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Beer culture is coming of age. At any store, restaurant, bar, or friend's house you can now find at least a few good brews. In fact, there seem to be so many new beers, breweries and bars it's difficult to separate the good, the bad, and the mediocre.

If you're going spend $10 on one beer, what should you buy? If you're going to drive 2 hours to check out a brewery, what's worth your time? If you're going to plan a Friday night, what has a good selection and friendly atmosphere? We're here to help you answer these questions.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Fest Marzen and the Road Back to Tradition

 Fest Marzen is a Marzen or Oktoberfest beer by the Sudwerk Brewery of Davis, CA. Marzens (March in German) are named for the beers brewed at the end of the typical brewing season in March. After March it was too hot to brew. The Marzens, which are lagers, would ferment until the fall when they were served at the Oktoberfest festivities.

The Fest Marzen is a seasonal beer by Sudwerk's and is a higher ABV take on the year-round Marzen.

I bought this at Nugget Market in Davis. It has an ABV of 7.5%.

The beer pours a bright copper red with no head or lacings. The aroma is subtle with notes of the pilsner malts, caramel, and some esters or fruitiness. The taste is a clean blend of pilsner and caramel malts, balanced with mild European hops. The body is light to medium with a medium level of carbonation. The mouthfeel is smooth, crisp and refreshing.

Overall, I really like this beer. This has great drinkability for a higher ABV beer.I've tried a good deal of Oktoberfest/Marzen beers and this one strikes a nice balance between the pilsner and caramel malts.  For example, Gordon Biersch's Marzen is a little more maltier than I prefer, almost like a dopplebock. Paulener's sticks to much to the Pilsner malts and so doesn't quite distinguish itself enough from a regular pislner. This is a Must Have It.

In the wild world that is craft brewing, many brewers and drinkers are looking for the big new flavors. Whether it's big hops, funky Belgians, fruits, and off the wall ingredients, we're living in a time with the most variety of beers with the most variety of ingredients. This is awesome. You can spend your whole life tasting non-traditional beers.

But one thing to keep in mind, is that the beers that use traditional UK and German ingredients and techniques were perfected over hundreds of years. Weistephaner brewery has been brewing at its site for 1,000 years. There flavors might not be big or bold, but they are clean, crisp, refreshing and easy to drink.

It's hard to rate traditional beers and non-traditional beers. In non-traditional beers I look for the balance of the odd ingredients and how well they work together. Drinkability is important, but many of these non traditional beers are not aiming for drinkability, just flavor.

In traditional beers I look for drinkability. It's easy to find a Pilsner or Pale Ale that use the same ingredients in various combinations, so I rate these more on drinkability than flavor. Which of these traditional beers would I go back for and drink a lot of? In the case of the Marzen, Fest Marzen is my choice.

I'm not sure when, but I think there will be a peak of the use of non-traditional ingredients followed by a move back to the brewing techniques that are employed by the Europeans and their descendants like Sudwerk.

1 comment:

  1. Wisdom, so rarely spoken these days. The Lager is waiting. 1000 years of tradition and beauty cannot be denied.