Beer Journal

A quasi-daily examination of beer and things related to beer.

Sunday, October 24, 2004


For the amount of drinking that I do, it's pretty amazing that I can't recall the last time I had such an abhorrently painful hangover, as I do now. Or, perhaps I can't remember the last time this happened because of the amount of drinking that I do. In any event, the reason my noggin feels like it's prepetually being split open with an axe is because last night marked the return of the single best thing about the Rio Grando Vally: Oktoberfest.

Now, meeting the high-rung standard of last year's festival, (which was also sponsered by the McAllen South Rotary Club), would an incredibly difficult task, and this year's fest was pretty impressive in its own right. The most notable change from last year was how the McAllen Civic Center was decorated with trees and hanging Christmas lights. Such decorations, while usually insignificant, created an ambiance that lended itself to a traditional Oktoberfest scene. As for changes that matter, there were plenty, some good some bad.

The organizers of this year's festival decided to forgo the usual buffet line, and instead set up a number of food tables, each serving a different item. Like last year, there was turkey legs, sausage, cheeses, fruit and saurkrawt. In addition to all that, brawtwersts were available. And anyone who reads this blog probably has a good idea about how well that food goes with beer.

As for the beer, there was a plenty. Domestics were on tap, but the coup de grace was the table offering German and specialty Oktoberfest beers. While adding to the overall scene, I would have appretiated a return trip by the Sam Adams Winter Mix Pack, but they did have SA Oktoberfest, so I was happy about that. (Even though it is my least favorite SA.)

Finally, there were to giant televisions set up outside on the patio. This insured that my night of drinking and eating could be accompanied by frantic pacing and nervous jibberish whilt I watched the Red Sox win game one of the World Series.

Sunday, October 10, 2004

JW Dundee's American Pale Ale

Style: American Pale Ale
Brewer: High Falls Brewery
Location: Rochester, New York, USA
Alcohol: 5.3%

I usually rate ales, especially pale ales, as my favorite beers around. So when I found that JW Dundee, the brewer of Honey Brown, a fairly decent beer itself, had released their own version of the drinking standard, I was more than eager to give it a try. Unfortunately, this version of the drink fails in a pretty key area the sharp, bitter hoppiness often associated with the beer.

Now, some brewers tone down the harsh biting nature of ales in order to appeal to a broader, less mature audience. For instance, Samuel Adams Boston Ale offers only a hint of sharpness, but does so without sacrificing taste or aroma. JW Dundee's, however, tries to compensate for those losses by making a sweeter drink, a sensation rarely associated with ales. As a whole, it succeeds at only being marginally better than most mass-produced beers.

Rating: 4.3

Saturday, October 02, 2004

Paulaner Oktoberfest-Marzen

Style: Amber Ale
Brewer: Paulaner Munchen
Location: Munich, Germany
alcohol: 5.8%

Paulaner Oktoberfest-Marzen is, according to the Paulaner website, the number one Oktoberfest beer in the world. Personally, that isn't much of a flattering distinction, because I'm not that big of a fan of Oktoberfest-style brews. But it is the time of year, so I figured I'd throw in some reviews that reflect the season's festivities.

The beer itself reflects the traditional sweet flavorings and light-hoppy feel that Oktoberfest drinkers are accustomed to. It is a very light -feeling drink that when tasted alone, has a rather unsatiating personality.

However, when Paulaner Oktoberfest-Marzen is paired with foods of similar origin, specifically brawts and German sausages, it takes on a whole new life. In those instances, the beer's subtle flavors work in cohesion with the flavors of the food. I suppose this is rather understandable, as Oktoberfest beers are brewed for the specific purpose of being consumed along with a cornucopia of traditional German foods.

Rating: 5.5 (alone), 6.5 (with brawts)