ABV: 5.8 – 6.3%
IBU's: 18 – 24
Aroma: I smell like German malt, which is cool with me. I’m all rich and bready and toasty smelling. No hop aroma on me, thank you very much.
Appearance: Check me out. I’m amber-orange to deep reddish-copper with bright clarity and a persistent, off-white foam stand.
Flavor: Initially, my malt flavor suggests sweetness, followed by a bready, toasty taste. You’ll walk away from me with a moderately dry, malty aftertaste.
Mouthfeel: My mouthfeel is medium body, with a smooth, creamy texture. You’ll notice my medium carbonation.
AN OPEN LETTER TO MARZEN
Every autumn we scour the beer market. Sure enough, there you are. If our autumn beer drinking were hip-hop tracks, you’d be the James Brown drum sample. You’re everywhere. Yet, all spelled differently — Märzen, Märzenbier, Festbier and the omnipresent Oktoberfest bier. That doesn’t include the remaining odd few we’ve encountered (we’re looking at you, Wiener Märzen). Basically, if you’re an elegant, malty German amber bottom-fermented lager with a clean, rich, toasty and bready malt flavor, restrained bitterness, and a dry finish you’re in the club.
Why so many names, Märzen? Let’s take a look at you. A beer style is usually named after its place of origin, its key characteristic, or both. You’re named after two months of the calendar: March and October (spelled März and Oktober in German). About half a millennium ago, brewers in Bavaria had difficulty controlling the quality of their brews in the summer. In the foothills of the Alps, it got much too cold in the fall and winter for most airborne microbes to survive and spoil the brew. So Bavarian brewers resorted to a simple strategy to ensure a drinkable beer supply for the summer: They worked overtime in late winter to make plenty of higher-gravity and well-hopped “March” beer. After fermentation, you were stored in casks in cool cellars and mountain caves, some filled with ice from the winter. You emerged with the bears in late spring, full of alcohol, with high acid and tannin levels from the hops.
In 1841, buddies Gabriel Sedlmayr and Anton Dreher, the owners of the Spaten Brewery of Munich and the Dreher Brewery of Vienna, respectively, cooperated in lightening your color by adding a new, slightly caramelized, but fairly pale malt to the grist — a malt now known as Vienna.
You’re also is labeled a “fest beer” (festbier in German). Apparently, by October you had to disappear so precious casks could receive the season’s fresh beer. Combine the pressure on those poor Bavarian brewers to empty the barrels with their propensity for having a jolly good time, and the concept of an Oktoberfest emerged. In fact, you were served at the first Oktoberfest celebration in 1872 — the wedding reception for Bavarian King Ludwig I and Maria Theresa.
That, my friend, is our guess on how you acquired your Märzen-Oktoberfest-Vienna name.
A confession: we used to try and guess your named by your coloring. If you’re golden, well then you’re a modern domestic German Oktoberfest. If you’re more orange-amber, then you’re an export German Oktoberfest. If you’re a dark, brownish color, then you’re an Märzen who jumped in a time machine from the 18th century. If you’re amber-orange to reddish-copper, than you’re probably you, Märzen. Sorry, you still all look alike to us. We hope that doesn’t make us sound racist.
Regardless of your demographic and ethnicity, you taste slightly sweet to us, with a bready, toasty aspect with low hop flavor. After the last couple of sips, you leave us with a clean, rich malty flavor.
Vital Statistics: OG: 1.054 – 1.060, FG: 1.010 – 1.014, IBUs: 18 – 24, SRM: 8 – 17, ABV: 5.8 – 6.3%
Commercial Examples: There are a few of your true versions we enjoy most in the tulip glass at 46-48 degrees:
Augustiner Brau Marzen Bier, München, Germany
Avery Brewing The Kaiser, Boulder, Colorado
Ayinger Oktoberfest Märzen, Aying, Germany
Brooklyn Brewery Oktoberfest, Brooklyn, New York
Chuckanut Brewery Marzen, Bellingham, Washington
Flying Dog Dogtoberfest Märzen, Frederick, Maryland
Great Lakes Brewing Oktoberfest, Cleveland, Ohio
High Point Brewing Ramstein Oktoberfest, Butler, New Jersey
Left Hand Brewing Oktoberfest, Longmont, Colorado
Sierra Nevada Brewing Oktoberfest, Chico, California
Surly Brewing Company SurlyFest, Minneapolis, Minnesota
The Olde Mecklenburg Brewery Mecktoberfest, Charlotte, North Carolina
Element Brewing Altoberfest, Millers Falls, Massachusetts
New Glarus Brewing Staghorn Octoberfest, New Glarus, Wisconsin
Victory Brewing Festbier, Downingtown, Pennsylvania
Westbrook Brewing Märzenbier, Mount Pleasant, South Carolina
Why don’t you all get together and form a fraternity? Phi Beta Märzen, or whatever mash-up of Greek letters you prefer. You can wear little pins that show you’re part of a group that celebrates all things German. All we ask is that you not roll your eyes whenever we misspell your name on our menu. Because as far as we can tell, that’s impossible.