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Hofbräu Oktoberfest

Staatliches Hofbräuhaus

Style: Oktoberfest/Märzen
ABV: 6.3%

Rings’s Rating:
one beerone beerone beerone beerone beer   (Outstanding within its style.)

Pair With:
This is arguably one of Germany’s most famous beers, at least by image. Thoughts of Germany inevitably lead to visions of Oktoberfest, big mugs of bier and lederhosen and no tourist pilgrimage to Munich is complete without a visit to the original Hofbräuhaus am Platzl.

In reality, Hofbräu is one of the Munich “Big Six” breweries, along with Spaten/Franziskaner, Löwenbräu, Augustiner, Hacker-Pschorr and Paulaner. It’s one of two, along with Augustiner, that is still owned by Bavarians. In fact, Hofbräu, which is loosely translated as the “royal brew” or “court brew” is actually owned by the State of Bavaria, which is akin to the state of Texas actually owning a brewery. It’s Hofbräukeller is the second-largest tent at Oktoberfest, and traditionally one of the randiest.

The brewery itself was founded in the late 16th Century to service the royal residence which still stands around the corner. Its beer hall is one of Munich’s oldest, consisting of a courtyard, huge main floor hall & restaurant, and three stories of halls and rooms above. Throughout its long history, visitors have included Mozart Lenin, Hitler, JFK, among many others (although some of the stories may or may not be entirely based in complete truth). What is certain is that the Münchner Kindle, a rather mischievous character symbol of Munich, sits in the main Biergarten to keep tabs on patrons.

The brand is now franchised and Hofbräuhauses exist throughout the world, including several in the United States. The recently opened Chicago version joins Pittsburgh, Las Vegas, Milwaukee, Miami, Houston and other cities as a “taste” of Bavaria on these shores. In my experience, the beer is usually pretty good and relatively authentic in each of these locations, but the food is a pretty poor replica.

Regardless, their Oktoberfest beer is readily available in the U.S. as an import, and while I sampled this several months ago, I hadn’t found the time to upload my review until now. I have to preface this by disclosing that the export versions of these beers are probably more traditional than what I’ve experienced at the actual Oktoberfest, where the brews tend to be pretty much a pale helles style lager. This version, along with most other imported and U.S. brewed versions of the style, are more in the direction of a true märzen … and delightfully so.

This pours very clean with a soft, fluffy white head that retains itself relatively well. The color is clear yellow with a bready aroma, exactly as expected. The nose is malty and rather chunky for a lager, jumping to a crisp dry bite and long bready finish. This is surprisingly tasty for an imported lager (although pretty tame in comparison to most American craft beers). The flavors are clean, subtly rolling and balanced—withstanding a hint of light struck on the nose. In short, it was better than I anticipated and absolutely worthy of a session.


Reviewed by Rings on February 6, 2013.
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