What is Marzen beer?
Märzen is a traditional style (pale lager) of beer associated with Bavaria, Germany. It was traditionally brewed in the cooler spring weather, specifically in the month of March (AKA “Marzen” in German) in order to avoid the hot temperatures of summer which are less friendly to the fermentation process. These beers were lagered, or stored, in cool caves until they were ready for consumption in the summer, fall, and winter following.
Nowadays, as in the past, these beers are associated with changing seasons – hence why we see them pop up in late summer and early fall. German Märzen beers vary in color from pale (Helles Märzen) to amber to dark brown (Dunkles Märzen). Austrian styles tend to be lighter in color, body, and flavor.
“Oktoberfest” or “festbier” are more recent style designations. Nowadays they have become essentially interchangeable names for the evocative burnished-gold to coppery, malty lager beers that favor brisk early Autumn weather.
Marzen style beers are great options for folks that like malty, amber, and less hoppy style beers. Some can be quite light and refreshing but others are darker, fuller bodied, and even smoky. In general they tend to be pretty affordable, so grabbing a few different styles to try out won’t break the bank. Stop by your local bottle shop to have a taste!