A Drink for All Seasons: Oktoberfest at home, honey beer and the nearest thing you’ll get to drinking a cake

This time of year usually sees hundreds of thousands of people descend upon Bavaria to celebrate — er, well, we're not quite sure, but at any rate they drink lots of beer. So what better time to take a look at some of the best new brews on the market?

It’s like one of those selection packs of chocolate bars you used to get at Christmas, except for beer

Any time the normal rules of life get turned upside down there are winners and losers — and booze delivery companies have had a bumper 2020. One such is Beer Hawk, a Yorkshire-based firm which sells beers of the world from a warehouse in Leeds. They go slightly Oktoberfest crazy even in a normal year, as you might imagine, but this year they’ve got a series of packs which include specially-brewed festival beers, and they’ll even throw in one of those giant beer steins to add to the authenticity. They even have one set with a couple of steins and some t-shirts — though, sadly, no lederhosen. Perhaps that’s an idea for next year chaps?

The beers themselves are very decent German beers covering a range of Teutonic brewing styles, all of which are (thankfully) a world away from the terrible lager you’ll find in most English pubs. All are good, the stand-out is probably the Ayinger Festmarzen. Or maybe the ABK… but then again, the Hofbrau was excellent too…

£20 for five beers and a 0.5l tankard; £35 for 10 beers and a 1l stein; or £55 for 16 bottles of beer, two 1l steins, two t-shirts and some beer mats. The £35 set is probably the sweet spot…


The closest you’ll ever get to drinking a Black Forest gateau

Okay, so that headline isn’t quite accurate. You could put an entire Black Forest gateau in a blender or smoothie maker and drink the results. But I don’t think it’d taste as good as this effort from the London Beer Factory. They have actually described this beer, ‘Zia’, as ‘Tiramisu Pastry Stout’ — an eye-catching name, with an even more eye-catching ABV of 9.2%.

Yet it is sweeter and more substantial than a tiramisu, and (for our money) rather more delicious. Plus the whole Black Forest thing links in to this week’s Oktoberfest theme rather well. And just like a real Black Forest gateau, you can pick one up at the supermarket — they’re selling this outlandish stuff in Tesco at the moment.

£3.50 for a 440ml from Tesco


If bees drank beer, this is what they’d go for

I’m not sure there’s a product on the planet that doesn’t have a honey-flavoured variation these days — I blame Burt for putting it in his shampoo. Anyway, if you’re a lover of honey notes in everything, be prepared for a real whack of the flavour in these Hiver beers — far more so than in, say, Fuller’s Honey Dew — and that makes it a bit of a love-it-or-hate-it beer. Well worth a try.

£1.80 for 330ml from Sainsbury’s


Work Ethic finishes at 5pm on Friday

There was a time when seeing that beer came in a can was enough to suggest that it probably wasn’t much cop. Those days are long gone — even in great little breweries such as Firebird in West Sussex, cans are now taking over. But grab a glass, pour it out and any lingering resistance you might have will probably disappear when you sip this staggeringly fruity IPA, which is something like a cross between beer and lightly sparkling grapefruit juice.

£43.20 for 12x 440ml cans