I like to think that I’m somewhat immune to gimmicks and labeling, but I’ll give credit right up front to the folks at Shmaltz Brewing Company. When I saw Freaktoberfest lager on the shelf at my local shop, I HAD to buy it for The Brew Club. I really didn’t have a choice after seeing the over-the-top Freaktoberfest packaging.
This is Halloween, right? So lets read the label a bit. First, the Freaktoberfest comes in at an evil 6.66% ABV. In addition its got 6 malts, 6 types of hops and on top of that it says its a ‘blood red lager’. How can you not buy this beer?
As a matter of fact, for the first time ever, I’m giving this beer an additional 1/2 star rating even before I try it just for the packaging and the concept of Freaktoberfest!
Let’s get on to the beer shall we? Let’s see if my response to the unique packaging was correct!
I’m not sure the pictures I took do justice to the color of this beer. It really is red. I wouldn’t say that its blood red, but its good enough to keep with the creepy Freaktoberfest theme. Its a little hazy, not clear like red wine – more like fruit juice from a can.
Not much of a head forms with the pour, I guess that can be expected considering its a lager. The head itself is something of a pinkish color, again in line with the Freaktoberfest concept. As the head fizzes out, I find that if I swirl the beer in my glass the pinkish foam reconstitutes – I thought it was a neat effect (but I’m amused quite easily).
Freaktoberfest doesn’t smell like blood or anything like that – actually it kind of smells like a regular ‘ol lager. I picked up mild malty aromas (not sure which of the 6 malts) and not too much else. The smell so far doesn’t live up to the look or the labeling.
Getting on to the taste. Well, its a little weird drinking a red beer. It throws off your brain a bit because as I’m looking at it I’m expecting ‘wine’ or ‘wild blue‘, but in fact the taste is remarkably average. Again, a bit of a letdown considering the packaging. The best I can describe it is its a weird kind of mildly fruity sweet, and then it gets a touch bitter with some mild hop bite. I’m also noticing that the alcohol comes through a little more in the flavor than I would like, and it seems to linger in the aftertaste as well. I also find the beer leaves a bit of a sticky feeling that isn’t too pleasing. Eh.
Let’s wrap it up.
I already promised the Freaktoberfest 1/2 star for the packaging or novelty factor which I think it deserves. Still, I think this beer is more gimmicky than good and will not be seeking it out in the future. Personally, this is my first beer from Shmaltz, but I won’t let Freaktoberfest’s underwhelming performance taint my opinion of the brewer.
I’ve read many good things about their brews, and our pal Liz seemed to like their Cony Island Lager when she tried it last year. Maybe this is something to draw eyeballs to the brand (It got me!) but I’m not sure it really delivers otherwise. This might be fun for Halloween, but not so much fun if you’re just looking to enjoy a beer.
So, I’m going to give this beer unfortunately 1.5 stars. Sorry Shmaltz, better luck next time. I think the concept is excellent, and the packaging sucked me in, but the beer just doesn’t impress.
What do you think? Have you tried the Freaktoberfest lager?