Blind Oktoberfestbier Tasting – Munich breweries on top!


Nothing shakes preconceived notions about beer quite like a blind tasting. To coincide with the Oktoberfest on the Wies’n in Munich last week (and the countless copycat events around Germany…), the Berlin specialist beer store, Hopfen & Malz hosted a blind tasting of the Oktoberfestbier/Märzen being brewed for this time of year.

The aim was specifically to pit four ‘genuine’ Munich Oktoberfestbiers (those that are allowed to use this on the label) against beers brewed in the Festbier/Märzen style from breweries in other regions (Thüringen, Franken and the Schwarzwald).


Style Note: idealised BJCP versus German reality

Many brewers outside of Germany, particularly those closely adhering to the BJCP style guidelines, have an ideal of the Oktoberfestbier/Märzen stlye as being a stronger, amber version of a German lager, with a pronounced malty character. The reality is that in Germany, the Oktoberfestbier demarcation only indicates strength of the beer (e.g. original gravity > 13.5%/ ABV > 5.4%). It is entirely up to the brewer if they brew with 100% pilsner malt or add significant amounts of Münchner malt or any caramel malts. In the last decades, Munich breweries in particular have tended to brew paler versions exclusively with pilsner malt.


Group Results

The following are the combined group results from all five participants, using the German scoring system (1=very good, 6=very bad):

  1. Spaten Oktoberfestbier (ABV 5,9%) – average score: 2,6
  2. Augustiner Oktoberfestbier (ABV 6,0%) – average score: 2,7
  3. Loffelder Märzen (ABV 5,5%) – average score:  2,8
  4. Ur-Saalfelder (ABV 5,6%) – average score:  2,9
  5. Paulaner Oktoberfestbier (ABV 6,0%) – average score:  3,1
  6. Alpirsbacher Klosterstoff (ABV 5,9%) – average score:  3,6
  7. Hummel Festbier (ABV 5,6%) – average score:  3,7
  8. Hacker-Pschorr Oktoberfestbier (ABV 5,8%) – average score:  3,9


Personal Results

My own results only aligned very broadly with the averages. Deviations include my strong preference for Paulaner (1st instead of 5th place) and lower ranking of the winning Spaten (to 5th place).

  1. Paulaner Oktoberfestbier (ABV 6,0%) – my score: 2,0
  2. Augustiner Oktoberfestbier (ABV 6,0%) – my score: 2,5
  3. Ur-Saalfelder (ABV 5,6%) – my score: 2,5
  4. Hummel Festbier (ABV 5,6%) – my score: 2,5
  5. Spaten Oktoberfestbier (ABV 5,9%) – my score: 3,0
  6. Loffelder Märzen (ABV 5,5%) – my score: 3,5
  7. Hacker-Pschorr Oktoberfestbier (ABV 5,8%) – my score: 4,0
  8. Alpirsbacher Klosterstoff (ABV 5,9%) – my score: 4,5

Analysis & Conclusions

Comments on the Group Results

All of the scores averages are in a narrow range between 2,6 points and 3,9 points. This also reflects the feedback from the small tasting group throughout the tasting, that this is not a type of beer that the participants would drink regularly. None of the beers was praised highly and three of the beers were generally judged of a lower quality than the others (Alpirsbacher, Hummel and Hacker-Pschorr).

First and second place go to two Munich breweries: Spaten and Augustiner. Both of these beers are very pale straw colour and crystal clear – visually indistinguishable from a Helles. Neither have any pronounced malt complexity, with only pilsner malt detectable.

The participants all agreed that the Hacker-Pschorr was unpleasant to drink. More heavy-bodied, with a pronounced bitter finish, it would be difficult to imagine finishing a 1.0L Mass of this beer.


Comments on my Personal Results

Although it ended up in 5th place in the group results, the Paulaner was my personal favourite. This beer had a hint of vanilla in the nose, medium body, with a hint of butter and a superbly balanced finish.

The Ur-Saalfelder was noteworthy as it was the only beer with a pronounced malt complexity – reminiscent of a nutty brown ale. Again, this is the brewers formulation, neither more or less appropriate for a German Märzen. For anyone looking for a Festbier with a difference, I would recommend tracking this down.

I rated the Alpirsbacher Kloster-Stoff poorly (4.5 points), as I detected flaws that were entirely absent in the other seven beers: DMS and esters upset the balance and it had an unpleasant acidic finish.


Berlin Craft Beer moves away from to blog/Facebook/Twitter

Dear members of the Berlin Craft Beer group,

The beer scene in Berlin has progressed significantly since the Berlin Craft Beer group was formed over three years ago. This is a message to inform you about the changes taking place this week and why the group will dissolve shortly on


History of the Group:

Although I have been tracking all interesting beer locations in the Berlin Craft Beer map since 2008, I founded the group on in May 2012 in order to have a place for beer enthusiasts to meet and explore the microbreweries around Berlin. Remember: at this time, not a single Berlin brewery had a continuous Pale Ale, IPA or Stout in their regular lineup and ‘craft beer’ was pretty much an unused expression in Berlin. How much has changed in the last three years!

In 2013, I was invited to give tutored tastings of British ales at Hudson’s Café in Kreuzberg (now closed). The interest in these sessions led to more tastings throughout 2014, many at Szimpla and Getränkefeinkost Berlin, with several more technical sessions, deep dives, brewing lessons, the founding of Berlin Homebrewers and eventually Berlin’s first annual Homebrewing Competitition earlier this year.

Since Berlin now has numerous dedicated beer bars and a thriving community, with regular events being organised on Facebook and other platforms, is no longer suitable for dedicated beer events. You will have noticed that there have been no unique events posted to the group in the last six months, as there simply have been so many beer events taking place every week.



  1. The Berlin Craft Beer blog will continue to be updated at
  2. Berlin Craft Beer updates on Twitter here: LINK
  3. Join the Berlin Craft Beer community on Facebook here: LINK
  4. …. but the group will be closed permanently at the end of this week


And finally…. thank you for your support

Thank you for all the support, interest and laughs over the last few years! I have met several hundred beer lovers, made many friends through the community and swapped many experiences with other beer enthusiasts.


Best regards & Prost!


Szimpla Kaffee Budapest becomes Craft Beer Bar, specialising in East European beers

Szimpla Kaffeehaus Budapest on the corner of Boxhagener Platz in Friedrichshain (map link) has long been known as a cosy place to hang out, with strong connections to Hungary and the east European community. Behind the scenes, Szimpla has also hosted beer tastings and supported events for homebrewers.

Building on this success Szimpla has launched the new Craft Beer Bar with a specific focus on new and unique craft beers Eastern Europe (especially Hungary and Poland) as well as from some familiar Berlin craft beer breweries.

Watch out for special beer events, like the Hungarian tap takeover this Thursday, 09.07.2015 (Facebook link), with 7 kegged beers from Hungary being served in parallel.

Results Announcement for Berlin Homebrewing Competition 2015


The following are the results of the 2015 Competition, as selected by the Competition Judges.

Congratulations to all winners. Many thanks to all brewers for entering!!


Category 1: Pils & Helles

  1. PH004 / Jörg Schloemer with ‘Vienna Calling’ entered as Vienna Lager
  2. PH003 / Tilo Schwarzbach with ‘U Cerneho Konicka’ Bohemian Pilsner

Category 2: Wheat/Weizen beers

  1. WB001 / Sokratis Theodosiadis with ‘Random Encounter’ Hefeweizen
  2. WB002 / Dirk Nolte with ‘WHIPA’ Weizenbock

Category 3: Pale Ale & IPA

  1. PI015 / Jörg Schloemer with ‘Astro Pop’’ American Pale Ale
  2. PI016 / Daniel McIlmoyle with ‘BOOBY (Best of the Ordinary Bitters You’ll ever drink)’
  3. Special Mention (close 3rd place): PI029 / Clement Bel with ‘Citrarillo IPA’

Category 4: Brown Ale, Porter, Stout

  • BPS007 / Tilo Schwarzbach with ‘Schwarzer Winter’ Baltic Porter
  • BPS012 / Jörg Schloemer with ‘Dirty old town’ Extra Stout/Irish Stout


Overall Competition Winner: PH004 / Jörg Schloemer with ‘Vienna Calling’




  • Category Winners: All category winners can select 1kg of hops (up to 4 types) from Hobbybrauerversand (Hopfen & Mehr).
  • Runners-Up: All runners-up can select 25kg bag of malt from Hobbybrauerversand (Hopfen & Mehr).
  • Competition Winner: The competition winner, ‘Vienna Calling’ will be brewed at Heidenpeters brewery, Berlin in the autumn 2015.

Many thanks to Johannes Heidenpeter & Hobbybrauerversand for their generous sponsorship!

Beer registrations now closed for first annual Berlin Homebrewing Competition 2015


Registration is now closed for the first annual Berlin Homebrewing Competition 2015.

A total of 66 beers have been registered by Berlin/Brandenburg homebrewers, in the following categories:

 Competition Category # Beers Registered
 Pilsner & Helles  8
 Weizenbier  4
 Pale Ale & India Pale Ale  31
 Brown Ale, Porter & Stout  23
————— ————

Beers entries must be hand-delivered in two weeks, on Saturday, 02.05.2015.

Beer judging will take place at the end of May. Judges will be selected through technical and sensory tests in the next weeks.

Full details about the competition are on the official website: LINK