Our Beer Panel Reviews: German-Style Brews

Happy Octoberfest!

For our latest round of National Retailer Beer Panel reviews, we asked panelists to taste and rate German-style beers. These brews could be from anywhere, so long as they followed a German style.

These reviews include brief tasting notes, and a rating our of 100.

If you’re a retail or off-premise professional who would like to learn more about participating in our panel, please contact associate editor Kyle Swartz at (203) 855-8499 ext. 2225 or kswartz@epgmediallc.com.

Five Star Beers

(97) Hacker-Pschorr Original Oktoberfest / Oktoberfest Märzen (Munich, Germany). Warm honey on toasted bread, light toffee, earthy, spicy malt, herbal hops successfully balance. Light-to-medium bodied, dry toasty finish. Top 3 Marzen. 5.8% ABV.

(95) Weihenstephaner Korbinian Doppelbock (Freising, Germany). Pours dark, murky brown with a firm tan head. Aroma of fresh, warm dark bread. Flavors are grainy wort, light raisin, honey and banana chips. A soft roast character with light smokiness appears as the beer warms. Light-to-medium bodied, with a dry mid-palate, then rounds out in the finish. A+ drinkability. An outstanding Doppelbock. 7.4% ABV, 32 IBU.

(93) Brauerei Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier Urbock (Bamberg, Germany). This smoked beer pours dark brown with a light brown head. The smoky aroma bursts forward. Definitely a beer for lovers of smoked meat. Finishes very light for a beer that is perceived as being heavy. 6.6% ABV.

(93) Weihenstephaner Festbier (Freising, Germany). Fresh grain, lightly toasted bread. Light Noble hop bitterness adds balance. Light bodied. Carbonation is sharp and abrupt. Finish is dry yet round and clean. An all-day drinker. 5.8% ABV, 26 IBU.

Four Star Beers

(92) Augustiner-Brau Augustiner Maximator Dopplebock (Munich, Germany). Pours a deep mahogany with a light brown head. Sweet and malty aromas lead to a rich sticky toffee taste. Well balanced and smooth. Hard to ask for much more in a Dopplebock. 7.5% ABV.

(92) Von Trapp Brewing Helles Lager (Stowe, VT). Pours an absolutely beautiful golden color. The beer is flawlessly clear and leaves a big head like beaten egg white. This beer is very crisp and clean. Nice bready malt with refreshing lemony citrus tones from the hops. The lager yeast leaves a perfect refreshing drying effect on the tongue. Truly one of the cleanest lagers out there. 4.9% ABV, 20 IBU.

(91) Garage Brewing Co. Golden Helles (Temecula, CA). Toasted white bread, honey, dust, floral and soapy hop character that balances well. Light-bodied. Dryness and minerality in the finish. Firm-yet-elegant flavors that are extremely well balanced. Impressive. 5.2% ABV, 10 IBU.

(91) Anderson Valley GT Gose (Boonville, CA). A Gose-style beer that is brewed with a host of herbs and spices to mimic the classic Gin and Tonic cocktail. Pours a pale yellow with a thin white head. Aroma is quite reminiscent of gin. Tart and well balanced, with lots of citrus, salt on the finish. 4.2% ABV.

(91) Schlafly Kolsch (St. Louis, MO). Pale yellow color with slight cloudy haze. Inch of white head that dissipated rather quickly. Fruity esters on the nose. Light fruitiness follows in the mouth, with mild hops present mostly on the finish. Nice effervescence, with more body and mouthfeel than the appearance/style might indicate. Crisp, refreshing beer. Pleasant and sessionable, it’s a nice take on the style at a reasonable price point. 4.8% ABV, 25 IBU.

(91) Crux Pilz (Bend, OR). Noble hops and toasted cracker bread. Pils malt, light biscuit, light sweetness that adds weight on the palate. Softer mouthfeel than the style calls for; definitely more meat on the bone. Really enjoyable and pleasant. Crushable. 5.2% ABV, 32 IBU.

(90) Omnipollo Bianca Raspberry Gose (Stockholm, Sweden). Pours a deep ruby red, leaving no doubt that this beer is brewed with tons of raspberry. To no surprise, the nose is of tart raspberry, while a slight hint of sour funk hangs around in the background. First sip is of very tart raspberry juice. The finish has a little hint of Brettanomyces funk and that signature Gose salinity. Tart and refreshing without being mouth-puckering sour, and shows good fruit. 6.6% ABV, 33 IBU.

(89) Spaten-Franziskaner-Brau Hefe-Weissbier (Munich, Germany). This traditional German unfiltered wheat beer pours a hazy golden amber, leaving a nice fluffy white head. Without even getting your nose close to the glass you can smell the wheat and yeast. The beer’s flavor is all wheat upfront with typical Hefeweizen flavors of banana, clove and bubblegum from the yeast. If you want to experience a true German Hefeweizen style beer, then it doesn’t get much more traditional than Franziskaner Hefe. 5% ABV, 4 IBU.

(89) Urban Chestnut “Schnickelfritz” Bavarian-Style Weissbier Ale (St. Louis, MO). Slightly hazy golden color, with good, persistent white head. Expressive clove aromas with citrus lurking in the background. Clove and citrus interplay in the flavor, with a little bready character and very slight banana hints. Light in body, with a fresh crispness from medium carbonation. Another fine German-style interpretation from Urban Chestnut. 4.8% ABV, 16 IBU.

(88) Barley Forge Grandpa Tractor Dortmunder Export (Costa Mesa, CA). Spicy, grassy hops, black pepper, untoasted corn bread, buttermilk biscuits. Nice clean mouthfeel. Good acidity, firm hop character, but balanced flavors overall. Another well-made beer by BF. 5% ABV.

(87) Victory Festbier (Downingtown, PA). Grainy nose. Flavor is lightly toasted grain bread. Light grassy and spicy hop character. Light caramel. Clean and balanced. Finishes dry. Spot on for the style, although there’s a tad too much graininess in the finish. Still delicious. 5.6% ABV, 20 IBU.

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