Märzen lager (all-grain)

When I first started brewing last year, my first few batches were, well, let’s be honest, pretty awful.  The first actual decent beer I made was a Märzen.  Maryland Homebrew has a really great extract recipe for one, which is really a solid beer for starting out.  “Märzen”, (say it: Mare-t-zen. good!) which is German for “from the month of March”, is great style for any occasion – medium bodied, slightly on the maltier side, but makes for a great, easy-drinking German beer.  This time around, since I’m in all-grain mode, I decided to make this again and also LAGER it. Time consuming, yes, but in most cases well worth the wait.  Since I just built out a new kegerator, this will serve as an excellent lagering chamber for maintaining the right temperatures I need!

Alright, here’s the recipe:

  • 8 lb Weyermann pilsner malt
  • 2 lb Weyermann Munich malt
  • 0.5 lb caramunich malt
  • 0.5 lb vienna malt
  • 1 oz hallertauer hops (4.3 %aa, 60 min)
  • 1 oz hallertauer hops, 30 min
  • WYeast 2308 Munich Lager

Pretty simple! And cheap, too… this batch cost me $24, which will make 5 gallons of beer (about 2 cases, or 48 bottles).  Extract would have been likely $40+, so going all-grain definitely has its perks!  If we’re gettin’ really technical, this recipe even abides by the “German purity law” or “Reinheitsgebot”, which is an ancient (yr. 1500’s) law that states beer should only be  made with the four essential ingredients – water, malted barley, hops, and yeast.  That wouldn’t normally matter to me so much, because I love Belgian beers which usually have spices and fruit and all kinds of other junk in it :D.  But, it’s fun to note.  I’m really excited to mash actual German malts rather than extract –  *hopefully* this will really bring out that authentic German taste, which I really missed the mark on making the extract Bitburger clone.

Brew day went pretty smooth – mashed at 152 for 60 minutes, sparged to collect 6 gallons, and boiled for 60 minutes. Chilled it down to 65 then pitched a starter yeast batch and aerated, then stuck it in the kegerator at ~52 degrees. The lower fermentation temperation means it’s gonna take longer than usual to ferment fully, so after about 12 days it was bubbling about once a minute. I took it out of the fridge to warm up and finish off the last bit of fermentation at ~65 degrees and the bubbling increased to once every 30s, and then back down again after 3 days.

As soon as I opened up the primary bucket and took a whiff, I knew this thing was a winner. It had that rich bready smell of German beers, specifically Märzen/Oktoberfest, which smells freakin’ amazing. The taste is bready, slightly toasted with a malty base and hints of caramel. If I had to make one food comparison, it almost smells like a really good pretzel. The gravity read 1.008 and I could seriously just keg this right now and be happy, but now’s time for the actual lager-ing phase. For the three lagers i’ve done thus far, I normally rack to a secondary, then plop it in the fridge for 2 months to let it do its thing. This time, I wanna see if it’s truly worth the wait. I’m gonna give it 3 weeks tops in the fridge and see how it tastes. Maybe those two months of waiting isn’t totally necessary, and 3 weeks will churn out a perfectly decent beer!  Can’t wait to see how this turns out.

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Filed under Lager, Maerzen

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