Fearful Symmetries

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05 October, 2015

Thank You For Our Daily Liquid Bread: Oktoberfest by Lazy Monk Brewing



I spent some time over the weekend at Stalzy's Deli's Oktoberfest celebration which featured an abundance of both domestic and imported Oktoberfest beers as well as a curious excess of Anglo folk and country-flavored music. Having spent time quaffing Oktoberfests or autumnal beers from Karben4 (Oaktober Ale was a bit heavy-handed on the oak but still good), Summit (sprightly and bubbly – the champagne of festbiers), Schell's (a bit less malty than I'm used to yet very tasty), Next Door Brewing (NextDoorberfest ale was earthy/nutty with a vinuous element to boot), Paulaner, und Hofbräu (classic step-mashed {?}, melanoidin goodness), one would think that I'd have reached peak Märzen and needed a bumptious pale ale to recover from malt madness. Nein!

Lazy Monk Brewing opened up in Eau Claire about four years ago. The brewery was founded by Leos Frank, a native of The Czech Republic who began homebrewing when he discovered a dearth of Czech-style beers in his adopted homeland. The brewery flies under the Wisconsin craft beer radar as it has limited distribution and Frank focuses on malty lagers instead of hoppy pale ales, although they do have a couple of IPAs. To the best of my knowledge Lazy Monk began distributing outside of the Chippewa Valley only last year. Still, business is apparently good as the brewery will be moving to a new location in Eau Claire next year.

I was at the brewery a couple of months ago and rather impressed at how they took an industrial space and had transformed it into a fair simulacrum of what I think a Central European tavern would look like. Mr. Frank was even behind the bar. The Dulcinea and I enjoyed a flight before delving into a couple pints. Even I must declare the Rye IPA to be the finest in Eau Claire.

Mr. Frank's Oktoberfest was a beautiful gold and crystal clear. Unlike my last Oktoberfest, I managed to get a nice head with about an inch of creamy off-white foam in my glass that lingered for a while. There were a few stray bubbles going up my glass. The aroma was full of bready scents as I expected but there was also a modicum of sweetness to it that was like honey and apricots. I could smell no hops but admit that I had a slightly stuffy nose no doubt because of the transition to autumn.

While the hops may have been absent from the nose, they were certainly present on my tongue after taking a sip. They had a moderately strong herbal/peppery flavor which complemented the clean bread and bread crust flavors of the malt. I tasted little carbonation and also found little sweetness which was rather surprising given the sweetness in the aroma.

It finished fairly dry with that herbal hop bitterness lingering for a short time. I think the carbonation added a just little bite here as well.

The beer was a bit hoppier than I'm used to for the style but I suspect this is simply because the malt flavors here were rather subdued. I appreciated the bready flavors along with the absence of sweetness but the beer simply tasted a little watery. The rich malt flavors were rather more in the background than is to my taste. Because of this the beer had a medium-light body instead of one a little heavier which is what I'd expect. This medium-light body coupled with hops that are more herbal than spicy also makes the beer a bit more easy-drinking than a typical Oktoberfest. My can went down like a helles.

This is by no means a bad beer – the malt was very tasty and I really enjoyed the mellower/more herbal hops. It just lacks the fullness I expect from the style.

Junk food pairing: As I have determined previously (thanks Curd Girl!), deep-fried cheese curds are the junk food pairing par excellence for the Oktoberfest. The salt really throws the wonderful bready malt flavors into sharp relief.

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|| Palmer, 1:52 PM

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