Brewery debuts first locally made Oktoberfest beverage

Will Gomez, head brewer of The Brew Bridge, works on one of his recipes in the facility’s brew room on Sept. 30.

The Brew Bridge is getting into the Oktoberfest spirits and has a new beverage to honor it.

The brewery announced the release of their Brew Bridge Märzen (German for March), Owensboro’s first locally-brewed Oktoberfest beer, on Sept. 23 — just in time for their own Oktoberfest activities to be as authentic as possible.

Brewed with German malts and hops and lagered, or cold-conditioned, for six months, the “malty crisp and refreshing” beer has 6% alcohol by volume.

Märzen, or sometimes known as Märzenbier, is a pale lager that originates from the German southeast state Bavaria and is usually served at the annual Munich Oktoberfest.

“It’s the Oktoberfest style that traditionally was brewed in March, and it was stored cold until fall season for the festivities,” said Will Gomez, head brewer. “As per tradition, we brew in March, and we store it — it’s called lagering. We store it for about six months, and we released it last weekend.”

Gomez said that they released a fest beer last year, which was similar in style and lighter in color, but wanted to create a beverage that was genuine to what someone could find in Europe.

“We used all German malts, all German hops, and I just wanted to have a nice, clean, refreshing beer (that is) perfect for Fall weather,” Gomez said. “It’s amber, it has caramel notes … has a little caramel sweetness (to it).”

The beverage has already been a hit with customers.

“We’ve been selling a lot of it,” Gomez said. “We’ve already gone through 45 gallons.”

A customer review an Internet site dedicated to beer enthusiasts said, “These Owensboro boys brew a really good Märzen. And I’ve had the real thing.”

Gomez looks for guidance before trying his hand at a trial-and-error process when making the new drink.

“I do my research,” Gomez said. “I read how the style was brewed in Bavaria, and then I look at some examples, and (then) I come up with my own recipe.

“I just wanted something that wasn’t too sweet, something that you could drink during the hot weather or cold weather. Just something that … was true to style and tradition — nothing off the wall … a simple recipe. Sometimes the simplest recipe is the best recipe.”

Gomez will sometimes do brewing at home to experiment with his ideas before making it at the brewery, keeping everyone’s taste buds in mind.

“I know what I like, and I try to figure out what other people like,” Gomez said. “Here at The Brew Bridge, we try to brew a beer for everybody. You could like dark beers, light beers, heavy beers, high alcohol, low alcohol — when I try to make a recipe, I try to make it so it would appeal to everybody. Very balanced.”

After brainstorming and concocting, the hard work begins.

“After I create my recipe, and I have the malts, the hops and the yeast, I mill the grains,” Gomez said. “You crush them — that way, when you’re mashing, you extract all the sugars that the yeast converts to alcohol. After the mashing process, you boil it to sanitize … and that’s when you also add your hops for bitterness, or for aroma and flavor.”

After the boiling process, Gomez cools the brew down and sends it to a fermenter, where he pitches, or adds, the yeast. For a lager like the Märzen, Gomez said that it ferments a little cooler — at about 45 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit — before storing it cold a couple weeks later.

The brewing process can differ depending on what Gomez is making.

“For ales and lagers, it’s different from beginning to end,” Gomez said. “You can probably brew an ale for about 10 to 14 days. A lager, it takes a little bit longer because you ferment it cold, and the yeast has to process all the sugars, and you have some flavors that you want to round out and smooth out. A lager can take between … five to eight weeks to a few months, depending on what style of lager that you’re (making).”

Once completed and ready to go on the menu, Gomez will have the staff test it out or take the risk and send it out to the customers.

“We do have the staff try it out,” Gomez said. “Sometimes, we just brew a batch and release it and see how the crowd likes it.”

Since starting at The Brew Bridge about a year ago, Gomez has released between 150 to 200 brews, and sending out his new creations has been mostly successful, albeit with small critical comments from a select few.

Gomez is happy to finally share the Märzen with the community and looks forward to having people come in, relax and enjoy.

“It’s one of those things that you’re proud of what you’ve done, and you just can’t wait for the people to enjoy the craft that you created,” Gomez said.

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