9/18/19: Hi-Wire Brewing's Zirkusfest

6:30 PM

This post marks the halfway point of the blog's Oktoberfest season. It's the Wednesday of the whole thing, if you will. So, what better day of the week to do this write-up than, well, Wednesday?


Is it obvious that I'm struggling to think of a good introduction? I hope so, because everything here was founded upon transparency. Today's post, by the way, is Hi-Wire's entry into the Oktoberfest canon: Zirkusfest. I'm pretty excited for this because, until I found this can at my local bottleshop, I had no idea that Hi-Wire had thrown their hat into this specific style ring. Let's see how it drinks.

Based out of Asheville, NC, Hi-Wire strives to make brews that are approachable and balanced. Having said that, the brewery isn't afraid of experimentation. While they do brew traditional beers, they also like to dabble with barrel-aged sours and wild ales. It's like a balancing act. Like a balancing act on a tightrope. Or a high-wire, if you will. Anyway, if you're the kind who'd like to know more about the folks and culture behind the beer, be sure to head on over to the brewery's "Our Story" page--that's where you'll find what you need.

Zirkufest (click that link to be taken to its official page on the brewery's website) is, as mentioned above, an Oktoberfest lager or, as the cool kids refer to it, a Märzen. Hi-Wire's take on the style aims to shirk the heaviness one might find in the beer. Using Munich Malt, Hallertau Tradition hops, and German Lager yeast, the beer has flavors of honey and biscuit on the fore and a dry finish. Clocking in at a healthy 6% ABV, expect to find cans of this from August through October.

I get some biscuit and more honey on the nose--a little caramel, too--but there's a vegetable quality here, as well. I'd blame it on the hops (which serve to add a crispness to the aroma as well as help ground the whole thing because, otherwise, it'd be super light and airy [which wouldn't be a bad thing in itself, you'll note]). What I'm picking up is something along the lines of freshly picked green beans. It actually plays really well off the biscuit and honey. I'm pretty damn impressed. Purrl kind of is? She gave my can eight whiffs so, while Zirkusfest isn't her favorite, she doesn't hate the lager. Count that as a win, Hi-Wire.


The flavor is a perfect encapsulation of the aroma. It's sweet and biscuity on the fore before the slight, and only very slight, hop bitterness kicks in and before the beer's dry, green bean-esque finish. After my swig, I'm finding some honey lingering on my lips and the tip of my tongue while my cheeks are coated with that vegetable quality. Sure, I liked the bouquet, but I'm similarly impressed with how the Märzen tastes. EDITING NOTE: I'm getting big citrus from my can right now--a welcome addition.

The mouthfeel works well for a lager, but it's not necessarily what I'd expect. It's flatter than what you'd usually get from the style. At first. Each swig finishes with a mild wash of carbonation, as if to remind you what you're drinking. It's pleasant and, robust isn't the right word here, worthwhile. Maybe this is the first time anyone's referred to a mouthfeel as being "worthwhile."

Zirkusfest reminds me of chilly weather. Specifically, some I experienced during my undergrad. In Athens, there's a pretty popular drunk food burrito place located amongst all the bars uptown. It just so happened that Michelle and I liked their menu fine enough even as non-drunk food.

After class some days during the late-fall of 2011, I'd pass by there on my way to Michelle's apartment (with or without her) to nab our dinner. I still remember her usual order. I'd hold a foil-wrapped burrito in each hand as I walked through the twilight to her little green building, my palms kept warm by the hot food. Wind would blow through the trees lining her street, rustling russet leaves that were barely indistinguishable against the darkening sky.

I'm really happy I picked up this can of Hi-Wire's Zirkusfest. Actually, I'm bummed that I didn't grab a whole sixer. This is a fantastic Oktoberfest, one that everyone should try. It's far removed from what I expect from the style, but it's still obviously an entry into it. I'm giving my can a 9.5/10. This is great stuff.

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