5341Back in the day, brewing in summer is an idle period for the classic home brewers. High temperatures and bacteria formation made it illegal to create a new beer in Bavarian Germany.
But Märzen beer defied the state ordinance, making it one of the most iconic beers during Oktoberfest. Want to know more about Märzen, then read on.
Märzen Beer Profile
Oktoberfest is not complete without having Märzen beer on the list. It is light and clean giving that elegant sense of a beer. Märzen is somewhat bitter, malty, and toasty but it is well-balanced. A drink that you’ll surely love during the festival. Take a look at the table to learn more about its unique characteristic.
|Color Range:||8 – 17 SRM|
|Original Gravity:||1.054 – 1.060 OG|
|Final Gravity:||1.010 – 1.014 FG|
|IBU Range:||18 – 24 IBU|
|ABV Range:||5.8 – 6.3%|
|Appearance:||Color ranges from orange-amber to deep copper-red; Brillant clarity with off-white foam.|
|Aroma:||Malt-rich, somewhat toasty; Alcohol aroma is very light; No hop aroma.|
|Flavor:||Bready, toasty complex maltiness; Moderate hop bitterness; Hop flavor is very low; Clean lager fermentation characteristic.|
|Mouthfeel:||Highly attenuated; Medium carbonation; Fuller mouthfeel due to the creamy texture.|
|Serving & Storing Temperature:||45 – 50 degrees Fahrenheit|
|Shelf Life:||6 months up to 2 years|
|Food Pairings:||Pork Schnitzel, Bavarian Soft Pretzels, and Mixed sausage plate|
Märzenbier and Oktoberfest
Did you know that Oktoberfest is not just a beer festival like we know now? The origin of Oktoberfest dates all the way back to October 12, 1810.
It started off as a marriage celebration of Crown Prince Ludwig of Bavaria to Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen. The well-known event showcases a carnival atmosphere with a horse race on the 5th day of the event.
The royalties and locals enjoyed the event that they continued celebrating annually. Beer booths were not a thing during the first event, until eight years later. Booths serving Märzen beer filled the grounds to boost their agricultural products.
The festival in Munich Germany then became very popular among travelers across the globe. People come to celebrate the Bavarian culture with parades, music, dance, food, and many beers.
With no-holds-barred, there is no wonder why millions of people attend Oktoberfest each year. But, let’s not forget about the most iconic drink during the event – the Märzen beer. Behind its elegant characteristics, Märzen beer offers an interesting account of history.
Lager yeast, a component of Märzen beer, loves the cold weather. Brewing it during summer can affect the fermentation and cause an unpleasant taste. That’s why an ordinance is created stating that beer should only be brewed between Sept. 29th and April 23rd.
Here’s where the Märzen beer comes in. These type of beers are brewed in March and is stored in a cold cellar to be opened in Autumn. It became popular in Bavaria as it symbolizes the new brewing season. Given its popularity, there is no wonder why Märzen beer became the first beer served during the event.
But in time, the Märzen beer ran low in supply. The style was then adopted and developed to produce more. From its dark brown color, Märzen beer is now lighter than the original ones.
How To Make Your Own Märzen At Home
If you want to make your own Märzen beer then, here are some tips to know to get you brewing-ready.
Malt grains from Germany give you the original Märzen beer profile. Fortunately, there are available malts recreated by American maltsters. Pilsner and Munich malts are some of the common malts used to brew a Märzen.
For a traditional recipe, most brewers split the base malt with a 1:1 ratio. That is 50% Pilsner and 50% Munich malt. Some recipes substitute 5-10% of Munich with Vienna malt for that toasty flavor. You can play around with the recipe based on your taste preference.
A Märzen beer is not complete without a lager yeast, also known as Saccharomyces pastorianus. There are many yeast strains used in Oktoberfest beers. White Labs Oktoberfest Lager Yeast (WLP820) is specifically made for Märzen beer. It leaves the malt sweetness while also providing a high alcohol tolerance.
When using yeast, it pays to keep the ideal temperature range. Most lager yeast fermentation temperature is at 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Meanwhile, the WLP820 has a specific fermentation temperature of 52 – 58 degrees Fahrenheit.
Hops balance the flavors of your beer. It creates a bitter taste, preventing the malt sweetness from overpowering your drink. On the other hand, too many hops may result in a hoppy beer.
According to Beer Judge Certification Program style guidelines, a Märzen has:
- No hop aroma.
- The hop flavor is low to none.
- Hop bitterness is moderate.
To achieve the right beer style, keep your hops at a maximum of 3 ounces at the beginning of the boil. Tettnanger, Saaz, and Hallertau are some of the common hops used in making Märzen beer. All of the mentioned hops are also low in alpha acids. This ensures that the bitterness level stays low.
Water has “hardness” and “softness” despite it being crystal clear. It contains minerals and chemicals that determine the “hardness” of water. Hard water has high levels of chemicals such as calcium and magnesium. Wherein, soft water has a higher sodium concentration.
To create a Märzen beer, soft water should be used. There are available home water-softening systems that utilize resin and pellets. This way, you can reduce the amount of calcium and magnesium in the water.
Decoction Mash Substitute
The original Märzen beer uses a decoction mash to enhance the beer style. But there are specialty malts, developed so you don’t have to use a decoction mash. One example is the melanoidin malt. It helps stabilize the taste profile and flavor of the beer.
Märzen beers are lagered for a minimum of six months. It is stored in a low-temperature room during the period of aging. But many Oktoberfest beers can now be opened even after a five-week lager time. Take some patience. Waiting for a long time to get a taste of your Märzen beer can definitely be worth it.
If you want to create one pint just to try it out then, watch this video:
Märzen Beers To Try During Oktoberfest
There is no need to worry if you don’t have time to brew your own Märzen beer. Here are some of the best Oktoberfest beers to try out.
Paulaner Oktoberfest Bier
Paulaner is truly Germany’s favorite Oktoberfest beer. Up to date, it is still the most-served beer during the festival. It is often described as strong and golden. Paulnar has a light hop taste and a strong taste of malt creating a perfect balance.
It also has a slight carbonation throwing in a bit of citrus and floral flavor. Make sure not to miss this drink because it is only brewed specifically during Oktoberfest.
Spaten Oktoberfest Bier
Despite being one of the oldest versions of its style, Spaten Oktoberfest still lives up to its name. Spaten tastes sweet while balancing the spicy hop and toasty malt character.
Its flavor and aroma include a distinctive hoppy characteristic and sweet malts like caramel. Spaten also has a creamy yet crispy mouthfeel, leaving a dry finish.
Löwenbräu Oktoberfest Bier
Löwenbräu is an ideal drink whether you are a beginner or a beer enthusiast. Translated as “Lion’s Brew”, this beer definitely got the power to be one of the best during Oktoberfest.
You’ll get a hint of a bread-like aroma at first followed by notes of spicy hops. Permeating through its strong maltiness, you can get a hint of sweet apple flavor. The flavor also has a consistent hoppy characteristic.
The liveliness of Erdinger Oktoberfest perfectly describes how hearty Bavarian beer festivals are. It has a smooth malt aroma with enough hop bitterness, making it strong and irresistible.
There is also a slight fruity-fresh aroma with notes of yeast and hops. Erdinger has a well-balanced flavor with a gentle sparkling feel to it. With its perfectly rounded flavor, there is no question that Erdinger is one of the best beers during Oktoberfest.
Hofbräu Oktoberfest is a bottom-ferment specialty beer. It pours a light golden color with an inch cap of foam. The hop aroma is appropriately mild with a floral and earthy characteristic.
It also has a sweet malt with a hint of caramel aroma to it. Hofbräu has a supple-soft taste, flavorsome with a slightly sweet finish. Overall, Hofbräu is light, refreshing, and has a delicate taste to it.
Autumn marks the day that Oktoberfest is starting anytime soon. And just like the vibrant amber color of the season emerge the classic Märzen beer. An elegant German lager that has a complex and rich aftertaste fit for the festive, you’d want to drink more. Why not give it a try? Prost!