3.1AROMA 6/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 5/10 PALATE 3/5 OVERALL 13/20
It’s difficult to find an Oktoberfest (or "marzen") beer that really impresses me. This is likely due to the fact the style by its very nature is deliberately mild since the beer is meant to be drank in large quantities while eating lots of food. That fact the marzen style is a lager also has something to do with it. Well, those rebels at Magic Hat seem to have found a way to put a new spin on this style of beer: by brewing it as an amber ale called Hex (and appropriately subtitled "Ourtoberfest"). It’s a novel concept to be sure, but the end result is an average ale that isn’t any more impressive than any other Oktoberfest.
APPEARANCE AND AROMA
I poured a 12oz bottle into a dimpled mug. The color is a very attractive shade that falls somewhere in that orange-copper-burnt umber-brown range. It’s clear and bubbly and forms a fairly generous, off-white, soapy head (which evaporates rather fast and leaves no lacing on the glass).
The aroma is mild with faint notes of toffee and an overall malty, slightly sweet scent. So far it doesn’t look much different from any other marzen.
The problem I have with Oktoberfest beers is that because they are lagers they tend to taste like lagers despite whatever other qualities they may have. Magic Hat Hex seems to be the beer for people like me that want the flavor without the lager sensation. And for the most part it does the job. You get exactly what you expect in a marzen: toffee, caramel and biscuity malts.
The problem is these sweet flavors are very mild. It’s somewhat reminiscent of a hard candy taste, but there is little energy to the palate to make these flavors appealling. The problem is the finish is like a dry, crumbling biscuit stuck in your mouth. It’s slightly doughy or powdery, and even though it’s only 25 IBUs and has little hop presence, this beer dries out my mouth akin to a strong IPA.
As Hex warms, the flavors open up a bit more, but the dryness increases. It’s also a touch sour, but easily tolerable. While not what I would consider a bad-tasting beer, there just isn’t much here to enjoy.
I was quite surprised that even after an aggressive pour, Hex "Ourtoberfest" was still heavily carbonated. It made for a fairly intense mouthfeel and plenty of gas bubbles trapped in my esophagus (in other words - I burped a lot). However, the dry palate prevents it from being a truly quaffable brew.
At 5.4% ABV this is pretty much par for the course for this type of beer. It could easily be sessioned, especially by the more pedestrian and inexperienced drinkers whose palates might not be as sensitive to the mild, dry palate as mine.
It cracks me up that Magic Hat seemed to put so much effort into making an original Oktoberfest beer and yet Hex "Ourtoberfest" is pretty much the same as all the other brews in its class. If anything, they didn’t deviate from the style enough.