Clipper City Brewing Co., Marzhon

Grade: B-
Clipper City Brewing Co.

Pours with a white head that doesn't stick around long, and a light gold/straw color with orange hues. Not many sulfurs in the aroma, definite honey and general floral notes. Sweetness is in the nose, but toast and biscuit come through assertively as well. Some slight caramel and toffee in there as well, but not much. Mouthfeel is medium to medium-light, and doesn't dry out too much at the back of the palate. Flavors are immediately of toast, cereal, grains, and bread. The honey-like sweetness carries through to the flavor, and plays a welcome supporting role to the grainy malts. It's a clean beer, no esters from the lager yeast, only a very slight fruit note. There are certainly hops in this beer, trending to the more spicy, herbal noble hops like Hallertaur or Saaz. Dark sugars and molasses linger somewhere in the background, but are certainly not a main element of this beer. Some of the toasty, grainy malts lend some astringency to the back of the palate after a few sips. Brown sugar seems to linger after half a pint.

I'm not sure what parts of this beer are intended to be a Marzen style lager and what aren't. While Clipper City is making no bones about being an Oktoberfest "style" lager, they style they seemed to follow more closely is that of a grainy pilsner. While there is some sweetness in this beer, it doesn't seem to follow the same dark caramel and rich malt flavor that other Oktoberfest beers have. While not entirely a bad beer, I do think it suffers from a bit of an identity crisis. It tastes good, but it's not something I'm going to buy a six pack of.

Clipper City is a brewery that seems to have things backwards. Their Heavy Seas portfolio of bigger, higher in alcohol beers are more well known than their normal, production line of pale ale, pre-prohibition lager, and golden ale. In fact, their main line of beers are only to be found in Maryland, Washington DC, and Virginia, while their Heavy Seas line covers most of the east coast. Their newest addition, the Marzhon, may find a niche market close to the brewery. But for the rest of the country, I hope they keep putting out Heavy Seas.