Thursday, April 22, 2010

Rogue MaierFest Lager


3.6
   AROMA 6/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 7/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 15/20
Chad9976 (599) - Albany, USA - MAY 21, 2010
Rogue Ales out of Newport, Oregon is one of the most popular American craft breweries as they are known for making extremely robust beers of various styles. However, almost everything they make is an ale and many of them are known for their hop levels, so how would a beer that’s not only a lager but a MALTY lager turn out? Maierfest Lager is Rogue’s version of an Oktoberfest bier and it’s quite possibly the best American brew of the style I’ve ever had.

APPEARANCE AND AROMA

I poured a 22oz bomber into a 1-liter mug. Right away this beer has the appearance of a high-quality lager. It’s not yellow, it’s orange/copper with little effervescence. It generates a large frothy white head which never completely dissipates and leaves some lacing on the glass.

Marzens tend to be rather mild in the nose, and this beer is too. There’s some candy-like sweetness and a general maltiness, but these scents don’t jump out at you. It definitely doesn’t smell like a typical lager, and that’s quite impressive.

TASTE
According to Rogue’s website, brewmaster John Maier says this beer was brewed in response to a trend of Oktoberfest biers losing their character to the point of being more like a helles than a marzen. While I’ve never been a big fan of Oktoberfest biers (German, American or otherwise), it was so refreshing for me to drink a beer of the style and genuinely feel impressed.

For a lager, this is a hefty brew. It’s only medium-bodied, but it’s got a lot of weight to throw around. The front end is has prominent notes of caramel and toffee sweetness. It’s akin to the flavors some of the higher-end German marzens have, but doesn’t have a crisp body like many American brews of the style. The finish is equally sweet with a confectionary taste leaving a pleasant, but brief, aftertaste.

My only beef with this beer is that it’s a little too mild. I really enjoyed those caramel and toffee notes, but they were entirely too suppressed. I noticed the beer actually seemed to become more mild as I drank on with an ever-so-slight sour aftertaste. I suppose I can give it the benefit of the doubt since beers of the Oktoberfest style aren’t intended to be an explosion of flavor.

DRINKABILITY

Even though the taste is a bit dialed-down compared to other beers from this brewery, I found Maierfest Lager to be extremely drinkable. The mouthfeel is soft, thick, and a tad bit sticky. It goes down extremely smooth, making it a very drinker-friendly beer.

As much I love Rogue’s beers, it’s rare I would describe anything they make as sessionable. And while Maierfest Lager has a rather mild palate, the fact remains it’s still a hefty brew. Rogue never publishes their alcohol content but several beer websites estimate it’s 5.6% ABV (although I think it might be a touch higher). After drinking one bomber of this beer I could feel the weight bearing down on me, although the alcohol itself was easily tolerable. This beer would pair well with brats or other Oktoberfest-type foods, but I doubt many drinkers would want to drink more than one bomber of it at a time (it’s only available in 22oz bombers).

FINAL THOUGHTS

While not the greatest beer in the world, Rogue Maierfest Lager is one of those impressive beers you have to admire for what it does under the conditions. I’ll bet Rogue could actually make this beer even more robust like many of the great beers in their lineup, but I’ll be happy to settle for a beer that’s just plain good and notable.

Grade: 7/10