Nick Carr on October 3, 2016 7 Comments Quick Characteristics Brewery Spaten-Franziskaner Bräu Location Munich, Germany Style Märzen (Ur Marzën) ABV 5.9% IBU 23 Hops ? Malts ? Shelf Life 3 to 6 months Suggested Glass Stein or Mug Serving Temp 46-48°F Availability Year Round Food Pairings Boiled Sausages With Red Cabbage, Bavarian Pretzel, Roomano Cheese, Cinnamon Apple Strudel No brewery has deeper ties to Oktoberfest than Spaten-Franziskaner Bräu. So, it seems only fitting, that as we enter into the first week of October and celebrations rev up in Munich, I should review the Ur Marzën, the “Original Marzën.” Spaten’s history goes all the way back to the late 1300s and a brewer named Hans Welser. The brewery would frequently change hands for 225 long years before the Spatt family acquired it. They would own the brewery for some 80 years before another family would take it over but retain the Spaten name, which indecently means spade in German — thus the silver malt shovel on the label. Then, in 1817, Gabriel Sedlmayr bought the brewery. It was Gabriel’s son, Gabriel II, who created what we know as the modern Marzën / Oktoberfest style. In 1872, he released this light amber lager after experimentations with a new English kilning process produced the lightly kilned malt we now know as Munich. By this time, the Oktoberfest had been a yearly celebration for about 60 years. There are varying stories about why exactly Gabriel’s new amber colored “original Marzën” ended up taking the place of the older darker March beers in the festivities. Shop Spaten Beer on Amazon Possibly, it was an effort to compete with the pale lagers becoming popular in Europe, or maybe it just seemed the perfect venue to get his new beer out into the world. There’s even a story of how that year’s Oktoberfest ran low on beer and Gabriel came to the rescue. It’s a good story, and as with much of history, it’s probably some combination of all of the above that put Spaten’s Oktoberfest on the meadow that year. The Spaten Oktoberfest retains the “Ur Marzën” label to this day. But, wait! Don’t go running off all gung-ho, thinking you’ll get a chance to drink the authentic original Marzën style at this years Oktoberfest celebration in Munich. Sorry to say, but this beer won’t make the meadow, and hasn’t in about 15 years. The only beer style served at any of the Oktoberfest tents these days is examples of the modern, and much lighter, Festbier. So, if you do go to Munich: first, I’m jealous; second, be sure to visit the brewery or a beer hall and taste this beer in its city of origin. THE TASTING Below are the tasting notes I took while drinking Spaten Oktoberfest. If you’ve tasted this beer or you’re drinking one now as you read this review, please share your thoughts or tasting notes with everyone down in the comments below. Pour and Aroma: Spaten Oktoberfest is a nice burnished bronze color in the glass. Clarity is superb and you can see all the way through its liquid depths. Medium-low amounts of carbonation coming off the bottom. A single finger of off-white small bubbled head forms off the pour, but quickly disappears. The aroma, and I smelled it as soon as I started pouring, has a bit of skunkiness to it, due to the green bottle. It’s not as bad as a Heinken, but it’s there none-the-less, and it makes it hard to find the other aromas the beer might offer up. Underneath there’s some sweet-graininess, light toast and nuttiness, a splash of apple-like fruitness, hints of caramel. Some grassy hop aroma. Mouthfeel and Taste: Body is a low-medium, slightly watery, not really showing much of the fullness you’d expect from a Marzen. Carbonation is slightly higher than visual cues let on, creating a slight quickness on the palate. No warmth, but light bitterness. Sweet graininess at the front. Very subtle signs of bread, toast, and caramel. No evidence of the 5.7% ABV at all. Has a touch of grassy hop flavor, and bitterness is a medium-low with just enough bite to keep things from getting completely dull. Finish is very crisp. Some light toast and caramel rise up in the aftertaste along with residual grainy sweetness. FINISHING THOUGHTS When tasting any import I try not judge too harshly. I mean they’ve come a long way, probably under none-too-kind traveling circumstances. That being said… the green bottle is an easy fix. Come on guys. I’m not sure why many European breweries continue to use green bottles. Tradition, I suppose… It’s become part of the signature, as has, in some cases the skunkiness. That’s right I’m looking at you Heineken. This is another decent Oktoberfest Marzen, once you make it past the slight skunkiness. It is easy drinking with some nice sweetness, but the malt complexity is a little too mellow. There’s adequate bittering hops to even the keel just enough. If you happen to be somewhere that has this on tap, definitely chose it over the bottle. It’ll probably taste more authentic. It won’t be one of my go-to Marzëns. Both Sierra Nevada and Spoetzl Brewery offer up fresher examples that will likely quench your urge for the style. But then, I wonder how different Spaten Oktoberfest could be without all the travel, back in its home city where you can taste it as the original brewers intended. I’m betting that’s a much different beer, and one to remember. Anyone want to travel to Munich with me? Cheers!