This month (November 2022), Darren Oakley gave us an overview of the Märzen style in preparation for a themed meeting in March 2023.
Oktoberfest / Märzen
Darren Oakley - November 2022
BJCP 2021 - 6A
As the name suggests, brewed as a stronger “March beer” in March and
lagered in cold caves over the summer.
Modern versions trace back to the lager developed by Spaten in 1841,
contemporaneous to the development of Vienna lager.
However, the Märzen name is much older than 1841 – the early ones were
dark brown, and the name implied a strength band (14 °P) rather than a style.
The amber lager style served at Oktoberfest from 1872 until 1990 when the
golden Festbier was adopted as the standard festival beer.
An amber, malty German lager with a clean, rich, toasty, bready malt ﬂavor,
restrained bitterness, and a well-attenuated ﬁnish.
The overall malt impression is soft, elegant, and complex, with a rich malty
aftertaste that is never cloying or heavy.
● OG: 1.054 - 1.060
● FG: 1.010 - 1.014
● ABV: 5.6% - 6.3%
● IBU: 18 - 24
● BU:GU: 0.32 - 0.42
● SRM: 8 - 17
● Traditionally made with just a mix of Munich and Pilsner malt
● Can be combined with two-row or Vienna to make up to ~77-92% of grain
bill, i.e. 52% Pilsner/two-row, 30% Munich/Vienna
● Many examples include 7-9% caramel or crystal malt
● Other malts used can include victory, aromatic, wheat or melanoidin
● Traditional (noble) selection - Tettnanger or Hallertauer
● Most common - Bavarian strains suited for malt-forward beers
● Less common - Bohemian Pilsner yeast
● Soft/RO water
● Additions of calcium chloride (CaCl
) and gypsum (CaSO
i.e. 4g CaCl
and 1.3g CaSO
in ~22 litres of mash water
● Keep sulphite levels low
● Looking for high fermentability
○ i.e. a two-step mash at 60-62°C followed by something like 69°C
○ Or just go for a single rest at 65-66°C and mash longer, i.e. 90-120 mins
● I’ve not found any references to decoction….
● 60-90 min boil - go longer to increase colour and caramelisation
● This is a malt forward style, so hops are the supporting act…
○ 60 min additions mostly
○ 20 min addition is included in some recipes, but keep it light
Avg. primary fermentation temp is 10 °C.
Some reports show Bavarian strains being used as high as 14 °C but lower
Traditional lagering is for 6 months at close to freezing temperatures
A good example can be possible with a shorter lagering times following
analysis of second round NHC entry recipes by Ray Daniels…
● “Lagering seems to be fairly short for these styles”
● Some brew sheets report no lagering at all
● Those who lagered their beers reported temperatures of 0.5-3 °C for 4-5
Jamil Zainasheff & John Palmer
Winner Winner Märzen Dinner
● BJCP Guidelines, 2021
● Designing Great Beers - Ray Daniels
● Brewing Classic Styles - Jamil Zainasheﬀ and John Palmer