brew day: Wies’n-Märzen

Wiesen/Wies’n

Among several words that are confusingly similar to the non-German speaker, this one means “meadow”. It implies a beer brewed for a carnival or festival (an Oktoberfest beer may be described as a Wies’n Marzen) or a rustic speciality.

Michael Jackson, beerhunter.com

 

“There is a popular myth that there is one distinctive style of beer brewed for Oktoberfest – but historical evidence shows there have been many changes in the beers served at the festival … in the first 60 or so years the then popular Bavarian dunkel seems to have dominated … up until World War I, Bock-strength beers dominated the Wiesn. For decades reddish-brown Marzenbier ruled the tents, but … since 1990 all Oktoberfest beers brewed in Munich have been of a golden color … with medium body and low to moderate bitterness.”

Conrad Seidl, The Oxford Companion to Beer

Well then.

Technically I missed my cutoff to brew an honest Märzen this year, but since my Wies’n (why, what do you call your backyard?) is under some fresh, wet April snow I feel like I can fudge it a little.

Because it’s a little late, and because there’s a high probability that temptation will get the best of me and enjoyment will commence before Oktober, today’s brew session is going paler than my past O-fests, a la Paulaner’s Wies’n or Ayinger’s Oktoberfest. More of an overbuilt Helles, blonde with tracers of sweet-spicy Tettnanger pungence: something that won’t feel too out of place mid-summer. But honestly, you had me back at “rustic speciality.”

Wies’n-Märzen
Target OG: 1.058

Grist:

  • 92% German Pils
  • 8% German Munich

Mash:

  • 135°F for 30′
  • 158°F for 20′
  • Mashout at 170°F for 10′

Boil:

  • Tettnanger (pellet, 3.7% aa) at FWH to 24 IBU
  • Tettnanger (pellet, 3.7% aa) at 15′ to 2 IBU

Fermentation:

  • Chill to 45F, O2 and pitch with Wyeast 2487 Hella Bock
  • Free rise up to 56-57F over approx. 48 hours.
  • Once we hit TG and diacetyl-negative: fine, rack, crash cool, try to forget it’s there. Like you do.

 

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22 thoughts on “brew day: Wies’n-Märzen

  1. Also my favorite style, well on of! I brewed your aletoberfest for the last two years! Has to be “my” best recipe to date!

  2. Also my favorite. We brew 10 gallons every year for our Oktoberfest celebration and over time have converted a lot of “haters” to homebrew enthusiasts.

  3. O-fest/Marzen is one of my all-time favorites too – Paulaner Oktoberfest in particular was a first love and catalyst for a lot of subsequent lager brewing nerdery.

    • This is true for me too. I fell in love with Paulaner Oktoberfest the same autumn (2008) that I started home brewing. Have been chasing that flavor ever since.

    • Same here. There are other ‘fests that I have come across since that may suit my palate more, but Paulaner is special to me. It’s always on my short list for go-to fall beers.

      Having said that, I tend to like my homebrew fests on the darker/fuller side. My fests are more in line with the typical Munich/Vienna/Pils malt bill with a splash of CaraMunich. My current one in the chamber even has a dash of Aromatic to crank that Munichy/dark bread crust note up to 11.

      Your recipe sort of fills in that gap between Helles and Maibock, which makes a killer beer. Sort of a tangent – your recipe is also a great starting point for an APL (the APA version of an Indian Pale Lager).

  4. MD (or any other who can answer), does this style of Marzen fit into an BJCP guidelines? Does it fit the standard Oktoberfest/Marzen category? I’m planning to brew the darker/maltier version this Saturday but thought I might make a recipe like this behind it, with a repitch of the yeast (WY2487 as well). Serving at a party this fall but don’t want the casual home-brew fans all confused by these two beers being in the same category while looking completely different….

    • The current conception of the style seems to revolve so tightly around that amber, Vienna-style template, I have to believe it’d get docked pretty hard in a competition for appearance (too pale) and flavor/aroma (lack of Vienna and/or Munich malt character).

  5. Curious, MD, your thoughts on Summit’s take on this style with the Unchained Fest Bier. The recipe formulation seems to be along the same lines but I believe Nate Siats used a small amount of CaraMunich in the bill as well. Marzen? Wiesn? Neither?

    • Summit Fest is a really great beer, especially on draft at the taproom – a little more toasty and biscuit than mine should turn out, but hey. What I wrote above about a recipe like mine getting docked in a comp entered as an O-fest would apply to Nate’s beer too, but – just as with the Paulaner Wiesn – it’s fascinating to me how much territory there is within traditional European beer outside the parameters of the BJCP and BA style guides.

  6. After perusing some classic style recipes, this looks like it falls somewhere in Helles and Dortmunder Export territory….and probably closer to Helles. Looks like a good recipe.

    Did you decoct your mash? Or just do infusions/direct heat?

  7. Hi Michael, I love your blog! Love the old btv days, and when you make cameos on C&B! I have a question for you. When you lager this, do you do it in a keg, or a glass carboy? After a very close call with a broken glass carboy, I only use plastic, and I wanted to make an o-fest, but only have kegs to lager in. If I do lager in a keg, should I keep it on C02, or just enough c02 to make sure the lid seals? Thanks!

    • Cheers, Johnny – thanks for the comment.

      I almost exlusively lager in kegs now (can fit more in freezer, saves racking). I purge with CO2 before filling, then keep just enough pressure in the headspace during lagering to maintain a good seal with the lid.

  8. Heya Mike! I brewed this beer about 8 weeks ago and just put it on draught – man is it tasty! I hit your starting gravity (1.058) and finished out at 1.010 using WLP830. I also hit it with 6oz of Tettnanger in the keg for a 10g batch which gave it a nice floral, almost lemon flower note. Dangerously drinkable. Thanks for sharing. I’m sure it will go over very well at our Oktoberfest party.

    Zum Wohl!

    • Ya know, I’ve been a model of restraint this summer … it’s still lagering undisturbed, but will be going on soon. Follow up/tasting notes to come!

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