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Marzen 2017 - Gordon Biersch Sorta • Bayou Beer

Marzen 2017 – Gordon Biersch Sorta

August 12th, 2017

So we’re brewing Oktoberfest/Marzen.   Probably one of my absolute favorite beers that I’ve never brewed exceptional.    So I’ve really put some work in to this one.  My past attempts were always too high on toasted maltiness and not smooth enough.   The malt complexity was also never there.   So I am trying a few things today.  1.  Adding some purified water to drop my 174ppm sodium down under 100.   I’ve always thought too much sodium simplifies the maltiness of beer.   2.   Perform a single decoction to enhance melanoidin richness.  3.  Using a recipe that doesn’t call for so much Munich 20 or higher.  It should be on the bottom end of the Marzen spectrum rather than the middle which is what I typically brewed in the past and didn’t like.

This is sorta the recipe because come brew day I realize my Hallertau is only 2.5% AA so I had some Saaz to balance that.  And lengthen the hop boil to 90 minutes.

Lagers as it turns out are my favorite sort of beer.   With the exception of doing a doppelbock well in the past I’ve yet to brew one that’ll win at competitions.   35-39 pretty consistently but nothing with that extra special something yet.   Here’s hoping this year is the year I get it right.   We shall see.

Update 8/13/2017

Brew day went well. The decoction wasn’t near the trouble I thought it’d be with what I’ve read. Gravity came in high though and some equipment problems with a clogged pump near the boiling point made the boil a little strange. All in all the beer should come out fine. Some how, some way some old hops ended up in the beer so I’m worried about off flavors but we’ll see. Wort smells great, tastes great so cooling to pitching temperature overnight, re-racking off settled trub and pitching in the morning.

I’ve read some brulosophy and other experiments that say people can’t detect the decoction. I’m amazed at that given the aroma of the boiling decoction. It was strongly aromatic. I start to wonder about some of those experiments. They almost always seem to point at people being unable to detect anything about a beer in a triangle test unless it’s blatantly obvious. I wonder if the very nature of triangle tests throws people off enough that they can’t perform?

Update 9/5/2017
Original gravity which I forgot to note was 1.063. Final gravity was around 1.015 which although slightly high for style is expected because of the high original gravity. It’s quite malty and bready in the nose and in the flavor. Very complex. The hops are enough to balance the beer but I had preconceived notions of it being sweet so I think I find it sweet. It’s not yet carbonated to style so I need to give it more time before judging. However the beer is very good. The yeast character, the nose, the rich malt character. Gonna be a great drinking beer for the Fall months.

Update 9/27/2017
Now that it’s well carbonated and clear it’s got a really nice drinkability. Not dry enough but not so sweet that I can’t drink 3 of it in one sitting, which is my primary test on a beer. It’s deep in color for that Amber Marzen type of beer. Too much so for my overall appreciation of this style. On the next go I intend to adjust the pilsner to munich ratio by about 10% and drop the caramunich to only about 6 ounces per 10 gallons. I think the crispness was off by the higher gravity which hopefully I’ll get closer next time. But this is a good lager with German lager character, deep maltiness and a very fun, drinkable Fall beer.

Update 10/6/2017
I’ve picked up a few authentic seasonals to compare it to. Hacker-Pschorr Oktoberfest and Ayinger Oktoberfest are very similar to this beer. A little more crisp than mine but very similar indeed. Remarkably close to the Ayinger but with a less sweet nose than Ayinger and not as clean probably due to the higher than desired finishing gravity of mine and the lower bitterness.
Update 10/24/2017
In an unexpected twist this beer is surprisingly clear now and about 3-4 SRM lighter in color. It’s professionally clear and barely amber in color. It’s like whatever was still in solution that fell out was all amber in color. To the point that I’m wondering if I’ll get dinged at Dixie Cup, it’ll be because they question whether it’s a festbier. The impression of sweetness has lessened and the melanoidin flavor has increased in that munich sort of fashion. I’m kind of stunned on how this beer has changed. I think I took a picture weeks ago and can get one now to post. Hopefully I remember to do so. As it sits I would still lessen the gravity on this beer(I went to high) but man, it is a great Oktoberfest. Better than many I’ve had from pro brewers.

Recipe Details

Batch Size Boil Time IBU SRM Est. OG Est. FG ABV
11 gal 60 min 20.1 IBUs 7.9 SRM 1.057 1.014 5.6 %

Style Details

Name Cat. OG Range FG Range IBU SRM Carb ABV
Marzen 6 A 1.054 - 1.06 1.01 - 1.014 18 - 24 8 - 17 2.5 - 3 5.8 - 6.3 %


Name Amount %
Pilsner (Weyermann) 13 lbs 55.08
Munich (BestMälz) 10 lbs 42.37
Caramunich I (Weyermann) 9.6 oz 2.54


Name Amount Time Use Form Alpha %
Hallertauer Mittelfrueh 2 oz 90 min Boil Pellet 2.6
Saaz 1.5 oz 90 min Boil Pellet 3
Hallertauer Mittelfrueh 1 oz 10 min Boil Pellet 4


Name Amount Time Use Type
Calcium Chloride 9.00 g 60 min Mash Water Agent
Lactic Acid 8.00 ml 60 min Mash Water Agent
Gypsum (Calcium Sulfate) 6.00 g 60 min Mash Water Agent


Name Lab Attenuation Temperature
German Lager (WLP830) White Labs 77% 50°F - 55°F


Step Temperature Time
Protein Rest 122°F 35 min
Saccharification 154°F 45 min
Mash Out 168°F 10 min

Bayou Beer

All about beer brewing and drinking in South Louisiana.