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These days there are plenty of perfectly respectable breweries who will slap an “Oktoberfest” label on pretty much any old bottle of amber ale; unfortunately, they are missing the point entirely. A true Märzen is a lager, traditionally brewed sometime in (you guessed it) March, then enjoyed, once it’s been properly aged and settled, in (you guessed it again) October.
The brand-spankin-new Märzen from Switchback Brewing Co. is not one of those falsified ales. It’s a true lager: slowly fermented in multiple stages, unfiltered, and allowed to settle in the brewery’s aging tanks for 6 weeks. What results is a clear, refreshing, amber liquid that is best served cold, and is absolutely true to its name.
Known primarily for their unfiltered, flagship ale, the Burlington-based brewery has been a mainstay at taps across the state of Vermont, pretty much since they started brewing back in 2002. For those of us who wanted to enjoy a Switchback Ale at home, however, the wait for a bottling line at the brewery took almost a decade.
Their attention to detail and emphasis on quality actually beat out consumer demand, until they were able to purchase a bottling line (from Germany, no less) that would keep the flavors of their beers intact. Switchback has managed to grow its business in a careful and sustainable way– never sacrificing quality or flavor by getting too big, too quickly. It’s a formula that has worked very well, as is evidenced by the freshness of their beers.
Review: Switchback Märzen
Style: Lager; Oktoberfest
Color: Medium amber
Tasting Notes: For a lager, this beer showed complexity that most in its category cannot approach. The amber-gold liquid poured clear as a bell into my glass, its foamy head resembling the color of freshly-churned butter. The flavors were nicely balanced, with a caramel maltiness and pleasant, mild, bitterness. The beer continued to deepen in character as I sipped, and as it warmed I still found it refreshing.
I would enjoy many flagons of this beer with piles of sausages and potatoes; or as a palate cleanser between bites of mustard-lashed, soft pretzels. Will I drink it again before the limited-edition runs out of stock at my local beer store? Yes, yes indeed I will.
Every beer has a story, and I encourage you to check out Switchback Brewery’s by visiting their website.
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