Thursday, 8 May 2014

Austrian Märzen 1868 - 2004

Another thromise fulfilled: stuff about the Austrian form of Märzen.

Weird things are sort of my thing. One of my weird things is with Anton Dreher. Not that I want his babies or anything sick like that. More a fascination with - and admiration for - the way he dragged Austrian brewing into the industrial. But has ended up a marginal figure through fickle fashion.

Who else, looking at that table of beer analyses in "Jahresbericht über die Leistungen der chemischen Technologie", would have been more excited over Schwechater Märzen than all the Oktoberfesbiers combined? Not that they were dull.

Chemistry periodicals are a great source of 19th-century beer analyses. Frustrating, too. The commercial-oriented gravity books of Truman and Whitbread by definition have to disclose the brewers. The chemistry mags are less open. And often vague about the type of beer being analysed. Irritating for an anal arsehole like me.

"That's not a proper Märzen." is an accusation I've heard thrown at the modern Austrian form. Too pale and too weak. Apart from irritating the flob out of me, that got me wondering: when did Austrian Märzen get paler and weaker.

I've no new information on the colour question. Strength? Maybe. I say maybe, because it's based on a single sample. Chemists weren't always that precise when it came to styles. But . . . it is clearly included for comparison purposes with Oktoberfestbiers.

That said, you can see a general trend in the gravity of Schwechat's Märzen: downwards.

Austrian Märzen 1868 - 2004
Year Brewer Beer package Acidity OG Plato OG FG ABV App. Atten-uation
1868 Schwechat Märzen draught 0.12 15.39 1062.7 1019.76 5.57 68.47%
1869 Schwechat Dreher's Beer draught 0.12 15.28 1062.2 1019.76 5.54 68.22%
1869 Liesing Liesing Beer draught 0.12 15.16 1061.7 1019.11 5.56 69.01%
1870 Schellenhof Märzen 0.14 13.83 1056.0 1021.5 4.45 60.30%
1870 Schwechat Märzen 0.14 13.54 1054.7 1016.9 4.90 67.95%
1870 St. Mark Märzen 0.11 13.80 1055.8 1019.2 4.74 64.35%
1870 Brunn Märzen 0.19 14.89 1060.5 1016.7 5.69 71.19%
1898 Schwechat Märzenbier bottled 14.60 1059.3 1018.1 5.34 69.45%
1901 Schwechat Märzenbier draught 0.14 12.75 1051.4 1015.6 4.53 68.66%
2004 Baumgartner Märzen 12.30 1049.5 1010.3 5.10 78.37%
2004 Eggenberg Märzen 12.20 1049.1 1011.4 4.90 75.98%
2004 Hofstetten Märzen 11.50 1046.1 1009.9 4.70 77.65%
2004 Kaltenhausen Märzen 11.60 1046.5 1008.2 5.00 81.72%
2004 Mohren Märzen 11.60 1046.5 1008.9 4.90 80.17%
2004 Schlägl Märzen 11.80 1047.4 1009.0 5.00 80.25%
Birmingham Daily Post - Wednesday 27 January 1869, page 6. 
British Medical Journal Jan 23rd 1869, page 84
"Theory and Practice of the Preparation of Malt and the Fabrication of Beer" Julius E. Thausing, Anton Schwartz and A.H. Bauer, Philadelphia 1882, pages 748-751
Brockhaus' konversations-lexikon, Band 2 by F.A. Brockhaus, 1898
Jahresbericht über die Leistungen der chemischen Technologie, 1903 page 434.
Baumgartner website
Eggenberg website
Hofstetten website
Kaltenhausen website
Mohren website
Schlägl website

Modern Austrian Märzen reminds me of low-gravity British IPA. Undervalued because it isn't what ideology tells us it should be.


Rod said...

Ron -
Love it when you write about German/Austrian/Czech lager brewing.
Having just come back from a week in Salzburg, mostly spent in the Augustiner, I have had ample Austrian Maerzen, and loved every drop.

Shame, like your recent Oktoberfest post that there's no info on colour, but interesting to note (again like the Festbier post) that whilst OG has fallen over the years, attenuation has risen, so the ABV has remained pretty well constant.
Very interesting - time to start your definitive work on Lager!

Ron Pattinson said...


there will be more Lager stuff coming up. I've been doing some more ressearch. Not quite sure how I've found time for it.

You're a jammy git having a week in Augustiner. I could happily spend the whole summer there.