It’s October, and in the beer world that means the return of overly-large steins, German flags and special brews to mark Oktoberfest.
Although the official Oktoberfest celebrations in Germany started up in late September and are basically wrapped up by now, here in Scotland there’s loads of events still to come, such as Mocktoberfest in Elgin Town Hall on October 13/14.
But if you can’t make it along to one yourself, fear not, because I’ve put together this short list of three exceptional German-style beers made by small breweries in the Highlands and Moray for you to try.
Germany might be known for creating some of the best-loved beer styles in the world, like helles lagers and hefeweizens, but I genuinely reckon these three Scottish beers give even the best German breweries a run for their money.
Helles Lager, Black Isle Brewing Co.
- £3.50 from the brewery’s website
- Black Isle Brewing Co, the Black Isle
- Style: Helles lager
If you’re not familiar with German style beers, and think of them all as rather cloudy drinks, then the helles lager is the style for you.
Crisp is the word for this one from Black Isle, and it’s absolutely refreshing. Like Tennent’s, but better in almost every single way and next to no aftertaste, I’d say.
I’ve had a good few helles lagers over the years, but this one from Black Isle was really fantastic. I had it in a can, but I think on draft at the brewery’s wunderbar bar in Inverness, it’d be even better.
And at just 3.4%, you can put away a fair few of these in an evening quite happily.
Weizen, Windswept Brewing Co.
- £2.40 from the brewery’s website
- Windswept Brewing Co, Lossiemouth
- Style: German hefeweizen (wheat beer)
These sorts of German wheat beers always have the same descriptions of their flavours on the bottle: bananas and cloves.
I always found that description to be a wee bit off for most beers of this type, including this one.
To me, this one from Windswept was more like banana bread in liquid form (with maybe a touch of gingerbread, but maybe that’s just me thinking of how orange the colour is).
It’s very cloudy, with a thick bubbly head, and it’s got a pleasant strength from the relatively higher ABV of 5.2%.
If you had this side-by-side with a pint of the classic Weihenstephaner in a pub, you’d really notice how much more dry this one is in comparison — and a lot less “this is going to give me a headache” than the proper German one.
This was my favourite of the three I tried here.
Jungle Hijinxs, Cromarty Brewing Co.
- £3.10 from the brewery’s website
- Cromarty Brewing Co, Cromarty
- Style: Bavarian-style wheat beer
Like the Weizen from Winswept, the description on the side of this tin from Cromarty also tells the drinker to expect bananas and cloves in the beer’s flavour, and that’s certainly not wrong for this bevvie.
This one comes in a bigger, 440ml can, which to me is a much better volume for enjoying German-style wheat beers from.
It pours slightly lighter in colour than the Winswept brew, and has a touch thinner head, tasting a bit less spiced too — but all of this works in its favour.
A really sweet finish makes this one I’d definitely order again.