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Old 02-28-2011, 12:49 AM   #1
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Default Märzen advice needed

Hi all, I'm new to the homebrew hobby. In fact, my first batch is still in a fermenter, slowly bubbling away in a quiet, dimly lit spot underneath my desk. To make a long story short, I cannibalized my old college fridge yesterday in hopes of brewing a Märzen sometime next week. It is March, after all.

I could just buy a kit from my home brew store, but I want to feel like I'm brewing, and not like I'm having my hand held by an instruction sheet. To that end, I found a Märzen recipe from a home brew book that I'm thinking of tweaking:

7 lbs light plain malt extract
.5 lbs dark amber crystal malt
1/2 cup chocolate malt
1.25 oz Hallertauer hops - bittering
.25 oz Hallertauer hops - aroma
lager yeast

(Obviously, I'm extract brewing as I haven't got all the equipment together to go all grain, and if I spend any more money or accumulate another piece of equipment any time soon my girlfriend might kill me.)

The biggest problem I have with the recipe is the hops. My local store only has Hallertauer in pellets. Will the little hops-pieces mess up the flavor profile during the lagering process? I'm looking for a very malt-forward traditional Oktoberfest, but the closest real hop bud I can get is Saaz.

Also, I've heard a lot of different opinions on fermenting and lagering temps. Is there any consensus on the best methods/temperatures? If not, what's your opinion and why?

Finally, I realize I am aging the beer, but I don't really want to wait until October to crack open this brew. At what point does lagering cease to increase the quality of the final product?

Thanks in advance for any advice!

PS - Can anyone recommend a good temperature control system for my minifridge? At the moment, all I have is an analog freezer/refrigerator thermometer and I'm getting a feel for what temperatures the numbers on my fridge thermostat correspond to.

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Old 02-28-2011, 12:54 AM   #2
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Welcome to the crazy obsession!

I'm not sure what you mean about the hallertauer- I'd recommend using that for the Marzen. Pellets are fine, and often preferred.

I'm not really crazy about the recipe you posted- I like my Marzens to be lighter colored and can't see using chocolate malt in it.

I think lagers are best when fermented at the low range of the yeast strain's optimum temperature, so the temperature really depends on the yeast strain. A 50 degree pitching and fermenting temperature is usually very good for all lagers. Make sure you make a BIG yeast starter, or pitch about three vials, of yeast.

My favorite way to lager is colder, longer. What I mean by that is "lagering" is a bit faster at 40 degrees, but I like a longer lagering period at near-freezing temperatures. I like to lager at 34 degrees for every 8-10 points of OG. So, for a 1.060 OG lager, I'd lager 6-8 weeks. I don't think there would be much of an advantage for longer. The goal of lagering is to have any hops polyphenols drop out, for a "cleaner" and "smoother" and even crisper lager. That can happen in a relatively short period of time, but you could easily go as long as 10-12 weeks if you want.

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Old 03-02-2011, 02:15 AM   #3
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Apparently, traditional Märzens weren't so light. They were kind of red in color. I thought it was strange that there was chocolate malt in it until I read this old article on it:

http://byo.com/component/resource/ar...e-of-the-month

So now the question becomes traditional or modern Märzen? Has anyone even had a 'traditional' style from a commercial brewery or favor one style over another in their own brewing?

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