Craig Heap reviews Hofbrau’s Oktoberfestbier
It’s strong, it’s beer, and it’s brewed in Munich by the Germans for Oktoberfest. That’s all the preamble you need. In the glass, Hofbrau Oktoberfest is a clear, golden yellow. When I say clear, I mean transparent to the point of near invisibility. Well, aside from the thick, foaming head. It has the sort of brilliant, pillowy foam you would want on your stein.
There’s not much in the way of smell but what you do get is a wholesome, crop-of-the-land aroma, a blend of grain and bread, with a clean lager scent and a warming alcohol edge in the back.
Initially, this has a sweet, malty taste with a biscuit flavour – not the whole pack of biscuits, just one or two on the side. It’s balanced by a soft bitterness and carried well by the crisp, light to medium body. The strength, detected on the nose as an understated alcoholic scent, is there but it doesn’t get in the way. If anything it bypasses the mouth and makes itself known as a small fire in the belly.
There’s barely any aftertaste, but the surprising sweetness (my expectations were of something stronger and rougher) is pleasant and moreish, at least for the first half of the drink. With the lack of complexity it becomes a drudge to finish the whole serving.
There really is little else to say. Crisp, sweet, initially pleasant and then quickly boring. In warm weather, indeed, in its native context of the Oktoberfest festival, chugged from a stein in one hand and accompanied by a hock of meat in the other, this is probably a good drink. In miserable England, with the rain at the door, a pint glass in one hand and a TV remote in the other, there’s no delight in this beverage.