One of my (many) gateway craft beers was Samuel Adam’s Oktoberfest. As a twenty-something year old, I found the malty-sweet, slightly roasty flavor of Sam Oktoberfest incredibly approachable and tasty.
In fact, Sam Oktoberfest was so influential in my early craft beer drinking days that I purchased an Oktoberfest lager recipe kit after having brewed just a handful of homebrew batches. Unfortunately, I did not have fermentation temperature control in my brewing equipment arsenal at that time, so I delayed brewing the recipe kit for approximately 12 months until once I had my keezer up and running.
The recipe kit featured Pilsner, Munich, Caramel 40L, Carapils & Roasted Barley malts, Hallteratuer Hersbrucker hops and Wyeast 2633 – Octoberfest Lager Blend yeast. Brewed almost exactly 10 years ago to the day, I do not recall how good (or bad) that batch turned out. Though, due to the time and temperature constraints of brewing traditional lagers, I avoided brewing my next lager until Mountain Pilsner #1, nearly 9 years later!
Fast forward to September 2020 – after drinking Sam Oktoberfest with a (former) co-worker, I decided to whip up a batch of my own – Mountain Märzen #1!
According the BJCP 6A style guidelines, traditional German Märzen emphasize Munich Malt. Having never used Mecca Grade Metolius Munich-style Malt before, I reach out to owner Seth Klann for advice on the Mountain Marzen #1 grist. He recommended a 50/50 split of Metolius and Lamonta Pale Malt, which is exactly what I used.
Yet again, I employed the Russian River STS Pils step mash regimen that I used for Mountain Pilsner #1 and #2 (130°F for 30 minutes / 140°F for 30 minutes / 150°F for 30 minutes / 168°F mash out). This mash regimen has been exceptional for my lager beers, allowing me to have predictable mash efficiencies and highly attenuated finished beer.
With a freezer full of Willamette hops, I added 0.3 oz/gal at 60 minutes for a total of 27 IBUs. The total boil duration was 60 minutes, after which I chilled the wort down to 65°F. I nailed my starting gravity of 1.060.
After pitching Imperial Yeast L17 Harvest, I warm fermented for approximately one month at 65°F before cold crashing to 30°F for two weeks. The beer achieved a final gravity of 1.006 for attenuation of nearly 90%! I love L17 Harvest for that reason!
For Mountain Märzen #1, I used distilled water and added brewing mineral to achieve Bru’n Water‘s Amber Full water profile of 48ppm Ca, 5ppm Mg, 16ppm Na, 64ppm Cl, and 57ppm SO4.
Mountain Märzen #1 recipe can be found here: https://share.brewfather.app/1CRG3Sp1dRZ2YG.
Mountain Märzen #1 was brewed on October 6, 2020. It finished at 1.006 SG for an ABV of 7.1% – quite a bit higher than expected/planned. Despite not being packaged until November 25, 2020 (about two months late!), this Oktoberfest-style lager was still phenomenal.
Appearance – Mountain Märzen #1 pours a copper penny hue with a sticky off-white head into my Wili Becher glass. There was noticeable effervescence when first opening the can with bubble that persist by floating to the rim of the glass several minutes after decanting. Nearly crystal clear – this beer definitely looks the part of an Oktoberfest.
Smell – Heaps of toffee and homemade fresh baked bread at first sniff. As it warms, more and more Wonder Bread-sitting-on-the-kitchen-counter-during-a-warm-summer-day crust aroma pushes forward. Every now and then I catch aromas of neat bourbon.
Taste – The first sip reminds me of Cow Tales from gas station pit stops on trips to Maine – caramel & cream candy level 100! Acorn-like nuttiness flavors outcompete the caramel as the beer beer shrinks sip after sip.
Mouthfeel – No perceivable bitterness but this beer has a pleasant slightly creamy mouthfeel at first with a fleeting finish and no lingering aftertaste.
Overall – Interesting yet quaffable, it’s delicious and not at all cloying or sweet. It is entirely possible to drink far too many of these since the beer hides it 7.1% ABV incredibly well!
Changes For Next Time – The only change I would make to this recipe would be lowering the original gravity from 1.060 to 1.050 to target a sub 6% ABV. I enjoy this one a lot a look forward to a second batch later this fall!