A while back I tasted four of the six 'official' Oktoberfest beers in their bottled form, with Augustiner and Spaten being absent from the list. I've yet to see Augustiner knocking around, but I got my hands on a bottle of the Spaten Oktoberfestbier in O'Briens in Douglas. I'm a big fan of the original Spaten, so was looking forward to giving this one a go.
Spaten Oktoberfestier is pale, yellow and fizzy. Nothing untoward there. The nose finds oily hops and sugary grain sweetness, and not a whole lot else. The taste isn't much different, but it's very satisfying to find some mild bitterness in the folds of the mildly vegetal malty sweetness.
Nothing special, but nice and refreshing all the same.
Aside from this, I afforded myself the chance to retry the St. Bernardus Prior 8. I had this a while back, and while I'm sure I enjoyed it, I think it's evaluation suffered on the basis of unfair comparisons with it's big sister, the Abt 12.
The Prior 8 pours a dark red hue with a long-lasting creamy head. The aroma is bloody gorgeous. The first thign I notice is loads of juicy dark fruits and red berries, particularly raisins, as well as a hint of green apple. This is followed by a great earthy yeastiness, and the whole thing is propped up on a smooth and mild malt platform. The taste is equally beautiful, with chocolate malt opening proceedings, with the transition to the dark fruits punctuated with a touch of spice. The presence of the 8% ABV is mostly unnoticed, except for when it matters, as it produces a lovely sticky mouthfeel and syrupy finish.
For the seasoned beer explorer, Prior 8 won't throw up any real surprises or anything, but it's deliciously rich, very affordable, and an undeniably great beer.