Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Beer: Hacker-Pschorr Festbier

HACKER-PSCHORR FESTBIER (Munich, Germany) - 4.0 (excellent)

Ah, another superb limited seasonal from this legend of German brewing. Festbier is a golden Oktoberfest lager, and is the first time the real Oktoberfest has been made available in the United States, believe it or not. The previous versions we saw over here were reformulations and variations. If you cherish a trip to the real Oktoberfest in Munich, search out a bottle of this and you’ll be getting that much closer.

Pours a clean golden, with a big frothy head of fine white carbonation. Beautiful spider web lacing, too.

Nose is caramel malts, brisk lager grains, and a touch of the Hallertau hops underneath. Nice.

Taste is definitely malt-based, and light in body — easy to drink and packed with flavor. This is a lager done the right way, and virtually an ideal template for the style. I could easily see downing a few of these anytime, even though it’s a deceptively big 6% ABV. A spot-on brew, and certainly showing (again) that the Germans have the history and know-how to make a world-class beer.

Beer: Red Hook - Out Of Your Gourd Pumpkin Porter


Red Hook is a craft beer legend, beginning way back in 1981 -- long before the wonderful beer renaissance we're now blessed with. Having had visited the brewery in Woodinville, Washington many years ago, I can appreciate the history and quality of the brewery's offerings through the years.

In my opinion, there's always room for more pumpkin beers. And while most "Fall" short of perfection, it's always fun to try another warm, spiced ale made with what may be America's favorite squash.

Now, Red Hook has a nice twist on the usual pumpkin ale. Melding pumpkin and Fall spices with a dark and roasty porter (rather than a regular ale), Red Hook’s Pumpkin Porter also adds maple syrup for an added dimension. And at a relatively light 5.8% ABV, this is a drinkable and session-worthy seasonal.

My tasting begins with the pouring, and Out Of Your Gourd pours an opaque black with slight ruby highlights. I get a thick head of tan suds, giving way to cloudy tree-line lacing.

The aroma is definitely heavier Wintery spice (cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice), with only a token touch of pumpkin on the palate. I would’ve liked a little more of the pureed pumpkin to show itself here.

Taste is rich and spiced, with, again, the pumpkin not being as prominent as I’d like. The maple syrup also seems a bit submerged, though I do get a nice roasted element from the porter underneath all the spices. Overall a solid Fall/pumpkin brew, but not one of the best.