and taste more like your typical Ale than a Lager, which is probably why I like them so much (I’m definitely an Ale person).

Poured from a 355ml bottle into a stein.

A: Clear light golden with a white cappuccino foam 1 cm head that holds well, as far as Märzens go this is on the lighter side (they can range from a Lager gold to an Ale amber/brown IME). 8/10.

S: Sweet with a slight fruity note – honey and overripe nectarines with a touch of cider apples. So far, so excellent. 8/10.

T: As above: Honey, overripe nectarines and cider apples, très tasty! All that delightfulness, that mead-like abandon, has a not so delicate side with a granular cereal centre, however this is a side detour in what is a really, really tasty Märzen. Finish is crisp enough to make any Lederhosen wearing Bavarian a happy man [I’m not being sexist – only men wear Lederhosen]. 9/10.

M: Medium bodied, smooth, with a light – almost flat (Märzens aren’t renowned for having a great amount of) carbonation. Pretty much spot-on here. 8/10.

D: I wish SN would make this a permanent addition to their line-up [Dammit SN make this a permanent addition to your line-up… evil bastards]. Overall this brew contains the Bavarian spirit of a Märzen with lecker (Google some German ppl) flavour, a crisp Helles finish and that American geist of experimentation to produce a beer that is ‘old world meets new whilst remaining true to the essence of the old’, and if you’re looking for a tagline for the next label on this brew Sierra Nevada you have my permission to use that… evil bastards. 8/10.

Food match: Insert Bavarian barbequed meats here, oder grosse wurst mit senf und brezel.

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Schlenkerla Märzen

Total Score: 8.1/10 Bacon1 Honeycomb1 Lemon1 Stein1

Schlenkerla, what can we say about them that hasn’t already been said? They are the undisputed kings of the Rauchbier genre… well they may be a little disputed, HaandBryggeriet’s Norwegian Wood for example is a really good Rauch… anyway, it’s time to finally review the Märzen, which was actually the first Rauchbier I tried, lost my Rauch-ginity to Schlenkerla, and TBH I did not like it the first time. Now that I’m a seasoned Rauch drinker Schlenkerla Urbock is my go to glass of liquid bacon, let’s see if this revisit to the Märzen is as good.

Poured from a 500ml bottle into a Stein.

A: Presents a deep slight-hazed Bole brown body with a tight-packed 2cm beige head that settles to half a centimetre. Looks a real dark smoky treat, wunderbar! 8/10.

S: Bacon, yes you’ve been expected, probably the biggest difference between this and the Urbock is this one trends towards sweetness in the aroma with an almost icing sugar/cake frosting sweetness lingering in the background. Apart from that it is Beechwood FTW. 8/10.

T: Not as bold as the Urbock… actually I’m surprised by how shocked I recall being when I first tried this many moons ago – yes it is smoky, but not quite as smoky as the Urbock, and this is well balanced with notes of Bacon, sweet honey malt and a twist of lemon. This is the Märzen cousin of Urbock (remember that Märzens are bottom-fermented, in other words; a Lager, even though they don’t often come across as Lagers). Finish is Dry Munich Helles dry with a touch of yeast sourness. 8/10.

M: Mid to light bodied (a bit watery compared to the Urbock) with a light but dense carbonation – fits the Märzen bill well, not great. 7/10.

D: Overall this is wunderbar compared to the Urbock’s ehrfürchtige. A class act of a Rauch that is overshadowed by THE best Rauchbier in the world (Schlenkerla’s own Urbock). If I had to pick a cured meat to compare this Märzen to (as is my tradition for all Schlenkerla beer reviews) I would say this is: Smoked honey ham. If you like smoked honey ham you will like this offering from Bamberg (the unofficial home of sexual relations). Bam. 9/10.

Food match: Who needs food when you have a glass of this glorious smoked honey ham delight? Seriously though: Bavarian pork knuckle with fried potato and onions and sauerkraut… damn I’m hungry now.

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Prickly Moses Oktoberfest Lager

Total Score: 7.6/10 Malt1 Biscuit1 CutGrass1 Stein1

Prickly Moses, aka Otway Estate Winery & Brewery, have been somewhat hit & miss with me – on the one hand their Blueberry Hefeweizen was pretty tops, but on the other hand their Red Ale made me question reality and whether or not if I beer that average could be made by such a renowned brewer then made this entire Earth is some sort of construct and we really are in the matrix? And who says that something is “tops” this day and age, except me? And who says “this day and age” this week and year? Time to allay my questions with those things that people do in reply to them… [answers?].

Poured from tap into a nonic pint.

A: Clear copper/rust body with a thick 2cm off-white head, looks quite spectacular actually. 9/10.

S: The Vienna malts lend it a full malty nose. There are some grassy and spicy Saaz hop notes giving it a great (and spot on) Oktoberfest Lager aroma. Welcome to Märzen country! 8/10.

T: A malt grain base thicker than grandmas Apple pie front palate, biscuit sweetness mid and a cut grass hop/long dry finish. This is the closest I think an Aussie has got to nailing a German style, this is almost indistinguishable from the real thing. It does however get a touch wheaty in the aftertaste, which lost it a single digit [insert sadface here]. 7/10.

M: Medium bodied with a creamy Oktoberfest Lager carbonation. Damn Prickly Moses nailed this! 8/10.

D: In a word: Very (drinkable). I haven’t been totally impressed by Prickly Moses in the past but now, in the future with flying cars and time machines, I have been able to travel back in time to implant the seed of this excellent beer idea into the brewers mind, travel back to the future, save Marty McFly from making a terrible mistake, and enjoy a glass of this fine brew. Get it if you see it [it’s being served at The Durham in Kingston, Doc’s new home of craft beer in Canberra] – you will not be disappointed. 8/10.

Food match: Oktoberfest foods – deep-fried Lederhosen with Dirndl sauce, total-world-domination fries, and roasted pork foot wrapped in prosciutto with bacon bits and pork sauce.

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Paulaner Munchen Oktoberfest Bier

Total Score: 7.5/10 Bananas1 GreenApple1 Bread1 Stein1

First bruview back since a cold debilitated my senses of taste and smell [this was 3 years ago – ironically I’m posting old reviews because I have another cold] and I decided on something borderline special (a limited brew!).

Poured from a 1L can into a Paulaner 1L stein – glass matching my beers now.

A: The beer poured a 3.5cm white head that fizzled down to a half centimetre lacing. The body itself was a cloudy orange with a steady stream of bubbles rising… pleasing without being exceptional. 7/10.

S: It’s a wheat beer so all the usual suspects are here: bananas, clove spice, and sour dough. There is a stronger hint of actual spirit grain than usual and I surmise this may be down to the alcohol content more than anything else. 8/10.

T: Quite a fruity taste upfront – led by banana flavours, with cider apples in close support. The sour dough is also strong in this one, but otherwise it’s a standard fare Weiss bier. I’m getting a sharp alcohol back note which betrays this brew in respect to its competition (give me a Weihenstephaner any day of the week!). 7/10.

M: It has a creamy and heavy wheat beer structure which beckons for another sip – I quite like my wheat beers for this reason. Carbonation is right in the middle (not too fizzy, not too flat). 8/10.

D: Easily drinkable, and in large quantities. However one would argue this is the point of a wheat beer: to slake a thirst but leave it wanting more (God knows I want more), so for this reason and comparing it to other (more complex) wheat beers this is merely an above average beer. Will I drink another? Perhaps, but at the price Weihenstephaner is a much better buy/beer overall. 8/10.

Food match: Oktoberfest food; fried pork, fried onions, fried potato, fried bread, fried sausage, fried etc… You get the picture.

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