How to Brew – Oktoberfest Märzen

Oktoberfest is right around the corner, so what better time to brew the perfect German festival beer – Märzen!

Whereas the Vienna was intended to be the everyday premium drinking beer, the Märzen was made for festivals. The original festival was a royal wedding sometime in 1810, and they have been celebrating annually ever since. This rich amber style incorporates quite a bit of variation, from being soft and malty, malty and dry, to malty and balanced, and malty/bitter. Be that as it may, the hallmark of the Märzen style is the maltiness and a dryer finish to make it less filling.

Our favorite Märzen recipe is this one from John Palmer’s How to Brew. One sip of this beer and you’ll feel like you’re listening to polka in Munich!

Oktoberfest Märzen

Prep:

To start, fill a brew kettle with 5 gallons of water and heat it to our sparge temperature of 175° F. Transfer the sparge water to your cooler mash tun. Fill the kettle with 3.75g of water and heat it to our strike temperature (the temperature we add our grain) using a floor burner. You want to heat the water to 162° F to achieve your target mash temperature of 150° F. While the water is heating up, use a grain mill to crush your grain into grist for the mash and prep your mash tun.

Mash:

When the water reaches 162° F, turn off your burner and add your grain bag to the kettle using a spoon to push the bottom of the bag to the base of the kettle. The opening of the bag should stretch around the rim of the kettle. Now is the time to dough in (add all the milled grain). When doughing in, pour the grain slowly into the mash tun and stir to prevent dough balls from forming, as that will limit your extraction of sugars. Once all the grain is mixed in properly, check to ensure temperature is around 150° F, then close the lid and set a timer to 60 minutes. Every 15 minutes, give the mash a nice stir to ensure equal temperatures throughout the grain bed.

Lauter:

Lautering is the process of separating the grain from the liquid, which is now sweet wort. Wearing your brewing gloves, slowly lift the grain bag out of the kettle until it is above the liquid line. While it is suspended above the wort, gently spin the bag to remove excess liquid. Some brewers frown upon straining the excess liquid because it is said to pull out tannins from the grain, but we have not noticed any negative effects and this step yields maximum wort while making cleanup easier.

Sparge:

Sparging rinses the grain bed and pulls out any remaining sugar. With this process, we do a batch sparge at the end of the mash. Place the grain bag in a secondary vessel such as a bucket or another kettle. Pour the sparge water into the mashtun and give it a good stir. Let it sit 10-15 minutes, lauter it just as you did in the previous step and then pour the wort into your boil kettle.

Boil:

Heat wort to a boil. Be careful when nearing boiling because of hot break – a brief period of foaming that can easily cause a huge mess. Stirring the wort and approaching the boil slowly is the easiest way to prevent boil over from hot break. Once the boil is reached, start a timer for 60 minutes. With 40 minutes left in the boil, add 1oz. of Tettnanger hops. With 30 minutes left, add 1oz. of Liberty hops. When there are 15 minutes left on the timer, place your immersion chiller in the boil to sanitize it.

Post-boil:

We want to get our wort cooled as quickly as possible so run hose/ground water through the immersion chiller to get the wort as cold as possible, then use an ice bath to reach our pitching temperature of 52° F. When the proper temperature is reached, transfer the wort to your primary fermenting vessel and pitch yeast. Ferment at 52° F for four or five days before ramping the temperature up to 58° F over the next two weeks. Then you’ll move on to lagering at 35° F for six weeks.

From there, you can either bottle it or keg it at that point, which is a process for another post.

Oktoberfest Märzen
Author: John Palmer – How To Brew
Brew MethodBIAB
Style NameMärzen
Boil Time60 min
Batch Size5 gallons (fermenter volume)
Boil Size6 gallons
Boil Gravity1.043
EfficiencyEst. 70%(brew house)
STATS:
Original Gravity 1.051
Final Gravity 1.018
ABV (standard) 4.34%
IBU (tinseth) 28.49
SRM (morey) 11.45
HOPS
1 oz – Tettnanger
TypePellet
AA4.5
UseBoil for 40 min
IBU16.02
1 oz – Liberty
TypePellet
AA4
UseBoil for 30 min
IBU12.47
Mash Guidelines
Infusion, Temp:150ºF
Time:60 min
Amount:3 gal.
YEAST
White Labs – Oktoberfest/Marzen Lager Yeast WLP820
Starter:No
Form:LIquid
Attenuation (avg):69%
Flocculation:Medium
Optimum Temp:52-58ºF
Fermentation Temp:52ºF
Lagering Temp:35ºF
Pitch Rate:0.35 (M cells/ml/deg P)
Fermentables
8lb. German – Vienna (80%)
8oz. German – CaraMunich I (5%)
8oz. American – Carmel / Crystal 80L (5%)
1lb. German – Munich Light (10%)

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