Thanksgiving is fast approaching, and if you’re like me, you’ve already been inundated with recipes and life hacks for an all-sous-vide meal prep. I don’t have any of those for you today, but I do have your dessert beer picked out for you: Spoetzl Märzen. This most recent collaboration between the brewery that brought us Shiner Bock, Spoetzel Brewery, and another Texas favorite, Balcones Distilling, starts with a lager—a fairly rare option for a barrel aged beer. Spoetzl says this Märzen base is similar, but not quite the same as their already very good Oktoberfest. The resulting beer was then aged in a Balcones barrel that previously held batches of their award winning single malt whiskey.
You’ll definitely want to break out the small, fancy glasses to share this beer, as it packs 11% ABV into each glass. This Märzen has an amber, copper color, with a thick white head. The aroma is very yeasty, like any good fall lager. The yeast and bread aroma hit me immediately when I (finally) got the cork out.
Sidebar: I literally needed to use pliers to undo the muselet (that’s the fancy word for the wire cage that keeps the cork from flying out. Use that word when you want to impress someone on a date). Then the cork, itself, was so tightly fit that I thought I’d never get it out. I wasn’t the only one with an issue, Garrett reported the same problem, and had to resort to a corkscrew. So, pro-tip: if the cork is stuck for you, too, either run the neck under some warm water for a minute, or grab a sword and try some sabrage.
In the glass, the familiar spicy Oktoberfest aromas are punched up with the oak, caramel, and whiskey aromas from the barrels. All of the classic Märzen flavors are there – bread, light spices, along with a very nice, sweet caramel flavor. If you are a fan of west coast IPAs, you’ll probably not recognize the Bavarian hops, but they’re in there, and they provide a nice balance to the starring malt and co-starring yeast. Additionally, the Balcones barrel adds some oak and char, and a boozy kick that reminds you (however briefly) that you’re drinking an 11% beer.
The thick, almost syrupy body makes for a great dessert. I think you’ll find this beer pairs very well with an apple or pecan pie, or a stolen moment of quiet outside as you hide from your relatives’ arguing. Pick up a 750ml bottle (or 3) at your local HEB, Specs or your favorite craft beer store.