Oktoberfestbier or Märzen-Oktoberfestbier

Pronunciation guide for English-speakers:
"Maer-tsen". Pronounce the "ae" in the first syllable like the "a" in "bad". Do NOT pronounce it like the planet Mars with an "en" at the end!

Märzen is the historic forerunner of the Oktoberfestbier. In the Middle Ages, brewers had a difficult time brewing good-tasting beers during the hot summer months when the brew could easily become infected with air-born bacteria. To have an ample supply of saleable beer on hand during the summer, brewers worked overtime in March to brew an extra strong and well-hopped beer that would keep for a long time. Märzen is German for March, so the beer came to be known for the month in which it was brewed.

In time, the March beer turned into an October beer. When the summer was over and it was safe to resume brewing again, the brewers needed to empty their kegs to make room for the new brews. That meant that Märzen had to be finished off in a hurry. Throw a little bit of merriment into the mix, and you've got an Oktoberfest with a Märzen beer party. Modern Märzen, like Oktoberfestbier, is always well-aged, usually for at least four to eight weeks. It is usually amber in color and has an alcohol content of 5 to 6.2%.

Related beer style:

Copyright © 2004, 2005, 2006 German Beer Institute. The German Beer Institute is supported by its commercial and not-for-profit members. To learn about membership, click here. To contact the German Beer Institute, click here or email info@germanbeerinstitute.com. This site is managed and maintained by Cerevisia Communications, consultants and publicists to the international beverage industry. For conditions, disclaimers, warranties, and our privacy policy, click here.

Back to Beer Styles