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True Marzen Colour Without Crystal?

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iralosavic

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I've just read what Michael Jackson has to say about what composes "the original example of a Marzenbier": "1.052-1.055, 5%+ABV, reddish colour of 33, and a mere 21 units of bitterness."

I cannot figure out how to get such a red colour without adding some crystal malt, but my research reveals that crystal was not traditionally present in this style. As Jackson puts it, this is a style that has suffered considerable erosion of character over the years; many modern interpretations are paler and less complex; they may be pilsner grain dominant, of higher bitterness (25-30IBU), and present notable hop flavour and aroma.

I really want to give replicating the original style a go, but how those Muncheners achieved it beats me!
 

amiddler

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Decoction to caramelize some of the sugar?? I have not read any of the style guidelines, just saying.
 

eamonnfoley

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Large amounts of vienna malt will do it, and I think that is traditional as the maerzen is related to the Vienna lager.
 

iralosavic

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Large amounts of vienna malt will do it, and I think that is traditional as the maerzen is related to the Vienna lager.
My instinct was to use a higher percentage of Vienna, but Brewmate does not output a high enough EBC even at 100%, so it leaves me confused.
 

mahonya1

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My instinct was to use a higher percentage of Vienna, but Brewmate does not output a high enough EBC even at 100%, so it leaves me confused.

Use a load of Munich II Malt
 

argon

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From the guidelines;

I'd go Munich II and decoction

Ingredients: Grist varies, although German Vienna malt is often the backbone of the grain bill, with some Munich malt, Pils malt, and possibly some crystal malt. All malt should derive from the finest quality two-row barley. Continental hops, especially noble varieties, are most authentic. Somewhat alkaline water (up to 300 PPM), with significant carbonate content is welcome. A decoction mash can help develop the rich malt profile
.
 

iralosavic

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From the guidelines;

I'd go Munich II and decoction

.
Grist wise, I'd go with a blend of vienna, munich II and possibly pilsner (in that order), but without crystal, I'm not getting anywhere near 33EBC. Perhaps decoction with some inherent caramelisation will deepen the colour that significantly? I have no experience with decocting as I BIAB, but there's nothing stopping me carrying some runnings to the stovetop if I have to.
 

jyo

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I have a Vienna lager planned so watching this thread with interest. I am planning to try a small addition of carafa I for some extra colour but what about toasting some vienna or munich in the oven to darken it up a bit?

Thoughts?
 

iralosavic

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I have a Vienna lager planned so watching this thread with interest. I am planning to try a small addition of carafa I for some extra colour but what about toasting some vienna or munich in the oven to darken it up a bit?

Thoughts?

I think carafa is a good choice to darken a vienna lager. You've got better control/predictability than toasting your own malt. This is another style that you see adulterated with crystal. Quite a few commercial examples I've tasted were far too caramel/toffee to be authentic... I'd go so far as to say they were cloying, given the palate's expectation for only a mild/complex sweetness that is soon forgotten by a dry finish. I have found it difficult to finish some bottles because of this. Thanks to some of the restrictions on the commercial labeling of the Marzen/Oktoberfest style, most (if not all) German brewed examples are predictable and delicious.
 

Online Brewing Supplies

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I have a Vienna lager planned so watching this thread with interest. I am planning to try a small addition of carafa I for some extra colour but what about toasting some vienna or munich in the oven to darken it up a bit?

Thoughts?
Try mine next visit and I will let you have the recipe if you like it.
Nev
 

jyo

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I think carafa is a good choice to darken a vienna lager. You've got better control/predictability than toasting your own malt. This is another style that you see adulterated with crystal. Quite a few commercial examples I've tasted were far too caramel/toffee to be authentic... I'd go so far as to say they were cloying, given the palate's expectation for only a mild/complex sweetness that is soon forgotten by a dry finish. I have found it difficult to finish some bottles because of this. Thanks to some of the restrictions on the commercial labeling of the Marzen/Oktoberfest style, most (if not all) German brewed examples are predictable and delicious.
Cheers, mate.


Try mine next visit and I will let you have the recipe if you like it.
Nev
Sounds good, Nev.
 

geoffd

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I dont think crystal malts are appropriate to style. I dont think a Marzen should be as red as a vienna either. The commercial examples make it very confusing, I made a Marzen similar to the HB & Paulener versions & it went very poorly in comp for being too pale, yet both are listed examples.


from the AABC guidelines:Comments:

Domestic German versions tend to be golden, like a strong Pils-dominated Helles. Export German versions are typically orange-amber in colour, and have a distinctive toasty malt character.


In rectification I went for the export version this is the recipe that won Baysides Octoberfest Comp. Came out a decent coppery colour, sorry tasting notes are blank, I've gotten lazy. the melanoidin & victory malt added good colour without any lingering sweetness, just richness

Capture.JPG
 

manticle

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Fix and Fix suggest both light and dark German crystal is entirely appropriate for the style . They also suggest that the quality of some Vienna and munich malts is made from inferior malted barley, even from companies that make superior quality two row pilsner.

This was in 1991 so who knows what has changed in malting quality now? Whether the crystals were considered 'replacements' for munich or vienna, I'm not sure but some of their discussion seems to indicate this. I find wey vienna and munich to be great and this is what I would use. JW not so much.

They also suggest Vienna lager was a scaled down relative (even version) of the Barvarian festbiers (marzen/oktoberfest).

One version of vienna they list in the book (based on the development of Vienna lager in mexico) has a small portion of black/roast malt added 45 minutes into the sacch rest and rested for 15 minutes.
 

iralosavic

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I dont think crystal malts are appropriate to style. I dont think a Marzen should be as red as a vienna either. The commercial examples make it very confusing, I made a Marzen similar to the HB & Paulener versions & it went very poorly in comp for being too pale, yet both are listed examples.


from the AABC guidelines:Comments:

Domestic German versions tend to be golden, like a strong Pils-dominated Helles. Export German versions are typically orange-amber in colour, and have a distinctive toasty malt character.


In rectification I went for the export version this is the recipe that won Baysides Octoberfest Comp. Came out a decent coppery colour, sorry tasting notes are blank, I've gotten lazy. the melanoidin & victory malt added good colour without any lingering sweetness, just richness

View attachment 53497
Thanks for sharing your recipe, mate - and well done! Like MJ says, Marzen is a style that has undergone some mutation over time, even within Germany itself. Their alcohol strength to style regulations have been responsible for segregating many styles and can be viewed as both a good thing (introducing more variety) and a bad thing (original styles losing authenticity or availability).

The style I enjoy the most is the Export version, like you describe and like you can still find from Paulaner, Hofbrau and Lowenbrau to a lesser extent. I find them to be a perfect balance between complexity and dryness/sessionability.

Just wondering, what is your view on the style benefiting from moderate to highly alkaline water (~300ppm)? I see you did use some chalk, although your total effective alkalinity (not including acidulated malt) would be ~100ppm or less at a guess.



Cheers
 

iralosavic

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Fix and Fix suggest both light and dark German crystal is entirely appropriate for the style . They also suggest that the quality of some Vienna and munich malts is made from inferior malted barley, even from companies that make superior quality two row pilsner.

This was in 1991 so who knows what has changed in malting quality now? Whether the crystals were considered 'replacements' for munich or vienna, I'm not sure but some of their discussion seems to indicate this. I find wey vienna and munich to be great and this is what I would use. JW not so much.

They also suggest Vienna lager was a scaled down relative (even version) of the Barvarian festbiers (marzen/oktoberfest).

One version of vienna they list in the book (based on the development of Vienna lager in mexico) has a small portion of black/roast malt added 45 minutes into the sacch rest and rested for 15 minutes.
There seems to be a bit of a divided mind on the crystal front. I think the most important thing is that there should be very little or no flavours imparted by the crystal. It should be used for depth/richness/colour only. Too many breweries have butchered Vienna Lagers/Marzens with excessive crystal, making them imbalanced and too sweet to enjoy as a lager should be - in sessionable quantities!
 

MHB

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Vienna 85% and Melanoidin 15% would get you there, Kunze suggests 5-25% as a working range so should be fine and probably more like the traditional Marzen you are looking for I suspect that the older versions of Vienna were a bit darker than todays offerings. As mentioned above a triple decoction is going to add a bit of colour.
Mark
 

geoffd

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Just wondering, what is your view on the style benefiting from moderate to highly alkaline water (~300ppm)? I see you did use some chalk, although your total effective alkalinity (not including acidulated malt) would be ~100ppm or less at a guess.

Cheers

I used salts in this recipe purely for calcium, used carbonate with chloride not to have too much chloride. picked calcium carbonate over calcium sulphate as it's a malt driven beer, carbonate accentuates malt, sulphate accentuates hops (you probably knew that so sorry if I'm being too simplistic with you)

I could also have split over CaCl, CaCo3 & CaSO4 to minimise all the salt impacts & get reasonable calcium.
I guessed the Ph adjustment with the ammount of acidulated malt, overshot it just a fraction & rectified by diluting.

I'm not a big fan of being sytlistically accurate with german water as it's heavily mineralised & takes away from the drinkability of the beer, Dortmunder being a good example, try a DAB next to a Polish Brok similar beer styles, you'll probably notice the Brok is a lot smoother & rounder malty flavour, I prefer this over being stylistically accurate.

This is also why I dont bother to make german pils, why waste a brew day on a mineralised sharper beer when you can make a Brok or a rich but soft Czech pilsner (lots of vienna as opposed to the pils dominated versions)
Thats just what I do, some people will prefer the drier crisp finish in the minerally water.
 

RdeVjun

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Grist wise, I'd go with a blend of vienna, munich II and possibly pilsner (in that order), but without crystal, I'm not getting anywhere near 33EBC. Perhaps decoction with some inherent caramelisation will deepen the colour that significantly? I have no experience with decocting as I BIAB, but there's nothing stopping me carrying some runnings to the stovetop if I have to.
Yes, decoction will indeed add colour, couldn't tell you how much per step or at what rate, while everyone seems to do it just a little bit differently! Give it a go is my advice, that grain looks all right to start trying it, maybe even drop it to two or even one base malt. FWIW, I do a 100% FM BPils Munich Helles which has done very well at State comp level two years running, I realise Vienna Lager is just a little bit more complex due to this colour issue but the point is 100% base malt and decoction has rocked my world, for you might be worthwhile with 100% Vienna or even Munich II.
BIAB and decoction go together just as well as other methods, however I've found it is worthwhile leaving a goodly bit of room for extra boiling water infusion(s) to adjust temperature after each step, so mash in much thicker than you normally would for stock BIAB, particularly if your kettle is usually full at mashing and you'll appreciate that extra head room.
 

iralosavic

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I used salts in this recipe purely for calcium, used carbonate with chloride not to have too much chloride. picked calcium carbonate over calcium sulphate as it's a malt driven beer, carbonate accentuates malt, sulphate accentuates hops (you probably knew that so sorry if I'm being too simplistic with you)

I could also have split over CaCl, CaCo3 & CaSO4 to minimise all the salt impacts & get reasonable calcium.
I guessed the Ph adjustment with the ammount of acidulated malt, overshot it just a fraction & rectified by diluting.

I'm not a big fan of being sytlistically accurate with german water as it's heavily mineralised & takes away from the drinkability of the beer, Dortmunder being a good example, try a DAB next to a Polish Brok similar beer styles, you'll probably notice the Brok is a lot smoother & rounder malty flavour, I prefer this over being stylistically accurate.

This is also why I dont bother to make german pils, why waste a brew day on a mineralised sharper beer when you can make a Brok or a rich but soft Czech pilsner (lots of vienna as opposed to the pils dominated versions)
Thats just what I do, some people will prefer the drier crisp finish in the minerally water.
Thanks for explaining. I actually really like DAB, but I've never tried a true Pol Brok - what is a good example of the style available locally?
 

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