October 14, 2013 by Prost Brewing
The official beer of Oktoberfest, Märzen, is named after the German word for March. This may seem strange at first, but with a deeper look into the origins of Märzen and its methods of production, Märzen Oktoberfest makes typical German sense. Märzen originated before modern refrigeration when beer was stored in underground caves and stone cellars that were often near ponds or bodies of water so ice from them could be used for cooling during the summer months. Beer that was brewed in too hot of weather or stored in the heat would spoil and turn sour.
Since Germans have always had to have ample beer to drink throughout the spring and summer, they decided to make a beer while it was still cool in the spring and then store this beer in the cool caves and stone cellars for spring, summer, and early fall drinking. The original Märzenbier, an ancestor to the modern day Märzen Oktoberfest, was therefore brewed in the month of March and then stored through to the fall, supplying Germans with beer all summer long. Much to the ancient brewers and drinker’s delight, this beer matured and improved as summer progressed so that by early fall the hop had mellowed and the malty character had increased making for a sweeter beer that satisfied the need for some sweet fall comfort.
After the fall harvest, however, room had to be made in the brewery’s casks for new beer that would be made with the freshly harvested grains and hops. Thus was born the Bavarian’s quintessential excuse for increasing their consumption of beer for a period in the fall. They simply had to in order to polish off any leftover summer beer to make room for the new brews. Thankfully, while beer is no longer stored in casks in caves and the original excuse for drinking Märzen in excess no longer is entirely valid, the tradition of increased fall drinking of one of Germany’s favorite brews lives on! Now instead of duty to one’s brewer, it is duty to oneself and one’s community to celebrate this tradition by drinking the Märzen Oktoberfest as the temperature drops and the leaves fall.
A Prost! to Märzen Oktoberfest!