Style Details

Amber Mal­ty Euro­pean Lager
BJCP Style Code
6 A
Amber-oran­ge to deep red­dish-cop­per color; should not be gol­den. Bright cla­ri­ty, with per­sis­tent, off-white foam stand.
Mode­ra­te inten­si­ty aro­ma of Ger­man malt, typi­cal­ly rich, brea­dy, some­what toasty, with light bread crust notes. Clean lager fer­men­ta­ti­on cha­rac­ter. No hop aro­ma. Cara­mel, dry-bis­cui­ty, or roas­ted malt aro­mas inap­pro­pria­te. Very light alco­hol might be detec­ted, but should never be sharp. Clean, ele­gant malt rich­ness should be the pri­ma­ry aroma.
Initi­al malt fla­vor often sug­gests sweet­ness, but finish is modera­te­ly-dry to dry. Distinc­ti­ve and com­plex mal­ti­ness often includes a brea­dy, toasty aspect. Hop bit­ter­ness is mode­ra­te, and the hop fla­vor is low to none (Ger­man types: com­plex, flo­ral, her­bal, or spi­cy). Hops pro­vi­de suf­fi­ci­ent balan­ce that the mal­ty pala­te and finish do not seem sweet. The after­tas­te is mal­ty, with the same ele­gant, rich malt fla­vors lin­ge­ring. Noti­ceable cara­mel, bis­cuit, or roas­ted fla­vors are inap­pro­pria­te. Clean lager fer­men­ta­ti­on profile.
Medi­um body, with a smooth, cre­a­my tex­tu­re that often sug­gests a ful­ler mouth­feel. Medi­um car­bo­na­ti­on. Ful­ly atte­nu­a­ted, wit­hout a sweet or cloy­ing impres­si­on. May be slight­ly warm­ing, but the strength should be rela­tively hidden.
Over­all Impression
An ele­gant, mal­ty Ger­man amber lager with a clean, rich, toasty and brea­dy malt fla­vor, res­trai­ned bit­ter­ness, and a dry finish that encou­ra­ges ano­ther drink. The over­all malt impres­si­on is soft, ele­gant, and com­plex, with a rich after­tas­te that is never cloy­ing or heavy. 
Typi­cal Ingredients
Grist varies, alt­hough tra­di­tio­nal Ger­man ver­si­ons empha­si­zed Munich malt. The noti­on of ele­gan­ce is deri­ved from the finest qua­li­ty ingre­di­ents, par­ti­cu­lar­ly the base malts. A decoc­tion mash was tra­di­tio­nal­ly used to deve­lop the rich malt profile.
As the name sug­gests, bre­wed as a stron­ger “March beer” in March and lage­red in cold caves over the sum­mer. Modern ver­si­ons trace back to the lager deve­lo­ped by Spa­ten in 1841, con­tem­po­ra­neous to the deve­lo­p­ment of Vien­na lager. Howe­ver, the Märzen name is much older than 1841; the ear­ly ones were dark brown, and in Aus­tria the name impli­ed a strength band (14 °P) rather than a style. The Ger­man amber lager ver­si­on (in the Vien­nese style of the time) was first ser­ved at Okto­ber­fest in 1872, a tra­di­ti­on that las­ted until 1990 when the gol­den Fest­bier was adopted as the stan­dard fes­ti­val beer. 
Modern dome­stic Ger­man Okto­ber­fest ver­si­ons are gol­den – see the Fest­bier style for this ver­si­on. Export Ger­man ver­si­ons (to the United Sta­tes, at least) are typi­cal­ly oran­ge-amber in color, have a distinc­ti­ve toasty malt cha­rac­ter, and are most often labe­led Okto­ber­fest. Ame­ri­can craft ver­si­ons of Okto­ber­fest are gene­ral­ly based on this style, and most Ame­ri­cans will reco­gni­ze this beer as Okto­ber­fest. His­to­ric ver­si­ons of the beer ten­ded to be dar­ker, towards the brown color ran­ge, but the­re have been many ‘shades’ of Märzen (when the name is used as a strength); this style descrip­ti­on spe­ci­fi­cal­ly refers to the stron­ger amber lager ver­si­on. The modern Fest­bier can be thought of as a pale Märzen by the­se terms.
Com­mer­cial Examples
Buer­ger­li­ches Ur-Saal­fel­der, Hacker-Pschorr Ori­gi­nal Okto­ber­fest, Pau­la­ner Okto­ber­fest, Wel­ten­burg Klos­ter Anno 1050
Ori­gi­nal Gravity
1.054 - 1.060 SG
Final Gra­vi­ty
1.010 - 1.014 SG
8 - 17 SRM
5.0 - 6.0 %vol
18 - 24 IBU