Marzen Recipe Tweak

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snarf7

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I brewed what I thought was an excellent Marzen last year that I entered in a competition. It scored a 40 so I guess I'm not completely crazy. ;) The biggest thing I got dinged on was that it lacked the right amount of bready toasted maltiness (I'm paraphrasing but you get the idea). And I can't say I disagree with them, it's a delicious beer but I think it could be even better with more of that malt coming thru.

My grain bill is more or less 50/50 Vienna and Munich with a dash of crystal and pinch of chocolate malt for color. I don't think more crystal is going to help this, I think that will just make it too sweet and caramel like. So what to add to bring some toasted bread to this beer? Biscuit Malt? Special B? Victory? Maybe a darker variety of Munich Malt would kick it up a bit? I thought maybe a little wheat too but I'm reticent to add anything that might cloud that beautiful clear amber color I've got going on. What have you tried that worked for you in this respect?

Here's the BJCP description:

Initial malt flavor often suggests sweetness, but finish is moderately-dry to dry. Distinctive and complex maltiness often includes a bready, toasty aspect. Hop bitterness is moderate, and the hop flavor is low to none (German types: complex, floral, herbal, or spicy). Hops provide sufficient balance that the malty palate and finish do not seem sweet. The aftertaste is malty, with the same elegant, rich malt flavors lingering. Noticeable caramel, biscuit, or roasted flavors are inappropriate. Clean lager fermentation profile.

thanks guys
 

Jag75

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You could try using victory . My Oktoberfest is just like yours . Pilsner , munich and crystal 40. Been lagering since April and just tested some the other day at my LHBS . Consensus from the owners is that it's an excellent Oktoberfest. Isnt a 40 a really good score? I've never submitted my beers so I dont know how it works .

It's not supposed to have flavors of biscuit, caramel or roasty flavors . Low to no hop flavor . Maybe it was the chocolate malt throwing in something off to them. you should get a complex bready toast flavor
 
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MrPowers

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Instead of changing up anything as far as the recipe goes, try using the Weyermann Barke Vienna and Barke Munich malts for the base. They are a step above the standard varieties in terms of flavor!
 
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snarf7

snarf7

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You could try using victory . My Oktoberfest is just like yours . Pilsner , munich and crystal 40. Been lagering since April and just tested some the other day at my LHBS . Consensus from the owners is that it's an excellent Oktoberfest. Isnt a 40 a really good score? I've never submitted my beers so I dont know how it works .
40 is a really good score! The description of the 38-44 range is:

Excellent: Exemplifies style well, requires minor fine-tuning.

So I'm just trying to hone that fine tuning part and see if I get to the next rung. Don't get me wrong I was thrilled with it already but after reading their comments and tasting it again I could see their point, it doesn't quite reflect the style like some of the excellent examples I tried in Germany.

I haven't used Victory much have you?
 

JimRausch

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Yes, I'd be real happy with a 40. A 40 will generally win a category, or at least get a place. What did the winner in your category get?
But we are always trying to make them a little better, aren't we?
 
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snarf7

snarf7

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Instead of changing up anything as far as the recipe goes, try using the Weyermann Barke Vienna and Barke Munich malts for the base. They are a step above the standard varieties in terms of flavor!
Hmmm, not a bad idea man...The Germans are notorious for their meticulousness, it could well be a simple detail like that. Definitely worth a shot!
 

JimRausch

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it doesn't quite reflect the style like some of the excellent examples I tried in Germany.
IMO, americam Marzens and german are two different species. Me, I tend to prefer a more malty American style, but that's just me.
 

Jag75

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I used it once . However that malt has slight roasty nutty and biscuit notes . Imo your beer looks and sounds great . The question is how do you get bready and toast notes instead of biscuit. I say congrats to your beer . I'm in agreement on trying to always better something. What was your hop addition? Victory is a good malt , I like it
 

JimRausch

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Although, I have to put in a caveat: I've only had bottled german marzens and fest beers. Here in the U.S. The real thing in a german beirgarten? I dream of an opportunity.
 

brewbama

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I recommend you brew the same recipe (with the Premium malts if desired) and send it to several competitions (if that’s what you’re into) to get several feedback data points before making additional changes. One competition does not make a trend. If you get similar comments across several competitions then you have a trend to adjust to.
 
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snarf7

snarf7

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I recommend you brew the same recipe (with the Premium malts if desired) and send it to several competitions (if that’s what you’re into) to get several feedback data points before making additional changes. One competition does not make a trend. If you get similar comments across several competitions then you have a trend to adjust to.
Good point. Doesn't make any sense to blow up the recipe when it already turned out great...maybe just use the premium malts and if I add anything new, make it a small, subtle addition
 

Cavpilot2000

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Number 1, I agree that 40 is a very good score and if you like the beer, leave it as-is

BUT, if you are willing to re-work it for more authenticity, I'd suggest the following:

1: I second the use of Barke Munich. It's around 8*L, so a good compromise between Munich I and Munich II and has great flavor.

2: If you are going for authentic German Marzen and not the over caramelly americanized versions like Sam Adams Oktoberfest (still a good beer, but decidedly American), stick to German malts. Which means stay away from Victory and Biscuit. They're good malts but aren't authentic and don't belong. Similarly, don't use chocolate malt, use Carafa. Use German caramalts. By saying you are using VIenna and Munich (hopefully German brands of those) with Crystal and chocolate (presumably american or british), it's like saying you are trying to build a Ferarri using Toyota parts. You'll never truly get there. It may look the same to the uninitiated, but it's not an authentic Ferarri.

3: Ditch the Vienna, replace it with Pils malt, and increase the percentage of Munich. Like 75% Munich.
 
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snarf7

snarf7

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the chocolate malt is 40g for a 5 gallon batch, it's there for color in lieu of using crystal malts which would mess the flavor up...40g in a 10lb grain bill is not going to affect the taste in the slightest
 

Cavpilot2000

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At that low an amount, you're probably right. In my system though I get significant roast flavor from as little as 6 oz (170g) of Carafa II (similar to chocolate malt). Not just a little, but significant - enough to push a Munich Dunkel right out of proper flavor profile for being too roasty. But then again, I brew LOB (LODO), which manifests more intense flavors.

I still stand by using German malts and a higher % of Munich and drop Vienna for Pils.
 
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