Tuesday, November 22, 2011

2011 FatCat Oktoberfest Shootout Results!

October has come and gone but FatCat is hanging on to it with an Oktoberfest Shootout!  I gathered up as many Oktoberfests as my pocket book could handle.  Several of my choices were dictated by whether or not they were available in a build your own six pack.  We ended up with 10 brews.   I did manage to forget the Sam Adams and Ayinger in my fridge so we should have had 12.  OOOPS.  Going into this shootout my personal favorite was Paulaner followed very closely by the semi-local Free State.  Can America’s craft brewers keep pace with the age old brewing prowess of the Germans?  I gathered 4 familiar faces as well as a craft brew rookie to sort it out.  As with all other shootouts this is a blind tasting meaning we had no idea what beer we were tasting.  We ranked them with a score of 1-5 (5 being the best) based on whether we liked one beers taste better than the others.  None of us are, or claim to be beer judges of any kind but we do drink a lot of different beers.  With that being said this was a ton of fun and if you don’t agree with us you should have your own shootout.  It’s awesome!

The winners are:

1t.  Summit                                  24.0pts
1t.  Free State                               24.0pts
2t.  Paulaner                                 21.0pts
2t.  Magic Hat Ourtoberfest         21.0pts
5.  Schlafly                                   19.5pts 
6.  Leinenkugel                            19.0pts
7.  Bobs 47                                   18.0pts
8.  Spaten                                     17.5pts
9.  Weihenstephaner                    15.5pts
10.  FatCat                                    14.0pts

FatCat's Favorites:
Free State    5.0pts
Summit       4.5pts
Magic Hat   4.0pts

Super Spiker Andrew's Favorites:
Spaten         5.0pts
Paulaner      5.0pts
Freestate     4.0pts

Greg's Favorites:
Freestate       5.0pts
Summit         4.5pts
Leinenkugel  4.0 pts

Big Ed's Favorites:
Summit       4.5pts
Schlafly      3.5pts

Super Dave's Favorites:
Freestate     5.0pts
Bobs 47      4.5pts
Summit      4.0pts

Honey Lager Jimmy's Favorites: 
Magic Hat  5.0pts
Paulaner     4.0pts
Summit      4.0pts


The Aftermath!
Well we were all over the board on this one.  The German varieties seemed to be much lighter in color with slightly more bitterness than the American versions.  The American versions tended to be sweeter with more hop character.  The Summit Oktoberfest proved to be exceptional as is the case with most of their offerings.  This was the 10th beer we tasted and it was getting dark.  What does that mean?  We were outdoors and I had to forgo detailed notes in the name of ranking beers in a timely fashion.  Unfortunately, the only notes I took were “good malt”.  Sorry guys.  Summit has been a solid addition to our local beer market so embrace our blessing and grab a Summit next time your at the store. 

One of my favorites held up for me and that is the Free State Octoberfest.  The Free State is a superb brew that puts a slight variation in the typical Oktoberfest style with some grainy chewiness in the middle of the palate.  It makes most other Oktoberfests seem thin and watery by comparison.  It also has some hop character at the finish to help even it out. 

The Paulaner was my #1 pick coming into this shootout.  It actually didn’t make it in my top 3 which surprised me.  Of course that’s the magic of a blind tasting, all preferences are left at the door.  The Paulaner sports an absolute silky mouthfeel followed by a stellar malt profile.  It is not near as grainy as the Free State but has solid munich character with plenty of residual sweetness.  The Paulaner finishes with some muted bitterness but was not “skunky” like some of the other German versions.  Tied with the Paulaner was the Magic Hat Ourtoberfest. 

The Ourtoberfest was by far the sweetest brew in this group which made it delicious but also made it seem out of place.  It had a good caramel maltiness followed by what I thought was a hint of cinnamon.  Even though it was sweeter than the others, it did have very good complexity with different levels of sweetness throughout the palate.


What happened to FatCat’s Oktoberfest?  Carbonation, or lack there of is what happened.  My Oktoberfest was not carbonated very well = FatCat fail.  I was very disappointed because I thought my Oktoberfest had a solid malt character that could stand up to the commercial brews.  However, my brew could not get past the initial flat character to get to the malt profile.  FAIL!  Oh well I’ll kick up the carbonation and knock out my Oktoberfest 1 liter mugfulls at a time. 

I drank the Ayinger after the shootout and I think it would have faired very well.  I would put it in my top 3 Oktoberfests easy.

Hope everyone enjoyed the shootout results.


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