Oktoberfest Blind Bier Tasting 2018

A group of AGU members got together and had an Oktoberfest beer tasting to compare ours to the commercial versions available to us. Kyle, Rob, Charles, and Tom met at Andy’s place where he offered to host and pour the samples. Only Andy knew which beer was which.

We decided to rank each beer on a scale from 1-5 and then compare the top 5 beers against each other for a final winner. We had 19 total Oktoberfest style beers in the sample. One was our AGU beer. Four beers were from Munich breweries. The rest were a random sample of local and national craft offerings. And Rob thrrew in one IPA, just to keep us honest, but I’ve removed it from the table below. Here’s a complete list of the Fest beers we sampled ranked by their first round scoring.

  1. 21 pts- All Grain Underground
  2. 19 pts- Warsteiner
  3. 19 pts- Weihenstephaner Fest
  4. 18 pts- Paulaner
  5. 18 pts- Ayinger Marzen
  6. 18 pts- Brooklyn
  7. 18 pts- Bell’s
  8. 17 pts- Modern
  9. 17 pts- UCBC
  10. 17 pts- Main Street 4204
  11. 17pts- Hoss
  12. 16 pts- Civil Life
  13. 16 pts- Public House
  14. 16 pts- Left Hand
  15. 16 pts- Santa Fe
  16. 15 pts- Schlafly
  17. 12 pts- Schlafly Imperial 2017
  18. 11 pts- Mother’s
  19. 8 pts- Old Bakery

I can say the results surprised me. However, at this point in the tasting we still didn’t know which beer was which. I totaled the scores and told Andy the top five beers. We had a four way tie for fourth place, so I used some subjective scoring criteria and blindly took out two beers, to get us to the Final Five. Here’s the Final scoring. Note- we added the first round scoring to the second round for a total final score.

  1. 35 pts- Weihenstephaner Fest
  2. 34 pts- All Grain Underground
  3. 34 pts- Warsteiner
  4. 33 pts- Paulaner
  5. 33 pts- Ayinger Marzen

To be fair, we were all feeling the effects of the alcohol by the time we got to the Final Five. I was the only one that was aware of my first round scoring, and I ended up scoring all the beers the same in the second round.

Charlie and Rob scored the AGU beer lower in the Finals. Again, to be honest, we were all feeling pretty good from the first round.

Andy knew which was ours, so his score is biased, but it was averaged in to the rest of our blind scores. Additionally, Andy only scored one beer a perfect 5 in the first round, the Ayinger, and he scored one perfect 5 in the second round, the Warsteiner. he scored the AGU beer with a 4 in both rounds, so he was trying to give an honest assessment.

All of us scored the AGU beer with a 4 in the first round except Kyle who scored it with a 5. He handed out four scores of 5, the AGU, UCBC, Modern, and Civil Life. He didn’t vote in the second round because of a prior engagement.

Charlie, Rob and myself handed out no 5’s in the first round, although Charlie did give 5’s to the Paulaner and the Weihenstephaner Fest in the second round. I think he was trying to guess which beer was ours and he guessed wrong.

Needless to summarize, our beer competed well. We blindly picked it number one in the first sitting, and it finished 1 point behind the overall winner. From my perspective, I didn’t taste anything that I thought was perfect, but several of the beers exhibited characteristics that I look for in this style. The better beers were malty and bright with a soft lager “skunk” scrubbed clean from appropriate aging. I was most impressed with Paulaner, Warsteiner, Brooklyn, Bell’s, Santa Fe, and of course the AGU beers.

Now perhaps we have brewed a beer to our palate, but if that’s the criticism, then I’ll take it as a compliment. I can honestly say I didn’t know which beer was ours or that our beer made it to the Final Five when it was happening. When Andy pointed out that the Final Five beers were all from Munich besides ours, and that those were the only Munich beers in the sample, I was stunned. That wasn’t a coincidence, though my blind cut of Bell’s and Brooklyn’s beers may have been tainted by my preference or (sub)conscious recognition of the German beers.

No matter how I look at it, I think this tasting showed me that we make an outstanding Fest beer that compares favorably with the Munich’s finest as well as domestic craft versions. I honestly think that our long, traditional lager of this beer is something that the commercial breweries don’t generally do because of the expense, but it reflects favorably in our beer.

We make some pretty good beer.

Tom

September 2018

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