Sunday, September 21, 2008

Paulaner Oktoberfest Märzen (2008 original review)

3.8
   AROMA 7/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 7/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 16/20
Chad9976 (735) - Albany, New York, USA - MAR 28, 2010
When I decided to sample as many different “Oktoberfest” beers as possible, I decided to wait to try an authentic German beer (no, Beck’s doesn’t count). In retrospect, I wish I had done the opposite, since now I have a true frame of reference.

It was obvious to me just one gulp into Paulaner Oktoberfest just how authentic this beer is and how artificial all the others are. Not that this is a mind-blowingly fantastic brew, but it’s good enough to set me straight as to what a REAL Oktoberfest beer should be.

POUR, COLOR AND AROMA

I was given a Paulaner pilsner glass from a bartender many years ago (I was in my sailor’s uniform and she was flirting with me), but it has been stored away on the top cupboard virtually unused over the years. It’s so nice to finally have the right beer to drink out of it.

Paulaner poured quite roughly with a lot of air kickback, even at a near parallel angle. It has a pretty appearance of dark amber and orange that is a bit cloudy and seems highly carbonated. It forms a large, white, soapy head which lingers for quite a white and leaves a lot of lacing on the glass.

The aroma is definitely unlike the American “Octoberfest” beers, this is much more authentic-smelling and not so gimmicky. The presence of malts is clear, along with some assorted sweet scents, but they are subtle.

TASTE

My reaction to Paulaner Oktoberfest was nearly identical to my reaction of drinking a beer made from real pumpkin instead of artificial flavoring: “Ah! So THIS is what it’s supposed to taste like!”

In a way, I’m glad I tried all those homage Octoberfest beers, because it makes me even more appreciative of the real thing. Since Paulaner is one of only six beers than can legally bear the Oktoberfest name, I now know why that is.

This is a beer with one of the most authentic German tastes I have ever encountered.
The taste is a perfect balance of malt, sweet seasonings and some spices to give it a rich flavor complexity. The taste is reminiscent of toffee and leaves a sweet aftertaste in your mouth. But at the same time it’s also a bit dry due to its spices.

FINISH

For a beer with such a genuine taste, Paulaner finishes as clean as an American light beer. But since it has such a strong, unique taste its finish is almost a moot point since this is a beer that requires real appreciation on the drinker’s behalf first and foremost.

BODY

I wasn’t able to find out how many calories are in a 12oz serving, but since this is quite a potent beer at 5.8% ABV, I’d assume it’s not low. Since Oktoberfest beers were meant to be drunk during a large festival of food, most of them are much lighter in body than their dark appearance would indicate. This is true of Paulaner as I was able to down two bottles in a row without feeling bloated, but the alcohol definitely was noticeable.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Since I’m fairly new to this beer reviewing thing I won’t pretend to be an expert on niche or seasonal beers, and since Oktoberfest are some of the most sacred styles on the planet, I’m not going to crown Paulaner the best of them since I haven’t tried the other five yet. However, for all Americans who are able to read this I’d suggest heading over to your local beverage center or beer warehouse and picking up Paulaner instead of all the other wannabes out there. 
Grade: 8/10