Oktoberfest Beer Showcase | Bierstadt Lagerhaus Oktoberfest Märzen
In a year when longstanding traditions have been upended by the unconventional, a Denver brewery is aiming to preserve one of beer’s most time-honored rituals. Bierstadt Lagerhaus in Denver, CO, which has been celebrated since its inception for its unwavering dedication to brewing traditional Lagers, is set to release their vaunted Oktoberfest Märzen Lager. This weekend’s release will coincide with the date that the 210-year-old Oktoberfest festival in Munich was originally scheduled to kick-off before being canceled as a result of the pandemic.
In recent years the Märzen style has grown in popularity among beer fans, causing it to succumb to a similar form of seasonal creep that has pushed pumpkin beers to debut in July and now Märzens to begin appearing on shelves in August. However, for Bierstadt co-founders Ashleigh Carter and Bill Eye, releasing their iconic Oktoberfest Lager in accordance with its namesake festival speaks to the authenticity of their beer and its deep historic roots.
“If you’re going to make a beer that harkens back to a great culture, why release it August 1st?” said Eye. “You’re overlooking something important by trying to sell an Oktoberfest early, and while the festival itself was canceled this year in Munich, we’ll still hold on to that tradition by releasing our Märzen on September 19th.”
Bierstadt’s Märzen recipe was spearheaded by head brewer and co-founder Ashleigh Carter, who utilized a double decoction mash technique to build a distinctive malt-forward characteristic without imparting much sweetness resulting in a completely crisp finish. This methodology is much more labor-intensive and is accomplished by removing part of the mash, then boiling that portion to help further break down cell walls in the malt to assist in starch conversion before it’s returned to the main mash.
The result is an incredibly nuanced take on the Märzen style that perfectly captures the rich bready backbone that allows the malt to shine, while still finishing dry without any heavy residual sweetness. And while the term “crushable” is too often bandied around in describing Lagers, Carter puts it perfectly in describing their Märzen exclaiming, “Of course you’re gonna have another.”
Bierstadt Lagerhaus’ Oktoberfest Märzen is easily one of the best expressions of this style in the country. Carter and Eye acknowledge the difficult business decisions small to mid-sized breweries have been faced with amid the current pandemic landscape, coupled with the temptation of capturing a wider audience by releasing a Märzen in August. However, they remain resolute in paying homage to the Oktoberfest tradition in the only way they know how, by not cutting corners, and remaining true to the beer’s storied lineage.
In addition to Saturday’s release at the brewery, Bierstadt Lagerhaus’ Märzen Lager is available in 16oz four-packs this year and can already be found in select liquor stores across Denver.