Wednesday 13 September 2023

Wiesn-Tragerl from Kalea - a real bargain at Lidl

Last Thursday morning I saw a tip off on one of the CAMRA WhatsApp groups I belong to. It concerned some special presentation packs of Bavarian Festbiers that were on sale at Lidl. The person who notified members of the group about these beers claimed they were selling fast, and urged those who wished to acquire a pack, to get down to Lidl’s quickly, before stocks ran out. 

Although I was definitely interested, I had other things to do that morning, and if truth be known thoughts of these Bavarian beers had vanished from my mind. My carefully laid plans that morning were thrown into disarray, by young Matthew who asked if I could run him over to Tunbridge Wells, to collect his car that had he’d dropped off at the main dealership for a check-up, the previous day. It was only during the return journey, that the idea diverting into Lidl entered my mind.  

Luck was on my side that morning and there still a number of these special packs left, although I imagine if I’d left it a day longer, they would all have gone. I left the store as a happy bunny, despite being twenty-five quid lighter, but to someone who enjoys German beer, what I purchased was worth its weight in gold. As you can see from the photo the pack contained 10 x 500 ml bottles and according to the blurb on the side, all are beer specialties from privately owned breweries.

The people behind this promotion might be pushing the point somewhat with one of the beers - Hofbräu Oktoberfest, as the brewery is owned by the Bavarian state, but leaving ownership issues aside, there are no foreign investors involved with the company. The other offerings are all, in the main, produced by small to medium family brewers all based in Bavaria. The pack itself represented good value at £24.99, so for a fraction under £2.50 a bottle, I now possess a variety of beers that are probably hard to come by in Bavaria (unless you know where to look), let alone south east England.

Most of the beers are marked up as either Märzen or Festbier. Märzenbier is German for “March beer,” and is a golden to deep amber lager style with a full body and a moderate bitterness. It closely resembles Vienna lager, a copper to reddish brown coloured beer that is characterized by a malty aroma and slight malt sweetness. Until the final quarter of the last century, Märzen was the dominant style of beer served at Munich’s Oktoberfest, but gradually the beer was superseded by Festbier, which although brewed to a similar abv of around 6% strength, is a more normal golden-yellow in colour.

It was developed by the Munich-based Paulaner brewery during the early 1970’s and gained rapidly in popularity following its first appearance at the event, due to it being easy to drink and its attractive appearance. By the 1990’s all beer served at Oktoberfest was Festbier, and Märzen had been officially replaced. Fortunately, a couple of Märzenbiers are included amongst the 10 beers that are neatly packed in the sturdy presentation box, which comes complete with a carrying handle plus the Bavarian emblazoned across the front of the pack.

It was only after opening the box that I discovered the enclosed booklet, which I thought would give some specific details about the various beers in the pack, but instead gives more general information about tasting and beer appreciation.  It also tells the reader about Kalea, the company behind the pack. Kalea is derived from the Hawaiian word meaning “to give joy” and the Kalea company was founded in 2010, in Salzburg Austria. Starting with a beer advent calendar, the company became the first German language beer writing platform, and they now also provide micro and gypsy brewers with a platform where they can promote their speciality beers.

I haven’t looked any of the beers yet, and the only ones I am familiar with are the Hofbräu Oktoberfest beer, plus one from Schneider, who are exclusively a wheat beer brewery, plus Bischofshof from Regensburg. I shall certainly enjoy getting stuck in to these beers during the approaching winter months, but for the time being I intend leaving the pack unopened.

For the record, and for those who like these sorts of details, the beer specialities contained in the pack are:

 Wildbräu Grafing - Kirtabier Märzen 5.7%

Ettl BräuTeisnacher 1543 Festmärzen 5.4%

Hohenthanner Schlossbrauerei - Märzen Festbier 5.6%

Erl BräuErlkönig Festbier 6.1%

FalterPichelsteiner Festbier 5.9%

Bischofshof - Original Festbier 5.4%

Schlossbrauerei IrlbachIrlbacher Premium 5.8%

Kuchlbauer - Gillamoos Bier 5.2%

SchneiderFestweisse 6.2%

Hofbräu - Oktoberfesbier 6.3%


Stafford Paul said...

£2.84 a pint is almost competing with Craft Union pubs, but are they all bottle conditioned ?

BryanB said...

The Kalea leaflet is, as far as I can tell, a translation of the one they've been sending to German-language customers for quite some time (I buy from them in Germany). That's why, even though it says it's about beer tasting generally, it's actually focused on German and Austrian styles. I haven't even looked to see if their beer rating app works in English!

BryanB said...

Paul, some might be unfiltered but I don't think any are bottle-conditioned.

Paul Bailey said...

I think you're right, BryanB. One is labelled as Naturtrub - unfiltered, or rough filtered, but there's probably not enough remaining yeast to allow any conditioning in the bottle.

The main attraction of me, and I suspect for many German consumers as well, is the majority are brewed by small, family-owned companies in a quite rural area of Bavaria, that is close to the Czech border.

Stafford Paul said...

So it's not such a bad idea then, especially as its three weeks on the Mediterranean rather than in a quite rural area of Bavaria close to the Czech border this year !

Curmudgeon said...

Grr, very jealous. Failed to get hold of any of these despite visiting both of my local Lidls twice.

Although Aldi are currently selling Paulaner and Erdinger Oxtoberfest beers, and Spaten Helles for £1.99 each, which can't be bad :-)

Axel said...

Habt ihr irgendwelche Empfehlungen für das Ingwerbier?

Anonymous said...

Are they hell - the names are fictitious, as they're really corporates. They wouldn't be able to sell to a supermarket if they were genuine family brewers. £2.50 is a rip-off - try £1.50-£1.60 a bottle. That box should only cost around £15.

Paul Bailey said...

Stafford Paul, although my wife enjoyed our two visits to Regensburg (2016 & 2017), a quite rural area of Bavaria close to the Czech border, might have been too much of a hard sell. It’s good hiking, and of course, good beer drinking country though, as testified by a couple of American blogs I follow. &

However, as Mrs PBT’s isn’t up to walking long distances these days, (not that she was ever that keen on the idea), the cruise won! I too, am looking forward to nearly three weeks of total r & r. I’ve got several books to read, there are lectures to attend, plus time ashore, at the various locations. I’ve also just acquired the small 13’’ laptop I was looking for, so there will be ample opportunity, as well, to bash out a few blog posts.

Paul Bailey said...

Mudge, sounds like you were unlucky in your quest for the Oktoberfest packs. I would probably have been in the same boat, had it not been for the efforts of our sharp-eyed WhatsApp, local CAMRA member.

I might call in at Aldi tomorrow and pick up a couple of their Paulaner and Spaten offerings (I am not a huge fan of German wheat beer, so will give the Erdinger a miss). Incidentally, I saw one of the presenters of the Craft Beer Channel, highlighting these on You Tube, earlier this evening.

Paul Bailey said...

Axel, I can’t recall seeing ginger beer on visits to Germany, but then I’ve never really looked for it. I’m partial to a drop of the UK-brewed stuff, but not TOO fond, given its high sugar content!

Anonymous, do you get a kick out of being a wind-up merchant? If you bothered clicking on the links (the ones in the bold type that you dislike so much), you would see that with the exception of Hofbräu, all the beers contained in that pack are brewed by genuine family brewers. Some have traditions going back over two or three hundred years.

Steve D. said...

Mudge, and Paul, I know you scribed you weren't going to have them yet. But when you do, what is the "Best before" date date on the Paulaner Oktoberfest? I bought a variety case of 12 330-mL bottles of Paulaner, which included its Oktoberfest Märzen (5.8% ABV) for $15.99. It gives itself to March 2024.

Curmudgeon said...

Anon sounds like the guy in my blog comments who was claiming that pubs were only invented in the 1960s and initially were only intended for serving soldiers.

@SteveD - the best before date on the Paulaner bought from Aldi is 08/24.

Curmudgeon said...

The Hacker-Pschorr Oktoberfest beer (not spotted this season so far) is noticeably darker than the others of the Munich "Big Six" and retains more of the original Märzen character.

Paul Bailey said...

Steve D, there isn't any Paulaner Oktoberfest in my Kalea case, but the version from Hofbräu is BBE April 24. Several of the other beers also have the same date, but a few of them are either June or July '24.

Paul Bailey said...

Mudge, the anon troll is definitely unhinged. QAnon would be a more appropriate moniker for him!

Paul Bailey said...

I was out of luck at Aldi, so far as Paulaner and Erdinger Oktoberfest beers were concerned. Both had sold out, so I had to console myself with a couple of bottles of Spaten Helles. Oktoberfest is certainly proving a real hit, this year!

BryanB said...

Yeah, the Anon troll is occasionally amusing but not entirely accurate!

On the Lidl box pricing, Kalea originally listed the same box for its German & Austrian customers at €29.99, which converts to... £25. (It was subsequently reduced to €19.99, presumably to shift the last ones before Oktoberfest.)

The beers in it are all from genuine breweries, not macros - unlike the Kalea advent calendar that they do for (among other outlets) US Costco, where the beers are indeed micro recipes, but they're contract brewed by big regionals (still not macros!) because the original brewer couldn't do the quantity needed.

BryanB said...

Curmudgeon, "The Hacker-Pschorr Oktoberfest beer is noticeably darker" - that's because that is *not* HP's Oktoberfestbier. It's their 5.8% Oktoberfest Märzen:

H-P's Oktoberfestbier is indeed golden and 6%, it's what is served in the H-P tents at the Wies'n and it's bottled as Superior:

Paul Bailey said...

Thanks for filling in those gaps, BryanB. Oktoberfestbier has really blurred the boundaries between the more traditional Märzen, and the beer served at the actual event itself.

Zoe said...

I'm thrilled to read your review on the Wiesn-Tragerl from Kalea! It's amazing how Lidl keeps surprising us with great finds. While indulging in the beer and snacks, don't forget to balance it out with some fitness activities. If you ever need fitness advice or even considering something like Liposuction Dubai to feel more confident, feel free to ask. Cheers to good deals and self-care!