In the world of beer each new year brings surprises. A good example is the Christian Moerlein Saengerfest Maibock which appeared at the end of spring, beautifully balanced with a generous, juicy malty palate with a floral note in the finish. As described in my original notes as “one of the best American beers sampled this year”.  But my perception is  biased perhaps, because I truly love bock beers, including the golden coloured ones, with a hint of honey-nectar in the nose.

The same can be said of Oktoberfest. Funny how matters sometimes work out. Only a week ago, minus a day, the temperature reached 100 degrees and people complained that it was too hot to be drinking Marzen. This was before a tropical storm in the Gulf of Mexico caused the season to turn in the Ohio Valley, and only 2 days later, I was out in the backyard drinking Samuel Adams Octoberfest with temperatures in the upper 50’s.

Some folks have complained about Oktoberfest beers appearing too early. Taste wise, this is sometimes true. When Samuel Adams version comes out at the beginning of August, it does not have the malty depth that it has now. Sampling a 22 ounce bottle each week of that month, it was fascinating to notice its development: from a very bright Nouveau creation where hops are in the forefront, to the malty depth and goodness found post-Labor Day, where the five malts have their say, as it were. As they say in cosmological physics: gravity has the final word.

The release of Hudepohl Oktoberfest Bier is joyous event for me, here in southwestern Ohio. It also compliments their Moerlein Fith &Vine Oktoberfest, which is also a tribute to Oktoberfest Zinzinnati. In fact much of this is a Cincinnati story. The revival of the Hudepohl name is a tribute to this city’s beer baron past. This version of Marzen, I do believe would make Ludwig Hudepohl II proud.

Guinness Black Lager: The beer experts continue to weigh in on this. Some go to great lengths to describe the appearance of the pour, totally ignoring the instructions from Guinness that this beer is designed to be served cold and consumed straight from the bottle. Which I did, and found it to be an alternative to Bud, Miller and Coors, very drinkable with moderate alcohol strength. Which is perhaps what Guinness is aiming at: a decent beer for the football-tailgating crowd. The question has arisen whether Guinness Black Lager reflects the character of the St. James Gate Brewery in Dublin. I would have to say yes. It will be interesting to see whether this first bottom fermented Guinness actually sells.

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