9/11/19: Rhinegeist Brewery's Franz

4:27 PM

Full disclosure: I've had Franz before. It's been a Cincy Oktoberfest staple since I've lived here. It's one of those standbys that fill shelving units at grocery stores, gas stations, and bottleshops from August and into October. It's a pretty popular beer.


A few years ago, when Michelle and I started house hunting, we took her dad to Rhinegeist's HQ. On tap at the time (mind you, this was in August) they had a sour variant of Franz that I adored. While I'm still holding out that Rhinegeist will bottle that someday, I'm ready now to crack into my can of the classic Franz to give my "official" thoughts.

Housed in Christian Moerlein's packaging warehouse, Rhinegeist opened in 2013. Bob Bonder, one of the brewery's co-founders, moved to Cincinnati in 2007. After discovering the city's brewing heritage, he placed a call to Bryant Goulding (with whom he had worked a few years prior). The two got to work and eventually opened one of the Cincinnati's first breweries to can its product. If you're hungry for more information about Rhinegeist's history (and there's a lot more) you really need to check out the brewery's "Our Story" page.

Franz, whose official page is found here, is only shipped out in August and September (although, like I said, you can find it a little later than that without issue). Brewed with two hop varietals and four different kinds of malts, it clocks in at 5.4% ABV.

The lager's nose is slightly complex. It has a crisp hoppiness that adds the mildest touch of citrus to the bouquet. I'm also finding a touch of darker roast, a kind of coffeeness. Sure, there's that caramel-sweet maltiness that you'd expect from the style, but that roastiness takes the fore of here. I'm really digging what the roasted malt is giving the brew--it's something I haven't encountered in an Oktoberfest before. Purrl gave my can four quick whiffs, so I guess she's not as about the aroma as I am.


Unfortunately, that enjoyment I found in the nose's roasted malt doesn't carry through to the flavor. Let me back up, though, so I can talk about what Franz does right. It's not overly sweet like some of the more renowned American Oktoberfests. In fact, the crisp bitterness of the hops in the bouquet really flesh out the taste. Both of these make for a refreshing lager. But, turning back to the roasted malt, it makes the whole thing finish with a bite of burnt toast. Or burnt popcorn. Or, really, burnt anything. It's not an appealing quality and it tarnishes the rest of the affair. There's also a weird, ambiguous sticky rice flavor that pulls the beer down even further.

Mouthfeel-wise, this is a pretty bubbly brew. The carbonation isn't bitey, but it's very present. It's a little more than I'd expect from a lager, but it doesn't detract from what the beer's doing.

Franz reminds me of the first time I ever really had coffee--I hated it. It was for some meeting or another during my undergrad at a local coffee shop. Everyone went to the register to order before we went to find our seats. I was last in line and had absolutely no idea what I was doing.

In the end, I ordered a fancy drip coffee (which is most likely what I'd order now). After the barista handed me my mug I moved to sweeten it. I poured in some sugar (which I now do without) and skipped the creamer (which is now a must-have). I met up with my group and took a swig. I must've kept a straight face because nobody seemed to notice how repulsed I was by what I'd ordered. I nursed it through the meeting before dumping what was left of the coffee (which was most of it) in the waste tub on my way out of the place.

Now, I know that a ton of people really like Franz. I'm friends with some of its fanatics. But, I can't say it's a beer for me. While I love the sour variant (and I'll review it on here if I ever get the chance), it's regular styling isn't something I'd reach for. I'm giving my can a 6.5/10. I can't say that I think this is something you should pick up. But, you know, you do you.

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