Beer Review 0497: Hacker-Pschorr Original Oktoberfest

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Hacker-Pschorr, located in Munich, traces its roots back to 1417, nearly 100 years before the Reinheitsebot Beer Purity Law, an order which dictated the only ingredients that could be used to make beer were water, barley, and hops. (Yeast had yet to discovered.) Yeah, that’s a really long time to be making beer.

Fast forward a little to the 18th century, when Joseph Pschorr bought the Hacker brewery from his father-in-law. Pschorr also founded a brewery under his name, so there were two different breweries that he owned — Hacker and Pschorr. Mr. Pschorr had two sons, and each inherited a brewery. They remained separate businesses until 1972, when combined to make Hacker-Pschorr.

For over 580 years, the brewing process has remained unchanged. Their most popular offering, Hacker-Pschorr Weisse, has always retained the same recipe using spring water, Hallertau hops, and a proprietary yeast strain.

Hacker-Pschorr Oktoberfest dates back to the origins of the celebration — Ludwig I, the Crown Price of Bavaria, decided all of Bavaria should celebrate his wedding. So, in 1810, he commissioned Munich brewers to develop special beers to commemorate the ceremony. Known as Oktoberfest today, it’s celebrated worldwide, yet only the original six Munich breweries that first produced the celebratory beer are invited to serve their beer during the celebration in Munich. Hacker-Pschorr is one of those breweries; their Oktoberfest, which is brewed year-round because of popularity, is produced with barley from the Bavarian countryside. The brew comes in at 5.8% ABV (alcohol by volume).

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Pouring made for an average size, soapy head that quickly diminished. Color of the beer was in between dark golden and light amber; the body was crystal clear and featured no particles or sediment. Lacing was fair, leaving a decent amount of soapy film on the side of the glass.

The nose is spot on for an Oktoberfest, with lots of caramel, sweet bread, biscuit malt along with plenty of grain and wheat. There’s a small but detectable hop presence that is herbal and spicy, and it even has a bit of faded orange peel in there. It’s all supported by an earthen yeast. Very pleasant and inviting.

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The taste is a bit bland to start, with watered-down caramel and a bit of a papery, cracker-like flavor. It’s a strange start and off-putting but the beer does open up significantly to warm notes of sweet caramel, orange peel, and wheat. There’s not much complexity here and the body is light, with a thin, foamy mouthfeel. On the finish, we’ve got sweet bread and just a slight edge of spicy, herbal, lightly bitter hops, and residual burnt orange peel. It’s clean and sets the stage for the next sip.

Honestly, for a beer with such a storied history, I was disappointed. After a shaky start, the beer did improve; however, that paper/cardboard flavor is enough for me to not really want to return. It’s easy drinking, non-offensive, but I’ve certainly had better from the style.

Hacker-Pschorr Original Oktoberfest, 81 points. Price: $1.99 US for one 11.2 oz. bottle.

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