9/18/23: Christian Moerlein Brewing Company's Märzen

9:38 AM

Ah, Christian Moerlein. I've had more than a few of their beers and can't say I particularly care for what they do. The only one I've done up on the blog was their Glier's Goetta Lager, which landed squarely in the "okay" range. Anything else I've had from the brewery unfortunately ranks lower.

A can of Märzen.

I'll tell you now that the only reason I picked up this beer was because it was the first Oktoberfest available at my local Kroger this season. I've had it and have already formed an opinion on it (you might be able to read between the lines of the above paragraph for a spoiler) that I hope to get down in type today. Buckle up; it might just be a rough ride.

Christian Moerlein was a Bavarian immigrant who settled in Cincinnati in 1841 as a blacksmith. He soon began brewing beer in his shop, an endeavor turned into the largest brewery in the state. His brewery continued operations after his death (in 1897) until Prohibition hit. In the '80s, a brand bearing his name was reintroduced, which was bought up and brought home to The Queen City in 2004.

It seems like, super recently, Moerlein's gone through a bit of a shakeup and are looking to reinvent themselves. I say this because they only have two beers listed on their "Our Beer" page; one of them is Märzen. It's here listed as "The official beer of the Oktoberfest season" (Munich would like a strong word with Moerlein), one brewed with Munich, Vienna, and Two Row malts and Hallertau Mittelfrüh hops. My can lists the ABV as 5.8%.

Getting into the lager's nose, I find biscuit, toffee, lemon (which is odd), and (so odd it's inexplicable) an undue measure of skunky funkiness. While I genuinely enjoy the sweetness of the beer's malt in its bouquet, that off-aroma is disastrous. I can see why Purrl only gave my can four quick whiffs.

Purrl cat sniffing my can of Märzen.
Sorry, Kitty Girl.

For those hoping the unpleasantness with Märzen would only be found in it's aroma, I'm sorry to report that it carries through to the flavor. Sure, the flavor profile's fine enough at first: There's taffy and citrus (which are strange flavors in a Märzen but ones I can overlook if they're inoffensive, as there are here), which are followed closely by expected biscuit and breadiness. Then, the funk settles--to my palate its a mix of sour and skunk (kind of like an over-ripe lemon that's been submerged in a bucket of used dish water) that mingles with the maltiness into the finish, turning those pleasant malt notes into cloying sweetness by the end of my swig. There's a bit of alcohol wallop here that doesn't match the lager's ABV. It hits pretty heavy and I have no idea why.

The one thing Moerlein got right here is the mouthfeel. It's crisp and frothy. It's a lager that, going from only mouthfeel, would make one want each successive pull.

I'm sure I've mentioned before on the blog about the Oktoberfest celebration my roommates and I had in our apartment back in the late-2010s. I've talked about how we bought a case of cheap beer and drank it one chilly autumnal Saturday afternoon because hitting an actual Oktoberfest was out of the question that year.

What I'm sure I never mentioned is what that cheap beer was. It was Bürger Classic. I'm saying this now because Bürger Classic is a better Oktoberfest beer than Moerlein's Märzen.

Before we got to the beer's rating, can we talk about little bit about its label design? Because it's terrible. The background is orange and the main text is red. Cool, okay, that works. But the additional text (including the Surgeon General's Warning, ABV, and info about the beer/Moerlein) is gold which, against the orange, is damn-near unreadable. I'm not a graphic design person, but I know this shouldn't have been put out looking like it does.

Showing off the illegible gold text on the Märzen can.
Nope, can't read it.
Look, I won't mince words. Christian Moerlein Märzen's a 4.0/10 beer. It's the worst Oktoberfest I've had and will most likely be the last Moerlein brew I ever drink. Keep away from this stuff.

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