Oktoberfest Wiesn vs. Marzen

Discussion in 'BeerAdvocate Talk' started by ifnkovhg, Aug 19, 2019.

  1. Snowcrash000

    Snowcrash000 Poo-Bah (2,200) Oct 4, 2017 Germany
    Moderator Society Trader

    I was refereing specifically to Paulaner here, in reply to your post, which was also about Paulaner.
     
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  2. AlcahueteJ

    AlcahueteJ Meyvn (1,088) Dec 4, 2004 Massachusetts

    Well I say amber and PALE Oktoberfest, but close enough. :wink:

    If everyone plays by the rules, how would you TECHNICALLY label amber and pale Oktoberfest beers in the US?

    Pale is easy enough. You could simply call your beer an "Oktoberfest-style" beer. Similar to how you're supposed to call your beer a "Kolsch-style" beer if it's in the US.

    But since the amber style is no longer brewed for the actual festival in Munich, what the heck would you call that?

    I suppose "Märzen" would work. Even if it's technically just a strength designation in Germany, typically it's a higher gravity amber lager than a Vienna lager. So you'd know what you're getting. And while there's A LOT of confusion about what to call the pale style here in the US (BJCP says "Festbier", some imports say "Oktoberfestbier", Paulaner calls theirs a "Wiesn", this thread is titled as "Wiesn"), there's seemingly no confusion when a beer is labeled a "Märzen".

    This would be similar to how some beers are simply labeled as "Kellerbier". Usually these are pale lagers of some sort, but no specific style is listed other than "Kellerbier".
     
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  3. AlcahueteJ

    AlcahueteJ Meyvn (1,088) Dec 4, 2004 Massachusetts

    I know, I probably worded it in a confusing way.

    That's why I specifically said, "I think it was from Hacker-Pschorr though."

    I was just adding to the post by saying I did find the amber style in Munich during Oktoberfest.
     
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  4. Crusader

    Crusader Aspirant (288) Feb 4, 2011 Sweden

    What should be kept in mind is that American craft breweries, which these guidelines are meant for, are much less hemmed in my the contemporary brewing standards and tax systems of Germany, than breweries in Germany. In Germany the pale Export style (as well as the pilsner style) has been reduced in original gravity over time. In the early 1990s Germany shifted over from taxing beers according to gravity bands (where for example beers of 11-14% plato, i.e most German beer, made up the vollbier class and were taxed the same) to taxation based on the specific degree plato, so that each additional percentage plato increased the tax burden for the brewery, and each reduction in original gravity meant a tax savings.

    The classical Export strenght is between 13-14% plato, the classical Pilsner strenght is around 12% plato. The Dortmunder Export style was Export strenght only compared with the Bohemian lager, or Pilsner, of around 12%. In Bavaria 13-14% wasn't Export strenght, that was regular lagerbier strenght. Today you find that DAB Export is brewed to 11.8% plato, while a typical German pils is brewed to 11.3% plato. In order to capture this reality the style guidelines have to include gravities as low as 12% for the Export style, while historically the guidelines might well be near identical to those of the Festbier category. And since today's Festbiere have a degree of attenuation close to the old Export beer, one might say that the Festbier category could double as an historical pale Export lager category.
     
    #44 Crusader, Aug 20, 2019
    Last edited: Aug 20, 2019
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  5. officerbill

    officerbill Disciple (349) Feb 9, 2019 New York
    Society

    Ayinger seems to be using date codes now.
    First is old stock at my beer store, second is brand new stock at Wegmans
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
    #45 officerbill, Aug 20, 2019
    Last edited: Aug 20, 2019
  6. EmperorBatman

    EmperorBatman Initiate (75) Mar 16, 2018 District of Columbia

    Two hundred years ago, from 1810 (the first festival) to the 1840s or around 1850, it was a high-strength Dunkel of around 6% ABV. Pilsner, Helles, and Vienna Lager didn’t exist at this time yet, Dunkel was the only lager in existence. Then in the mid-19th century, Vienna malt became available and the beers became amber. In the 1980s, the beer served at Wiesn became pale and like a strong Helles, seemingly due to consumer demand that connected lighter color with drinkabity.
     
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  7. hopfenunmaltz

    hopfenunmaltz Meyvn (1,466) Jun 8, 2005 Michigan

    5.6% on Augustiner's website. Helles is 5.2, Oktoberfest is 6.
     
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  8. Crusader

    Crusader Aspirant (288) Feb 4, 2011 Sweden

    Lager beer brewing wasn't based on high abvs or high degrees of attenuation, one of the best examples of Bavarian lagerbier/märzenbier/sommerbier which exists today would be Schlenkerla Märzen, at 13.5% plato and 5.1% abv. In Bavarian brewing tradition strenght has to do with the original gravity, not the abv. High abvs are instead the forte (pun intended) of English ale historically. A starkbier is strong due to having 16% plato original gravity, what the abv is is of no concern.
     
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  9. EmperorBatman

    EmperorBatman Initiate (75) Mar 16, 2018 District of Columbia

    Also to add to my last post because this occurred to me to say this afterwards:

    The commonality between Märzen beer served for the Fest in all variations (Dunkel -> Vienna -> Helles ‘Wiesn’) is that they are all somewhat higher strength than the normal beer ordinarily consumed
     
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  10. EmperorBatman

    EmperorBatman Initiate (75) Mar 16, 2018 District of Columbia

    I wasn’t trying to imply that - lager is derived from a type of yeast and a brewing process, as we know. I was stating that Dunkel was the only type of lager (or color of lager?) available until Vienna malt was developed, followed closely by Pilsner. Before then, all lagers in Bavaria were dark regardless of strength...or, er, gravity.

    Regarding strength, I was explaining it as such because it’s the easiest way for modern drinkers to understand it, simply looking at the end result that higher starting gravity equals a stronger beer in the end.
     
    #50 EmperorBatman, Aug 20, 2019
    Last edited: Aug 20, 2019
  11. AlcahueteJ

    AlcahueteJ Meyvn (1,088) Dec 4, 2004 Massachusetts

    I looked it up and noticed that too. I could have sworn the bottles here have a 5.7% ABV on the labels.

    I also noticed the label on their website is not consistent with what we see here in the US either.

    Beer Advocate lists it as 5.7% ABV, so presumably at some point they were 5.7 (and of course someone could have input the ABV wrong, it does go back to 2002 when it was first entered).

    https://www.beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/820/4139/

    Although reading the latest review from July 28th, 2019, the first line of the review says this, "11.2oz bottle coded L263091805 poured into a becher glass at fridge temp 5.7% ABV."
     
  12. hopfenunmaltz

    hopfenunmaltz Meyvn (1,466) Jun 8, 2005 Michigan

    A German beer going to a lower ABV? I'm shocked. @Crusader discussed the reason above. Might be a US thing.
     
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  13. hottenot

    hottenot Aspirant (240) Aug 13, 2018 North Carolina
    Society

    For what it's worth, I spent 30 months in Germany. I have been to 3 fests.
    The bier was always a Vienna Lager or a lager in general.
    The only time I have seen an amber Oktoberfest is in the USA.
     
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  14. ifnkovhg

    ifnkovhg Initiate (183) Aug 12, 2008 California

    According to this article, the original beers served were Marzens. They switched to the Wiesn style some time in the 90s, apparently.

    https://learn.kegerator.com/festbier/
     
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  15. steveh

    steveh Poo-Bah (2,270) Oct 8, 2003 Illinois

    Why does this article put umlauts over the "e" in Märzen? Pretty telling on the accuracy of the author. :wink:

    First of all, Märzen was a process long before it was a style or strength designation, so yes -- the first beers served at the 1810 Festival had to be Märzens because they were brewed before the wild yeast flew in the summer wind.

    Märzen as a style designation didn't really get coined until Sedlmayr used it as a marketing tool for his new beer when he served it in 1872 (claiming it was a "true" Märzen in that it was brewed in March and left to mature over the summer -- all other Märzen was consumed thru the summer months until brewing could resume in Autumn -- not left in caves for the summer, do you think the good people of Munich would be deprived of their beer?).

    Before Sedlmayr introduced his Amber Märzen, the majority of beer served in Munich was Dunkel.

    @hottenot -- the beer I enjoyed at my first Munich Oktoberfest in 1990 was of the Amber variety. I was also able to find Spaten and Paulaner Amber Märzen at beer halls and beer gardens around Munich in following years. The style is no myth.
     
  16. lastmango

    lastmango Champion (815) Dec 11, 2014 Pennsylvania
    Society

    Was in the beer distributor today in Greensburg, PA asking about Paulaner Oktoberfest Weisn. She last saw a case 4 years ago. They only get the Marzen.
     
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  17. nc41

    nc41 Poo-Bah (1,942) Sep 25, 2008 North Carolina
    Trader

    For this site I just assumed Fest Beer is understood to be Pale. If I’m talking to my dad or brother I’d have to Splain things.
     
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  18. jeebeel

    jeebeel Initiate (176) Jun 17, 2003 Texas

    Agreed, but unfortunately I don't think I've seen a märzen on draft in Munich in a long time with the exceptions of my visit to Giesinger in June and maybe the Paulaner Bräuhaus at Kapuzinerplatz about 10 years ago. And this includes many visits to many of the gasthäuser, beergardens, etc. of the traditional breweries in and around Munich. What I did notice recently was that kellerbier was way more on offer than ever, which was great, but not märzen (which I would have loved too).

     
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  19. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (4,155) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Society

    Cheers to you!
     
  20. KevSal

    KevSal Meyvn (1,028) Oct 17, 2010 California
    Trader

    wtf is a weisn? first time if heard of it, makes no sense to continue to split hairs at this point
     
  21. ifnkovhg

    ifnkovhg Initiate (183) Aug 12, 2008 California

    Gotcha. So we'll put you in the "nay" column.
    ; )
     
  22. steveh

    steveh Poo-Bah (2,270) Oct 8, 2003 Illinois

    There is no such thing as a Weisn; there's a Weizen or Weiß and there's a Wiesn Festbier that has become a Munich slang for the Festbier served at the Theresienwiesn, but any mention of "Weisn" is a typo.
     
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  23. zid

    zid Meyvn (1,333) Feb 15, 2010 New York
    Society Trader

    I’m a broken record on the topic. The desire to have Schlenkerla change the name of their Marzen for the American market illustrates the problem. Schlenkerla absolutely needs to keep the name... it’s the style guide mentality that needs to change. We’ve become the tail wagging the dog.

    We want to morph beer terms into categories with style characteristics and found that we’ve painted ourselves into a corner.

    Oktoberfestbiers can be amber or golden Marzens. Done... but that would be too easy. Instead, we can’t live with calling a golden Oktoberfest Marzen a golden Oktoberfest Marzen since we’ve convinced ourselves otherwise. So we struggle, because we NEED a name to separate this and that, and come up with Festbier and Wiesn because we find imports with these names on them. It doesn’t seem to matter or deter us that Wiesn is just a Paulaner beer and Festbier is already a term that includes ANY Oktoberfestbier.

    In my opinion, splitting up the categories on BeerAdvocate into Marzen and Festbier (for example) would be a mistake. Personally, I don’t like how this site currently has Oktoberfestbiers in the “dark lager” category - as if BA was also using AALs as the reference point to judge other lagers. The Oktoberfestbier color range is the same as pale ale, and we don’t think of pale ales as “dark ales.”

    If one looks at the BJCP (and reads between the lines a little), it’s actually saying that beers in the real world (in both the past and the present) do not subscribe to their definition. Why should anyone here then?

    The German Brewer’s Association uses a picture of a light golden beer in their Marzen description.
     
  24. AlcahueteJ

    AlcahueteJ Meyvn (1,088) Dec 4, 2004 Massachusetts

    Can they be amber or golden?

    At the actual festival (and in Munich in general) you won't find a beer with the name "Oktoberfestbier" that is amber.

    And vice versa, year-round in Germany you likely won't find a beer labeled as "Märzen" that is golden in color.

    While I agree with some of your points, and they're good ones, your post simply focuses on color.

    There's also a difference in flavor profile between the two styles. If the difference was simply about color, the BJCP would just call it one style and widen the SRM range.

    But as I've said numerous times, should we start lumping Vienna lagers and Helles into one category? And then just call them amber and golden lagers?
     
  25. steveh

    steveh Poo-Bah (2,270) Oct 8, 2003 Illinois

    Some of the regular posters in the Germany forum have mentioned finding the Amber Märzen in the past (though I can't recall how long ago, just that it was since my last visit). I think we need to employ some of the travelers to do a little research. @Bierman9 goes to Munich every year, maybe he can help.

    The Seehaus (Paulaner) is the last spot I saw Amber Märzen on tap, be a good place to start.
     
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  26. Crusader

    Crusader Aspirant (288) Feb 4, 2011 Sweden

    Hacker Pschorr's Oktoberfestbier is typically noted for its darker hue (I have not had it myself) compared with the other Oktoberfestbiere. See for example the video below from 2011 where brewmaster Christian Dahnke notes that it is bernsteinfarben (amber colored) at 4:50, which he explains by the large proportion of Munich malt.

     
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  27. Snowcrash000

    Snowcrash000 Poo-Bah (2,200) Oct 4, 2017 Germany
    Moderator Society Trader

    Hacker-Pschorr is actually the only one of the Munich Six breweries that still labels their Oktoberfest beer as a Märzen.

    [​IMG]
     
  28. Crusader

    Crusader Aspirant (288) Feb 4, 2011 Sweden

    As late as last year they used to show two different beers on the website, one called Oktoberfestbier and the other Oktoberfest Märzen, the former is now missing from the website, and they advertise the one above under their Oktoberfest webpage.
     
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  29. AlcahueteJ

    AlcahueteJ Meyvn (1,088) Dec 4, 2004 Massachusetts

    Interesting. I've also never been to that tent, but this is the first time I've heard any of the six Munich breweries still produced an amber Oktoberfest.

    Googling pictures of that tent show beers that certainly do look amber as well.

    @Bierman9?
     
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  30. officerbill

    officerbill Disciple (349) Feb 9, 2019 New York
    Society

    Are you talking for domestic (German) sales? Paulaner labels their Oktoberfest as a märzen, at least in the US.
    [​IMG]
     
  31. cheeseheadinMinneapolis

    cheeseheadinMinneapolis Aspirant (225) Sep 20, 2017 Minnesota

  32. Snowcrash000

    Snowcrash000 Poo-Bah (2,200) Oct 4, 2017 Germany
    Moderator Society Trader

    That is only available in the US, not in Germany, at least according to their German website.
     
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  33. officerbill

    officerbill Disciple (349) Feb 9, 2019 New York
    Society

    Had a feeling that might be the case. It seems Americans still associate märzens with Oktoberfest even though that style is no longer served there.
     
  34. steveh

    steveh Poo-Bah (2,270) Oct 8, 2003 Illinois

    But both that bottle and the one in the pic you posted say Oktoberfest Märzen on their labels -- are you sure they're different? Send me a bottle and I'll compare them for everyone. :wink:

    I brought back a can of H-P "Oktoberfestbier" from Munich on one of my last trips overseas. Had that same label with the beer queens marching... beer inside was the Festbier. Was so disappointed I poured it out. Right down my throat. :smiley:
     
  35. steveh

    steveh Poo-Bah (2,270) Oct 8, 2003 Illinois

    Sorry -- I bobbled the 2 labels and thought the Paulaner was H-P for some reason (long day), but nevertheless -- the bottles of H-P I have here say Original Oktoberfest Amber Märzen on them, so I have to wonder if it's the same or different from the H-P bottles pictured.

    And yeah, the can of Festbier I brought back was Paulaner... but it was still poured down my neck. :wink:
     
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  36. Snowcrash000

    Snowcrash000 Poo-Bah (2,200) Oct 4, 2017 Germany
    Moderator Society Trader

    Perhaps they label them differently in the US, that would not appear to be uncommon. I cannot find any mention of 'Original Oktoberfest Amber Märzen' on their website though, neither the German nor international one.

    And yes, the German Oktoberfest Bier by Paulaner is labeled Oktoberfest Wiesn in the US. Apparently the Märzen is only being brewed for export purposes anymore, which really shows how much the style has fallen out of fashion, at least on the Wiesn.
     
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  37. EmperorBatman

    EmperorBatman Initiate (75) Mar 16, 2018 District of Columbia

    I’m curious about the decline of Märzen in Germany in general, and that apparent upsurge in Kellerbier, which I thought was generally a provincial style - the haze craze has come to Germany, and they summoned up a homegrown response? I suppose that correlates to the upsurge of interest for NEIPA and Zwickl further down the Danube in Austria. Still, why at the expense of Märzen?
     
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  38. steveh

    steveh Poo-Bah (2,270) Oct 8, 2003 Illinois

    The biggest point I was making is that Hacker-Pschorr labels both export and local beer "Märzen," and others have mentioned that the H-P am Wiesn is pretty amber in color... sounds like Amber Märzen isn't quite dead yet.
     
  39. jeebeel

    jeebeel Initiate (176) Jun 17, 2003 Texas

    Based on my visits to Munich and surrounding areas, I don't see any connection between the reemergence of kellerbier (which thankfully has nothing to do with hazy/milky IPAs or US craft beer fads in general) and the long-standing relative absence of märzen. The former is fairly recent, the latter not so much.

    Interestingly, both styles have always been around in Unterfranken (Lower Franconia), where my German relatives are. It's the area around Würzburg. There, kellerbier is often called landbier or zwicklbier, and it may any color from gold to brown. And it's always good.
     
  40. Crusader

    Crusader Aspirant (288) Feb 4, 2011 Sweden

    I think it is necessary to separate the story of Märzenbier at the Oktoberfest from Märzenbier brewed outside of Munich, as well as from the growth in popularity of kellerbier. Secondly though I think the reason why kellerbier is adopted even by large brewers is that it can offer visual ques of differentiation (darker colors from roasted malt, in this case caramel malt, as well as haze haze from less filtration) and it can be brewed at a contemporary original gravity of around 12% or lower (see for example Bitburger whose kellerbier is brewed to 11.8%), making for an easier drinking beer. I think a Dunkel for example would simply be too dark and roasty to win over alot of people not already drinking the style, but a slightly darker color with milder caramel flavor (similar to Boston Lager, SNPA, Anchor Steam etc.) is something more people can accept.
     
    #80 Crusader, Aug 22, 2019
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2019
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