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Beer Reviews

Paulaner Brauhaus Oktoberfest Festbier, 6% ABV


Ah Oktoberfest!

A festival so fun its lasted 210 years! 

What's known as a Volksfest, or "People's Festival", the funfair was first organised in 1810 to celebrate the royal marriage of King Ludwig I and Princess Therese, and was hosted at the fields outside Munich's city gates. The funfair would be a time of celebration, where citizens were served Bavarian beer and food, horse races were held, amongst many other activities. It was so fun indeed that the festival has been held annually since - quite literally the King asked for a repeat for subsequent years - and continues to be held at the same fair grounds outside Munich.

Today it is one of the largest festivals held around the world, where a whopping 7.7 million litres of beer is served to festival attendees.


Oktoberfest held outside Munich. (Image Source: Oktoberfest.de)


Now traditionally, the beer served at Oktoberfest is known as the Marzenbier style - a dark lager that was made extra hoppy. This was necessary as it was brewed in the winter and had to pack in more alcohol and hops to serve as a preservative. It would then be stored in caves in wooden casks until it was summer and time to drink.

A shortage one year allowed for a variant to take its place - the Marzen - which was less hoppy and bitter, whilst also being more malty and sweeter.

Yet, in the course of Oktoberfest's 210+ year history, Paulaner would step in to reinvent tradition - it would introduce the Festbier, a beer that was less hearty and easier to quaff. It took off, and now is the most popular beer during Oktoberfest.


Paulaner's monastery origins. (Image Source: Wikipedia, Paulaner)


But what about Paulaner? Where did they come from?

Monks! Monks were cooler then - they made beer and ran pubs in the monastery's cloisters. Monks today could really step it up a notch.

Paulaner brewery was named after the Paulaner Order, which was a Roman Catholic order of friars first founded in Italy, but soon expanded across Western Europe. It was ultimately the Order's monastery in Munich that came up with the first Paulaner beer.

While no exact date of its establishment is known (who has time to record stuff down aside from brew recipes?), most folks simply put it as 1634, which was humorously the date of a complaint letter sent by civilian brewers to city council officials regarding competition from the monastery on the selling of beers.

Woah, woah, woah, hold these brewmaster monks back!

And they did - the brewery was restricted to only serving their beers to the public on the day celebrating the father of their order - April 2nd. This thus became known as "Father's Saint Beer" or St. Vater Bier, which eventually was shortened to Salvator.


Paulaner's Brauhaus in Munich. (Image Source: Oktoberfest.de)


Cleverly, these monks expressed a desire to show their gratitude to the city officials by inviting them to have the first one litre of beer to kick start the shindig.

Within three decades, the brewery was back in business, fully allowed to serve their beers with no restrictions.

As you might have noticed by now, these monks were outright gangsters! So it comes as no surprise that they would switch things up for Oktoberfest with their own Festbier. As it remains today, Paulaner is one of only six Munich breweries that are given the honour of serving beer during Oktoberfest.

Paulaner has obviously come a long way, and over the past few decades have opened Brauhaus' across Asia, in Beijing, Shanghai, Singapore and St. Petersburg. They seem to have a keen focus on the Eastern frontier for some reason.

And so this Oktoberfest, I was determined to head down to Singapore's own Paulaner Brauhaus to try the once a year Oktoberfest Festbier.

Let's get it!

Paulaner Brauhaus Oktoberfest Festbier, 6% ABV - Review


Tasting Notes

Color: Manuka Honey, Light Amber

Aroma: Starts off  mellow, with sweeter, denser notes of manuka honey, along with a light bready scent of the insides of freshly baked baguettes. There’s also a light yeastiness and unpasteurised rawness (think farmhouses!), like it was freshly dumped from a cask. 

Taste: Quite hefty in texture like honeyed water with a taste just as much - lots of raw honey, toasted baguette. There’s a light savouriness, actually not all that sweet. It’s accompanied by a lightly sour fermented taste like kombucha. More on hay and that unpasteurised farmhouse funkiness, also similar to brie cheese rinds.

Finish: More yeasty here, again more toasted bread crumbs, with that light farmhouse notes - mostly a continuation of the palate but alittle more drying.

However as it airs, it develops a much deeper and richer sweetness of manuka honey and lots of barley sugar sweetness - it’s almost mead like but with more malty buttery sweetness like that of maltose candy.


My Thoughts

Really enjoyable solid beer that strikes me as closest to a cask aged ale with all its raw, slightly funky farmhouse/kombucha/cheese rind quality that I find so fresh, along with the mellow honey sweetness and breadyness. 

It’s really flavourful, well-rounded and has such a good hefty texture - and so ridiculously drinkable, with just that much more complexity than any standard beer offers.

But at the same time what’s even more ridiculous is how it continues to develop and open up to become almost mead-like, turning a lot sweeter and herbal like manuka honey, whilst also packing in this glorious buttery, malty barley sugar sweetness that tasted like maltose candy - absolutely smashing!

Also it makes for a great food accompaniment - as it should be, it’s Oktoberfest!



My Rating: 8/10


Score/Rating Scale :

  • 9-10 : Exceptional, highly memorable, 10/10 would buy if I could.
  • 7-8 : Excellent, well above most whiskies, worth considering buy-zone.
  • 4-6 : Good, okay, alright; a few flaws, but acceptable; not bad, but not my personal preference; still worth trying, could be a buy if the price is right.
  • 1-3 : Not good; really did not enjoy; wouldn't even recommend trying.
  • 0 : Un-scored, might be damaged, new make, or very unusual.