Munich in Beijing

When I returned from my visit to the US, there was only a few days left of the “Oktoberfest” (from the 9th to 25th) at Beijing’s Paulaner Bräuhaus (普拉纳啤酒坊) in the Kempinski Hotel/Lufthansa Center.  The place is expensive, and the food is merely better-than-average (for a western restaurant in China). But I really wanted to get another taste of some of the best Märzenbier I’ve actually ever tasted ANYWHERE.

Granted, I’ve never had the pleasure of going to Munich itself, but I’d had the Marzenbier here in Beijing for the past two years, and it was great both times.  Last year, I even wrote a glowing review of it.

Furthermore, none of the six official breweries at the Munich Oktoberfest (慕尼黑十月啤酒节) actually even brew this style of beer for the festival itself anymore.  What gets served at the Wies’n nowadays is more akin to a slightly stronger version of helles, which has a pale yellow color.  Thus the only way to get a “traditional” copper-amber-colored marzenbier these days is when the same German breweries bottle or keg their “Oktoberfest” beers for the EXPORT market.  Or, you can get an American-brewed Oktoberfest, which tends to follow the more “traditional” * amber style (although often maltier, hoppier and higher in alcohol than even the originals – as brash American exuberance tends to creep in).  OR you can be lucky enough to live in Beijing…

*I put “traditional” in quotation marks because during the original Oktoberfest in 1810, all beer in Germany was still dark brown or black in color.  Similar to the development of English pale ales, the widespread lightening of beer color didn’t happen until after the Industrial Revolution.  It was only in 1872 that an Oktoberfestbier was brewed in the then-emerging Vienna style, using paler malts that produced a transparent, amber-colored beer.

Anyway, my verdict is that this year’s festbier was simply “ok”.  Perhaps it wasn’t so fresh anymore, since the celebration had already been going on for a few weeks?  Then again, marzenbiers were originally intended for storing several months.  It was also served slightly warmer than I expect, even for an amber lager (which I usually prefer very cool but not ice cold).  This brought out more fusel character than I remember from before.

Meanwhile, the mini-tent was booked weeks ahead of time, so I couldn’t get a seat.  But I did manage to peek in and take some pictures:


(more pictures, with captions/commentary, here)

1 comment to Munich in Beijing

  • Hi there – had a question about Dead Guy and whether I can find it in Shenzhen – tried the Dxcel site but my email keeps getting bounced back…
    thanks! christie

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