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Brewing Marzen and Oktoberfest Beer Recipes

Brewing Marzen and Oktoberfest Beer Recipes

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Published by Brad Smith
A guide to brewing Marzen and Oktoberfest beers at home including home brewing recipes, a description of the style and how to build a recipe.
A guide to brewing Marzen and Oktoberfest beers at home including home brewing recipes, a description of the style and how to build a recipe.

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Published by: Brad Smith on Dec 22, 2009
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08/08/2010

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By Brad Smith – Originally posted on our BeerSmith Home Brewing Blog – Subscribe here The German Marzen and Oktoberfest beer styles are seasonal favorites of beer drinkersworldwide. This week we take a look at the traditional Marzen and Oktoberfest beer recipes andhow to brew them at home.Marzen has a mixed origin. Some sources note the extremely close relationship between Marzenand Vienna beers. Ray Daniels notes that the term Marzen was first used for beers brewed inVienna in the 1700’s. Marzen is also close in relation to brown beers brewed in Bavaria as earlyas the 16th century, though the term Marzen was not originally applied to this style. Mostmodern authors attribute the origin of the name "Marzen" to Vienna, as no references can befound of Munich Marzen’s prior to the late 19th century (Ref:Daniels
 
), though simillar styleswere being brewed in Bavaria much earlier.Marzen, the German word for the month of March, refers to the month when these beers wereoriginally brewed. Summer was too hot to brew and ferment beers properly, so by a 1539ordinance in Bavaria, beer could only be brewed between the days of St Michael and SaintGeorge (29 Sept-23 April).As beer was not brewed in the summer, the last beers of Spring were made with a higher alcoholcontent and stored in cellars, often refrigerated with ice to last the summer. This higher gravity beer was named after the month when most were brewed - March or Marzen.The modern Marzen and Oktoberfest styles may bear little resemblence to the early Marzen of Vienna or even Munich. The early Marzen was described as dark, brown and full bodied. Infact, the turmoil of the wars of the early 20th century Europe nearly brought an end to bothMarzen and Vienna style beers, though the modern Marzen enjoyed a resurgence in popularitywhen the Munich Oktoberfest started up again after World War II. The Oktoberfest style, aslightly stronger version of Marzen, is brewed specifically for the world famous Munich festivaleach year.
The Marzen Beer Style
TheBJCP style guide describes Marzen as as a rich, slightly malty beer with a slight hint of  toasted character from Vienna malt. No roasted or caramel flavors are present, and the beer hasa fairly dry finish. Noble hops are present though should be only lightly perceived in thefinished beer which is decidedly malty.The original gravity of a Marzen is in the 1.050-1.057 range, lightly bittered with noble hops providing 20-28 IBUs of bitterness. Some “fest” beers are brewed at a slightly higher startinggravity. The beer is well attenuated, with a finishing gravity of 1.012-1.016. Color should begolden to orange-amber with a color range of 7-14 SRM. The alcohol by volume is 4.8%-5.7%and Marzen’s are usually fairly well carbonated.
Brewing a Marzen Recipe
Marzen is generally made from a combination of Munich, 2-row Pale Malt, Pilsner and Viennamalts. Generally, the malty Munich malts makes up as much as half of the grain bill, with either Pilser or Pale Malt making the balance of the grain bill. For extract recipes, a Munich basedextract made from Munich and Pale malt is generally best to use as a base. Vienna may be addedto substitute for 10-15% of the Munich malt to add a slightly more toasted flavor. A small

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