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Brewing Marzen


John Leichel


Except for minor changes, this article was presented at the March 1999 meeting of the Silicon Valley Sudzers.

Brewing Marzen


  Vienna Marzen-Octoberfest
Original Gravity 1.048-1.055 1.052-1.064
Hop flavor low-med Low
Hop aroma low-med. Low
Color ( L or SRM) 8-12 7-14
Apparent extract 1.012-1.018 1.012-1.020
Alcohol (ABV) 1.012-1.018 1.012-1.020
Alcohol (ABV) 4.4-6 4.8-6.5
Esters none none
Diacetyl low low
Other low malt sweetness
Toasted malt aroma
Malty sweet toasted
malt aroma and flavor

These characteristics are from C. Papazian, "Introducing : Beer Style Guidelines: Part 2",

"The New Brewer" (March-April 1992, page 25-28). Because marzen/Octoberfests developed from, and is closely related to the Vienna style I’ve included it here. The gravities are higher for both than I would put them. I think of the Viennas starting about 1.045 and ending in the low 1.050’s, and the marzens ending in the low 1.060’s. Most commercial marzens in Germany are in the low-mid 1.050’s.

Notice, however, that in general marzens are higher in alcohol, more full bodied, less bitter, and slightly darker. Notice also the toasted malt flavor and aroma. Others (especially those who have had them in Germany) also feel this is part of the style, even though most of them over here don’t have much, if any, of this in them. For those who would like to add them, they may toast about 10% of the pilsener malt. This can be done by heating the grain on a cookie sheet in the oven at 350 F for about

5-10 minutes.

Extract Recipe (5 gallon)

Light dry extract        70%
Amber dry extract        10%
DWC aromatic malt 10% 20 L
German light crystal 5% 20 L
German dark crystal 5% 40 L

If German light crystal is unavailable, then DWC caravienne at 22 L can be substituted. If

German dark crystal is unavailable, then DWC caramunich at 60 L can be substituted.


All Grain Recipe

DWC pilsener malt 50% 1.8 L
DWC munich malt 30% 7.8 L
DWC aromatic malt 10% 20 L
German light crystal 5% 20 L
German dark crystal 5% 40 L


Substitutions for the light and dark crystal as in the extract recipe are acceptible.


Exract Grain "Mash"

Heat aromatic and crystal malts to boiling, then sparge into kettle. Alternatively, simmer the grains at 156 F for 15-30 min., then sparge into kettle.

All Grain Mashing (recommendations)

Infusion: 152 -153 F

Temperature Program: 2-step:

122 F for 30 min. and 152 -153 F for 60 min. (perhaps slightly higher if a protein rest gives better attenuation inyour system.


George Fix’s 50-60-70 temperature program

122 F for 30 min.
140 F for 30 min.
158 F for 30 min.

Decoction: The traditional way. Can be discussed if desired.

Points to remember:

    1. Lower sugar rest temperatures favor beta amylaze for a drier beer.

    2. Higher sugar rest temperatures favor alpha amylaze for a sweeter beer.

    3. Thinner mashes favor beta amylaze. Thicker mashes favor alpha amylaze.

    4. Higher pH favors beta amylaze. Lower pH favors alpha amylaze.


Hops and boiling

Varieties: Hallertauer "family", Tettnanger (Germain or domestic), Saaz (Czech or domestic)

Alpha acid range: 4 – 6 %. The Hallertauer "family" includes Mittelfrueh, Tradition,

domestic Hallertauer, Mt. Hood, Liberty, and Crystal. Some people include Ultra and

and Hersbrucker.

Additions (per 5 gallons, 4-4.5% alpha assumed)

60 min boil: 3/4 oz at 45 min

1/2 oz at 30 min

3/4 oz at 15 min

90 min boil: 3/4 oz at 60 min

1/2 oz at 30 min

3/4 oz at 15 min

Waiting 15 minutes to add hops allows the first hot break to occur without dropping hops with it. Waiting 30 min allows the first two hot breaks to occur without dropping hops with them. Malty, low bitterness lagers do not commonly have hops boiled longer than 60 minutes. For the 60 minute boil you may increase the hop alpha acid or quantity slightly to match the 90 minute boil. Some brewers believe that

marzens should have some sulphuriness (mainly from DMS) in the aroma and flavor much as light lagers do. In this case a 60 minute boil is appropriate, as less volatiles will evaporate. A shorter lagering also

help this.


Yeast and Fermentation:


1. Lager yeasts strongly recommended.


Wyeast: Bavarian (#2206), Munich (#2308), Czech Pils (#2278). Others such

as the Bohemian (#2124) are also acceptable.

White Labs: German (#WLP830), Pilsener (#WLP800)

BrewTek: Old Bavarian (#CL-650), East German (#CL-680), Original

Pilsener (#CL-600). Others such as the Swiss (#CL-670) are also


2. For those who can’t ferment cold enough ( 45 -55 ), some ale yeasts are also okay.

Wyeast: American (#1056), European (#1338), Kolsch (#2565).

White Labs: California (#WLP001), German (#WLP029).

BrewTek: American Microbrewery (#CL-10), Old German (#CL-400),

Kolsch (#CL-450).

3. California common beer ("steam beer") yeasts should also do well at ale temper-

atures as well.

Wyeast: California lager (#2112)

White Labs: San Francisco lager (#WLP810)

BrewTek: California Gold lager (#CL-690)

If fermenting below 55 F, especially below 50 F, or using certain yeasts (such at Wyeast #2308), a diacetyl rest is recommended. At the end of primary fermentation, raise the temperature above 55 F (sometimes above 60 F) for 1-3 days (shorter for higher temperatures), then lower slowly to lagering temperatures.

Note that low pitching rates and poor aeration increases lag time and decreases attenuation.

Updated: May 28, 1999.