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September 06, 2003

Spaten Oktoberfest Ur-Marzen

A mouthful to say as well as to drink, the beer of the night. Normally the beer of the night is whatever I happen to pull from the fridge, but Ngnat, Scotty M. and I made a special trip to the store tonight to get it.

After dropping the Sainted Wife off at a bar, of all places. But that's a story for later, if at all.

Here's the reason why I went out of my way to get a Spaten tonight; German Brewery Donates Beer To American Soldiers

The Germans didn't back the U.S. war in Iraq, but a German brewery is treating American sailors and soldiers to beer.

Munich-based Spaten, one of the world's oldest breweries, is donating 600 cases of lager to each branch of the U.S. military for personnel who fought in the war.

Navy Capt. Terry McKnight, commanding officer of the amphibious assault ship Kearsarge, said Wednesday that his sailors would have no qualms about drinking brew from a country that refused to join coalition forces in the invasion of Iraq.

"A cold beer is a cold beer," McKnight said.

Donald C. Bennett, a selectee for chief petty officer who came to a Norfolk Naval Station loading dock to claim four cases for his crew on the submarine Montpelier, agreed: "We're happy to drink it all."

There were only 2 six packs left in a display case that holds 14, so maybe others have already heard the story and thanked Spaten in the most suitable way, by purchasing their beer. If you'd like to do the same, it should be readily available in any medium to upper scale grocery store, especially now that the Oktoberfest has just been released. If you can't find a Spaten brew, the company also produces the Franziskaner line of wheat beers, which are usually found in the single bottles section

One thing that did annoy me:

However, there is one small problem that Louis Sieb, president of Spaten North America, did not consider when he came up with the idea. The average sailor is 20. Legal drinking age is 21.

"They give up everything, right? They put their lives on the line, right? And they can't drink beer? Still, a good thing, I think," Sieb said.

The incongruity between the draft age and the drinking age is something America should be ashamed of. We're perfectly happy to let kids take a bullet in defense of the American Way of Life, but shudder in Puritanical horror at letting them drink a beer in celebration of it.

It's a stupid policy. I don't mind states setting the drinking age at whatever they think it should be, though oddly I didn't feel the same way when I was 18 and N.C. raised the drinking age, first to 19 and then to 21, but anyone n the military should get an automatic pass. Those who might die for our rights should be allowed the full enjoyment of them.

And just think how easy recruiting would become.

And by the way, American Way Of Life = A.W.O.L. I expect royalty payments from any and all fringe political movements that decide this is deathly clever and needs to be scribbled on a protest sign.

Definitions of the day:

A beer aficionado: A fan of beer. Illustrated here.

A beer snob: Someone who'll make fun of what you're drinking. Illustrated here.

Where I fall on that spectrum.

The Spaten Oktoberfest Ur-Marzen was the first beer brewed especially for Oktoberfest, and the tapping of the first keg of Spaten has marked the opening of Oktoberfest in Munich since 1950.

Marzen /Oktoberfest beers are marked by a malty sweetness and dry character. The Spaten Ur-Marzen is considered to be on of the standard bearers. Michael Jackson, in The Beer Companion wrote that it ...has an excellent malt aroma, a malty but rounded body, and a delicate underpinning of hop.....It is a classic.

"Delicate underpinning of hop." Based on my notes, I would have said something like "slightly hopped". It's the turn of a phrase that separates the beer professionals from the amateurs.

That, and knowing what the hell they're talking about. It's probably best that I took most of my notes before I was aware of the stature of this particular beer, else I'd have never attempted the taste.

It's a damn good beer, too, even given my suddenly discovered distaste for thins like "malty sweetness" in a beer. I blame that damn Black Abbott, it made me paranoid. There is a easily detectable sweetness to the Spaten, both in the bouquet and in the mouth, but it's a thin, dry sweet, with a delicate underpinning of hops.

Damn, that sounds nice.

I got the feeling that the malts used are toasted, or at least were heated and dried a bit more than normal before they were added to the mash. Whatever was done gave the final brew evanescent hints of toffee and caramel, as if a low-sugar honey had been roasted, then added to the mix.

I hadn't planned on taking the Spaten on the fishing trip this year, it having gone with us the previous two. But, given the lovely gesture the brewery made, and the fact that we'll be on the island during the 193rd anniversary of the first Oktoberfest, I suppose it will make the trip for the third year running.

Posted by Bigwig at September 6, 2003 12:01 AM | TrackBack
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Actually, although no one makes a big deal of it, underage military are served alcohol.

My son actually presented an ID showing he was 20 while on a plane, and was served because it was an active duty ID.

Posted by: meg at September 6, 2003 02:10 PM

Technically, underage soldiers are only supposed to be able to buy on-base, and in limited quantities, but I have a sneaking suspicion that there won't be cops ID'ing people aboard a submarine.

Posted by: Robert Bauer at September 8, 2003 09:15 PM
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