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Column: Raise your stein and celebrate Oktoberfest from home
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Celebrate Oktoberfest this year with a large stein of Märzen beer. - photo by Kelsey Podo

Don your dirndls and lederhosen, Oktoberfest is here.  

Sure, Helen’s 50th annual Oktoberfest has been postponed to 2021, and it’s not safe to congregate in masses thanks to the pandemic. But, that doesn’t mean you can’t celebrate with a nice stein of your favorite German beer.  

Traditionally the holiday period lasts for 16 days, so you have until Oct. 4 to get in the spirit. As for me, I plan to buy copious amounts of German beer and hold an Oktoberfest celebration with my husband and three or so friends, outside and socially distanced, in my backyard.  

When I think of Oktoberfest, one style comes to mind — Märzen. 

To all you non-German speakers, read closely. The first syllable of Märzen rhymes with “bear,” not “car.” Say it with me — MAER-tzen, not MAR-zen. 

The beer’s origins date back to the mid-19th century before refrigeration really kicked off. Because it was hard to store beer during the warmer months due to spoilage, the brewing season typically ended in the spring.  

To learn a little more about what goes into crafting a Märzen, I spoke with Tucker Eagleson, brewmaster of Tucker Brewing Co. It’s safe to say this guy knows a thing or two about Oktoberfest beer. Afterall, his brewery almost exclusively makes German-style beer.  

Before starting his brewery, Eagleson said he apprenticed under Jace Marti, brewmaster of August Schell’s Brewing in Minnesota. He said Marti underwent a brewmaster program in Berlin, and inspired Eagleson to do the same.  

Over the course of six months, Eagleson dove headfirst into the art of German craft brewing at VLB Berlin. 

“It was an awesome experience,” Eagleson said. “The schooling was pretty intensive. I got my butt kicked.” 

Eagleson describes the ideal Märzen as “relatively light, but still holds that rich complex malt body, and finishes relatively dry.” 

When you drink a Märzen, it shouldn’t sit in your gut like a hefty stout. Afterall, it’s usually consumed for Oktoberfest, where people don’t limit themselves to one beer.  

It’s light without losing the fresh-out-of-the-oven bread flavor that comes from the malt and is ridiculously easy drinking. I’ve never found a Märzen that didn’t prompt me to grab another — it’s that smooth. 

Most have a beautiful pale to reddish brown color, that glows like amber gemstones in the sunlight. Märzen typically range from 5-6.5% alcohol by volume. 

Eagleson said with Tucker Brewing Co.’s “Tucktoberfest Märzen,” he really wanted to showcase the malts to draw out a “bready toasting aroma.” He used specialty malts from Weyermann Malts out of Bamberg, Germany. 

“I toured the Weyermann facility a couple of years ago,” he said. “It’s like the Disney Land of Beer. It’s pretty amazing what they do over there. Their malts are the best in the world.” 

If you find yourself in DeKalb County, pop on over to Tucker Brewing Co., located at 2003 South Bibb Drive in Tucker. The brewery boasts an extensive selection of German-style beer and a giant outdoor beer garden, plus, they’re celebrating Oktoberfest until Oct. 3. 

If you’re not planning on venturing out of Hall County anytime soon, keine Sorge (no worries). Märzen and other German-style beer is already flooding into your local grocery store and beer shops. 

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