Food & drink

Craft beer: Hold your own Oktoberfest with Hacker-Pschorr's Oktoberfest Märzen and Hofbrau Dunkel

Hofbrau Dunkel
Paul McConville

I have been to Munich once and if there are two things you must do, one of them is drink the local beer and the other is stare intently at the Rathaus-Glockenspiel in the Marienplatz at certain times of the day to see a cherished fable played out in the form of moving puppets and strategically chimed bells.

It's one of those 'must-dos' which, once done, probably holds little appeal for a repeat viewing whereas Bavarian beer can constantly supply new discoveries.

Now is the time of year when the Bavarian capital is usually thronged with beer-swilling, lederhosen-clad visitors, but for the second year running, Oktoberfest has been shelved.

Lager also gets shelved on a regular basis, but that's usually over a matter of weeks in order to bring about the smooth conditioning.

A grabbed a couple of bottles of Bavaria's finest last week, eschewed the lederhosen and got tucked in.

First up was Hacker-Pschorr's Oktoberfest Märzen, a beer brewed in March, shelved for the summer and released for the annual festivities.

Marzen is slightly darker from your standard straw-coloured, sparkly lagers and that hints at the deeper malt profile. This one pours an autumnal brown and amber colour in the glass and has a lovely, sweet toffee malt running through it.

Lagers are usually light on the bitterness and this is no exception, but what bitterness there is has an earthy, herby vibe to it and there's even the slightest hint of warming spice.

It's strong enough at 5.8 per cent, but there's little indication of that strength and a few of these could easily wash down a bag of pretzels.

Hofbrau have been knocking out beer at the behest of the Bavarian government for centuries and the fact that they are one of a few of state-owned breweries in the region tells you how seriously they take their beer in southern Germany.

I cracked open a bottle of their dunkel and can report that powers-that-be in Munich are getting a great return on their investment.

Dunkel is a dark lager and this 5.5 per cent looks almost like a porter in the glass. There is enough light peeping through, though, to show that it's a lager.

There's lots of malty sweetness from this one too as well as a few dried fruit flavours like raisin and dates. Probably a good one to go alongside some smoked sausage and a bit of sauerkraut.

Prost...

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Food & drink