Lessons Learned

For the second year in a row, I donated a brewing session to a charity auction at the Vermont Law School, sponsored by the Women’s Law Group. This year’s winners, Susan and Kayvon, braved the muddy back roads and joined me this morning to brew a nicely-timed Smoked Maple Märzen, which I will be rolling out as my Oktoberfest in the fall. Susan has brewed before, at the extract and steeping grains level; Kayvon is new to brewing but I think he caught the bug this morning… Great conversation ranging from beer to politics to chickens and cats. It was a pleasure to have them on hand to brew. And I got a delicious chocolate-pecan pie out of the deal!

This was the second brew made with some of the grains I smoked a few weeks ago. Although I was using maple sap, the grains were actually smoked over oak, so I am mixing woods…. The weather has already turned too warm for much more sap to run, I fear, but I have enough sap in storage for the three beers and the mead I will brew with it. I may not be able to make any syrup this year, but I have my priorities!

Märzen/Oktoberfest 2012

5 gallons, all-grain


  • 6 gallons fresh raw maple sap, boiled down to 14 quarts
  • 2 lbs. oak-smoked Munich malt
  • 7-1/2 lbs. pilsner malt
  • 1 lb. 60°L crystal malt
  • 1/2 lb. melanoidin malt
  • 1 oz. Perle hop pellets (@8% aa)
  • 1 oz. Tettnanger hop pellets (@3.5% aa)
  • White Labs German Bock yeast (WLP830)
  • 1 cup maple syrup (for priming)


Crush the grains. Heat condensed sap to 166°F. Dough in and hold mash at 155°F for 60 minutes. Heat 14 quarts water to 168°F. Begin runoff and sparge, collecting 24 quarts sweet wort. Bring to a boil, add 1/2 oz. Perle hops. Boil 30 minutes, add Tettnanger hops. Boil 15 minutes, add remaining 1/2 oz. of Perle hops. Boil 15 minutes (60 total), remove from heat. Chill to 70°F, take a hydrometer reading. Pour wort into a sanitized fermenter, splashing well to aerate. Pitch yeast, seal and ferment at 60°F for eight to ten days. Rack to secondary, lager cool (45°F) for three months (!). Prime with maple syrup, bottle and condition cool for at least two months.


IBU’s: 30.4

Notes on maple: I have the luxury of being able to tap my own trees and get fresh sap. If you don’t you can approximate the sap for the mash by adding about a pint of maple syrup to 14 quarts of water. The warning I always repeat at this stage: use REAL maple syrup (preferably from Vermont, of course), not the 2% maple flavored corn syrup!

Notes on yeast: I reused the yeast culture from the Doppelbock I brewed in December, built up to a quart of slurry. This is reputed to be the yeast used by Ayinger, who make a fantastic Märzen…

Another note: You too can arrange a brewing session with the Guru – see the link on the home page for info about how to hire me to teach you to brew, or lead a beer tasting session!

More info on Oktoberfest-style beers: see the book “Oktoberfest, Vienna, Märzen” by George Fix – not the best book in the AHA style series, a little too technical and scientific for me, but contains a lot of interesting history and some good recipes…

One Reply to “Lessons Learned”

  1. Very similar to the mapled Marzen recipe I’m currently doing with my sap, although I’m not using smoked malt.

    Hopefully these will be done at the same time so we can compare.

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