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Thursday, October 04, 2007

Scottish Oktoberfest

An Oktoberfest celebration at a Scottish-American restaurant! Ian Morrison, chef/owner of the Royal Mile Pub in Wheaton, Maryland, last evening hosted what he called an Oktoberfest Tournament.

About 30 participants tasted 12 Oktoberfest/Marzen beers (and a couple of ringers) in two flights, and voted on their favorites. Notice in the photo how Amanda (General Manager) is pouring a beer oh-so-carefully from a paper-wrapped bottle. She knew which was which; we didn't!

I correctly identified Clipper City's Balto MarzHon (embarrassing if I hadn't!). It tasted spot-on to me, what the GABF selected nation's best Vienna-style lager should be like: light amber hue, slightly sweet toasted malt character - like a toasted marshmallow - with a slight drying snap at the finish.

But Balto MarzHon wasn't the evening's consensus winner - that being one of the non-Fest biers: Flying Dog's Pumpkin beer! Samuel Adams Oktoberfest (last year's GABF Oktoberfest-style winner) also finished in the top tier. [UPDATE: Balto MarzHon wins gold at the GABF.]

To me, European beers shipped here, including Munich Oktoberfests, often manifest a stale character (aromas of cardboard). I don't mean to be harsh. Over there, the beers are the same beers, but fresher, delicious, not shipped and warehoused for seven weeks.

I correctly pegged the European imports except for one, and was pleasantly surprised. Spaten was soft, lightly toasted, quite delicious, and without that stale weeks-old flavor. Read Rob Kasper's Baltimore Sun review of the beer.

More photos from the evening.

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