Wednesday, August 19, 2009
June 6, 2009: Paulaner Marzen
I once had a teacher who asked me to write about what I thought was the most significant invention or innovation of the last two hundred years. I can't remember exactly what I wrote about, but I'm sure I settled with one of the usual suspects like the printing press, the automobile or the telephone. Looking back on this assignment of highly questionable educational value, what I should have chosen was the invention of refrigeration. There are few modern conveniences that taken for granted like the fridge. It's become such a stalwart of the modern kitchen that most people reach into the refrigerator every day without ever thinking about what an amazing innovation it truly is. Before the refrigerator was invented, preserving food was a veritable crap shoot. People had to use ice boxes or even root cellars to try to keep their food from rotting. Like any food made from natural ingredients, beer will eventually spoil if it is not properly refrigerated. This simple law of nature made brewing beer in the summer almost impossible in the summer for centuries. In Germany, March was the last month in which beer could safely be brewed, so most breweries produced copious amounts beer in the spring before the summer heat made it impossible to preserve. These were the very same beers that our friends Hans, Fritz and Klaus would enjoy every year during Oktoberfest, which today is equivalent to the beer lover's olympic games.
Paulaner Marzen is a beer brewed in the same tradition as these beers that existed before the advent of the refrigerator. Marzens were brewed to be rich and hearty beers that were capable of being stored for long periods of time while still retaining their taste. While I can only guess as to what a true marzen that was brewed before the creation of refrigeration might taste like, I'd like to believe that Paulaner Marzen is pretty close to being the real McCoy. Paulaner Marzen pours a deep golden amber color with an off white head that sticks around for a little while, but not long enough. Paulaner Marzen has a very mild, wheaty flavor that is complimented by the understated accent of floral hops, caramel malts and a general sweetness that seems to permeate this brew. Overall, I'd say that Paualner Marzen is a decent example of what an Oktoberfest beer should be, but there are certainly a handful of others that I would pick before it. Paulaner Marzen is a seasonal beer, so look for it in the springtime and enjoy!