Episode 16: Oktoberfestbier

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Marzen Beer Tasting Notes

Spaten Oktoberfest – Spaten Brewery; Munich, Germany

Nice amber color gives way to a smooth beer. A nice touch of hop bitterness on the backend balances the heavy malt bill. A very clean beer that is quite tasty.

Warsteiner Oktoberfest – Warsteiner Brewery; Warstein, Germany

Similar to the Spaten, but with a bit less flavor. Still a good beer, but not nearly as robust on the palate.

Brooklyn Lager – Brooklyn Brewery; Brooklyn, NY, USA

We were not big fans of this. It is slightly bitter, but really there is a spice we did not care for on the backend.

Vienna Lager – Devils Backbone Brewery (Subsidiary of Anheuser-Busch); Roseland, VA, USA

Sweet with almost no hop bitterness. A better representative of the style compared to the Brooklyn, but still not as good as the other beers we had for this episode.

Clawhammer Oktoberfest – Highland Brewing; Asheville, NC, USA

Nice, smooth, with a touch a caramel. This is a great version of an American Oktoberfest.

Great Lakes Oktoberfest – Great Lakes Brewing Company; Cleveland, OH, USA

Sweeter than the Clawhammer, with a nice caramel body and backend. One of Andrew’s favorites.

Final Thoughts on the Marzen Style

This style is highly variable once you get American brewers involved. Most of the beers are extremely smooth and delightful, but the style could also be boring as there is a lack of big bold flavors. Ultimately we enjoyed the tasting and recommend the style, if nothing else it makes a wonderful fall treat while watching football!

History of Marzen

Marzen AKA Oktoberfest, Vienna Lager, Amber Lager, is a very easy drinking beer with an amber color, middle to low alcohol, and little bitterness. It is considered one of the best beer for food pairings due to the lack of strong flavors. Marzenbier literally translates into March beer, and was originally a term for beers brewed in March to avoid wild yeast strains that were predominant in April-September. Created independently in Munich and Vienna by, Gabriel Sedlmayr – Munich, Spaten Brewery and Anton Dreher – Vienna, Klein-Schwechat Brewery. Both men traveled Europe in the 1830’s and in 1833 they arrived in Britain together and learned (some might say stole) the method to create pale malts. As lager brewers they did not care for the yeast or wort of British ale brewers, however the malting process Brits used for pale, bitter, and IPAs was unique and not common on the continent. Ultimately the malts they produced are still the standard malts for this beer type, Munich and Vienna malt. Both Beers were introduced in 1841, and called them “Marzen”. Sedlmayr introduced his beer at the 1841 Oktoberfest – German harvest festival, and started calling it Oktoberfestbier in 1872. It was not a huge local success as the Bavarian beer drinkers preferred Dunkel-lager. Dreher’s beer was a huge success overnight as it was the palest lager brewed to date. 1870’s the Schwechat brewery was the biggest in Continental Europe (Bass was the largest in the world) due to the popularity of the Vienna Lager. Modern Vienna Lagers are not as commonly brewed in Vienna, but instead North America. Brews such as Sam Adams Boston Lager and Dos Equis Amber are the current standard bearers for Vienna Lager.

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