Tag Archives: Vienna Red Märzen and Oktoberfest Beers

41. Boston Samuel Adams Lager

It’s Friday evening, the weekend has begun, and I think it might be time to reach into the fridge and randomly select a beer from the growing 300 Beers queue.

Sure enough, out comes this famous American lager, and having had a run of excellent American beers recently, including two from the Brooklyn Brewery and three from San Francisco’s Anchor, trying our first offering from the Boston Brewing Company seems like an appropriate start to the weekend.


Having already met the very tasty Brooklyn Lager, I’m not at all surprised when Sam Adams pours a lovely, rich amber colour. It looks like we may have another Vienna-style lager on our hands, though The Book points out that this is more in the Bavarian March style. The subtleties are left as an exercise for the reader.

There’s a small white head which doesn’t stick around for long, and a promisingly malty aroma, balanced out with some gentle hops.

Sam Adams is a really full-bodied, grown-up beer with a heavy, malty backbone and an explosion of caramel and hops in the mouth, followed by a remarkably long, pleasing bitter finish.

There’s so much flavour here, and this is the absolute antithesis of the usual emaciated, gassy pale lagers that we’re all too familiar with in this country. This is a really top notch beer, and at a sane 4.8%, it’s sessionable enough too.

Just when I’m about to praise the Americans for brewing another winner, I notice an anomaly, in that this is a 330ml bottle rather than the traditional US 12 fluid ouncer. And there it is on the back label: brewed by Shepherd Neame, Faversham, Kent. This one hasn’t come far at all!

Perhaps one day I’ll be able to check out an original US-brewed Sam Adams for comparison, but for now, this will have to do.

Facts and Figures

Brewery: Shepherd Neame, Faversham, Kent, England
Style: Vienna Red, Märzen and Oktoberfest Beers
ABV: 4.8%
Found at: Sainsbury’s, Westow Street, London SE19
Dispense: 330ml Bottle

39. Negra Modelo

Time for a little geographical diversity, as we come to sample the first of the 300 Beers to originate in Mexico, an interesting cerveza named Negra Modelo.

Hailing as it does from the land that brought us such beers as Sol and Corona, both chronically lacking in flavour and excitement, and being brewed by Grupo Modelo, the giant brewery responsible for the aforementioned Corona, we may fear the worst.

Of course, I’ve had such fears before and they’ve turned out to be misplaced. Let’s see if Negra Modelo deserves its place in The Book.


Well, as with the Brooklyn Lager, once again my preconceptions look to be on rocky ground. For a start, Negra Modelo is much darker than I expected, and in fact it pours a deep brownish ruby colour, with a small off-white lacing. It looks like we have another Vienna-style lager on our hands.

There’s a lightish, fruity nose and a nutty yet rounded, berry-like fruit to the flavour too. In fact the fruit reminds me a little of one or two of the Belgian Dubbel-style Trappist beers we’ve seen, such as Westmalle Dubbel, and I really did not expect to be saying that about a Mexican beer!

That said, at a sensible 5.4% ABV, Negra Modelo also tastes a little watered-down compared to those beers, and the body is a fair bit lighter than the colour might suggest. Helpfully, though, there’s a subtle bitter finish to give the beer some length and keep things satisfying.

Negra Modelo is certainly an interesting beer, though I can’t help finding it a little schizophrenic: it’s slightly too dark and full-bodied to be the truly refreshing quencher that you’d want to accompany your hot tamales on a scorching Tijuana afternoon, while on the other hand it doesn’t have the strength and depth to really be savoured like one would the Trappist beers I mentioned.

Still, Negra Modelo is a good beer all the same, and this has certainly been another revelation and indeed an education.

Facts and Figures

Brewery: Grupo Modelo, Mexico City, Mexico
Style: Vienna Red, Märzen and Oktoberfest Beers
ABV: 5.4%
Found at: Bossman Wines, Lordship Lane, London SE22
Dispense: 355ml Bottle

10. Brooklyn Lager

It had to happen sooner or later that I’d find myself drinking a lager for the first time in many months as a result of this foolhardy adventure. Let’s hope it’s a good one.

Brooklyn Lager certainly looks good with its rather handsome label, reportedly designed by Milton Glaser. You may know him from such other designs as the famous I♥NY logo.


Once poured, Brooklyn Lager looks like no other lager I can remember. It’s roughly the colour of a pint of bitter, and it turns out that this is an example of something called a Vienna Red lager, which is apparently quite popular in the US, whilst being something of a rarity in, well, Vienna.

It tastes a little like the good, imported Beck’s that you sometimes find in the UK, though with a lot more body and a most pleasing malty flavour. Brooklyn starts off quite light and refreshing, but there’s a lasting bitter finish that reassures you that you are, in fact, drinking a decent beer.

I liked this much more than I had expected, and would buy this again, probably to be served chilled in the summer. I’d go so far as to say that this is actually the first real revelation that 300 Beers has afforded me. I’ve learned something here.

A very nice beer indeed.

Facts and Figures

Brewery: Brooklyn Brewery, Brooklyn, NY
Style: Vienna Red, Märzen and Oktoberfest Beers
ABV: 5.2%
Found at: Waitrose, Whitecross Street, London EC1
Dispense: 355ml Bottle