Showing posts with label oktoberfest lager. Show all posts
Showing posts with label oktoberfest lager. Show all posts

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Falling Into Von Trapp

Lager is kind of my thing.

I can't think of a single warm fermented beer style that I would rather drink than a well executed cold fermented style. Sorry folks but your New England IPAs just don't compare to the height of craft brewing that is an Old School Czech pale lager. If you think that you foreign extra stout with gorilla snot and dingleberries can hold a candle to schwarzbier then you are in for disappointment.

Most of my favourite breweries are those that brew lager, giving it the deference and respect it is due, even those like Sierra Nevada who are better known for their ales do some magnificent lagers as well. This year I added a new to me brewery to my list of go to purveyors of fine decocted booze, Von Trapp Brewing from Vermont (yes, that Von Trapp family and yes they do decoction mashing).


Since trying their Oktoberfest back in the appropriate season, I have been on something of a Von Trapp kick. Other than my 10 days in central Europe, I have probably indulged in at least one six pack of their various beers each weekend since September, and in keeping with my worldview these days I haven't really taken notes other than when needed for other projects and schemes.



Something that each of the beers I have tried so far shares is that it is an excellent example of whichever style it is. For example I am actually fairly confident that had Beer Run had any more of the Oktoberfest when I decided to do my mass tasting that it would have been in at least the final 4, possibly the top 2.


Most recently I have been revelling in Tr?sten, a rauchbier that unlike many an American made smoke beer is actually worthy of the name. Sure it might not be a full frontal assault on the senses a la Schlenkerla, but it is a beautifully smokey dark lager that could easily become a regular in winter for me, and may even be used to soak the raisins, sultanas, et al in the fruit cake I plan to make this weekend for my father-in-law and I.

Of the regular styles available my go tos of late have been Helles and Dunkel, both of which I would put right up there with the best versions available back in Germany and which, as a side note for us Czech beer fans of the world, make a delightful ?ezané pivo, or black and tan.


If you live in any of the states where Von Trapp is available, I recommend getting out to the store and stocking up, and if said store isn't carrying these superb lagers given them earache until they relent! I have been desperately trying to avoid cheesy Sound of Music references, but truly these are a few of my favourite things! Whilst in the mood for cheesy puns, yes I am happy to declare myself a Von Trappist too.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

The Beer of Autumn 2015

Last autumn I bought myself a mixed 12 pack of Sierra Nevada beers consisting of three bottles of Pale Ale, Vienna Lager, Oktoberfest and the Tumbler Brown Ale. Each and every beer was a delight, as you would expect from such an august brewing company as SN. With the heat of summer finally on the wane, I kept my eyes open for this year's version, looking forward to, in particular, the Oktoberfest. I don't remember which shop I was in, but there was an absence of the mix pack, but six packs of the Oktoberfest were already on the shelves (at the end of August but that's a different post), so I picked one up and took it home for a Friday night of beer and films, oh yes, I know how to party.

As I poured 3 bottles into my 1 litre Paulaner glass, which is my preferred glass for most lagers, I had a moment of cognitive dissonance as I was expecting a much darker beer, a hunch which was confirmed with a quick scan of my Instagram feed. It was only then that I bothered to read the label properly and discovered that gone was the deep red Oktoberfest I had loved, and in its place a collaboration with Brauhaus Riegele from Augsburg in Germany. One of my constant gripes about many an American made Oktoberfest lager is a tendency toward sweetness derived from caramel malts rather than Munich malts, with a German brewery on board though I figured this would be something more Teutonic.


As you can see from the pictures, this is no deep red lager, it is a lovely rich golden, bordering on copper, and that big white head just seems to linger, and linger. Tastewise we are talking full on German style lager, clean, crisp, slightly grainy and with a cracker dry finish, there is some juicy sweetness from Munich malt that prevents the beer from being puckering and then there is the hop bite, again crystal clear and sharply defined. A touch of lemon, some floral notes, and all of this perfectly married together in a 6.0% abv beer that makes a chap want to dash off to Lowe's, buy a wooden picnic table, hire an Oompah band, dress Mrs V up in dirndl, and get merrily sloshed under the oak tree in our back yard. Yes it really is that good.


I have said many times before that really I am a very unfussy drinker. Make something that is delicious, well made, and not laden with silly shit and I'll happily drink it until it runs out, and this beer has filled that role perfectly so far this autumn. I think I am on something like my 3rd case of it, and given that I expect supplies to start being shifted on for the next big seasonal thing, I am looking forward to the knockdown price 12 packs to stock up well into November.

I also love this promo video on the Sierra Nevada website...



Apparently Sierra Nevada will be picking a different German brewery each year to collaborate with on the Oktoberfest, and there is a part of me that would love to see them work with Brauerei Carl Betz from Celle in northern Germany, for no other reason than I lived in Celle for about 5 years as a child.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Unseasonal Delight

One of my constant bugbears is the unseasonal availability of seasonal beers. I remember a few years ago when my first sighting of the magnificent Samuel Adams Alpine Spring (and how much I miss that beer, simply wonderful drop it was) was on Boxing Day (that's December 26th for my non-British/Commonwealth readers), and now it seems the shops are groaning under the weight of Oktoberfest lagers and pumpkins ales.

I am not a fan of pumpkin ales whatsoever, they all taste like soggy, months out of date, digestive biscuits to me, but I do like a good Oktoberfest lager, though I try not to buy any until Oktoberfest is about a week away - this year's starts on September 19th. Well, I broke that rule this weekend, but on the grounds that I needed a malty lager to make my latest batch of chilli chutney, and purchased a six pack of Trader Joe's Oktoberfest, as it seemed it would fit the bill.

With half a litre of the beer bubbling away in the pan, alongside 8 red bell peppers, 6 jalapenos, 2 habaneros, and the other stuff necessary for the chutney, I poured three of the remaining 4 bottles into my 1 litre Oktoberfest glass....


One thing that immediately caught my eye, on the label at least, was the ingredient list (something I heartily approve of). It listed just dark Munich malt and Hallertau hops, which almost caused my heart to skip a beat of delight. I am not a fan of using caramel malts in Oktoberfest lagers, I find they tend toward sickliness and a slick mouthfeel that just feels wrong to me, but with dark Munich you get a lovely sweetness and still that firm cracker charateristic of good German beers, not to mention that beautiful orange glow. The hops are clearly present, with a definite, though unobtrusive, bitter snap right at the end of the finish, and traces of lemongrass in the nose.

Whilst not a session beer, being 5.3% abv, it is a wonderfully drinkable beer and it will be a regular in the fridge this autumn, especially at $6.49 a six pack. You really can't argue with that, well made, tasty beer at a price point which won't break the bank. I look forward to many refills of the tuplák in the weeks to come.

Beyond January

Dry January is over, but my beer fast continues. Well, it continues until Friday. As a general rule I only drink at the weekend, thus my win...

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