Vienna Lager 4.0 Homebrew Recipe

Vienna Ready to BRewUpdate: Unfortunately, the beer didn’t place in the second round of NHC. It did get pretty good scores however. I’ve uploaded the score sheets, in case you’re curious.

You can probably tell by my history of posting Vienna Lager recipes, that I love brewing (and drinking) the style. It is a great sessionable lager, and a lot of fun to brew. With that said, brewing this batch had ulterior motives.

My last batch of this beer turned out great. Judges tended to agree as it placed in both Homebrew Alley 8, and the first round of the National Homebrew Competition. Unfortunately, the bottles I have left are starting to show their age and will be well past their prime when the second round of the NHC occurs this June. With that in mind, I decided to brew up another batch. The recipe below was brewed on 3/30/14. This is pushing the time frame that I would normally be comfortable turning a lager of this strength around in. With careful yeast management and temperature control, it should be just enough time for the mid-June second round of the competition.


Recipe Specs:
Size: 3.24 gal
Efficiency: 68%
Attenuation: 74%
Brew Date: 3/30/14

Original Gravity: 1.052 SG
Terminal Gravity: 1.014 SG
Color: 13.97 SRM
Alcohol: 5.07% ABV
Bitterness: 24.1 IBUs

3.75 lb (51.3%) Vienna Malt – Weyermann
1.25 lb (17.1%) Pilsner Malt – Weyermann
2 lb (27.4%) Munich TYPE II – Weyermann
4 oz (3.4%) Carafoam® – Weyermann
1 oz (0.9%) Carafa® TYPE II – Weyermann

Water Additions (in Mash):
Soft NYC Water
4g Calcium Chloride

My recipe employs a single step decoction mash.

A quick single decoction enriches the malt character… and it’s a lot of fun.

Mash Regiment:
20m – 144°F Beta Rest
Decoct to Alpha Rest
20m – 156°F Alpha Rest
Direct Fire to Mashout
5m – 168.0°F Mashout Rest

24g Hallertauer Mittelfrüher (4.0% AA) – 60 m
14g  Hallertauer Mittelfrüher (4.0% AA) – 10 m



Kettle Additions:
0.5 ea Whirlfloc Tablet – 15 m
0.5 tsp Wyeast Nutrient – 10 m

White Labs WLP833 German Bock Lager – 1800ml Starter on Stirplate

1. Chill to 46°F and keep at 48°F until activity slows.
2. Raise to 58°F for diacetyl rest 24 hours.
3. Cool 6°F / day until back down to 32°F.
4. Rack to corny keg and lager at 32°F 3-4 weeks.

Northern English Brown 2.0 – Recipe and Brewday

n-brnUpdate 3/22/14: Tasting and Review

For those who were able to get entries into the 2014 National Homebrew Competition, time is running short to brew and select the beers your want to enter. For 2014 the AHA has enacted a four-entry limit, a dramatic shift from past years, which were wide open, and a direct testament to the competition’s growing popularity.

For those hardcore competition enthusiasts, the NHC has always been a numbers game. Chasing prizes like the Ninkasi was about brewing and entering as many high-quality beers as you physically could. At first glance, the new limits seem to even out the playing field. This is generally true and dramatically changes the meaning of prizes like the Ninkasi. The opportunity, however, still exists for those wishing to play the numbers game in a more nuanced manner. Taking a look at the pre-competition selection side of the game unveils another opportunity to strategize. In many ways, the new limits not only force you to test your skills as a brewer, but also the analytic skills a brewer must use in order to select the beers they believe are the truest interpretations of their respective styles.

In order to best increase my chances, I have a pool of approximately eight beers from which I plan to select my four entries. One of the beers I’ll be selecting from is a Northern English Brown ale. This is the first time I’ve brewed this beer since it won a gold medal in the second round of the 2012 NHC. The recipe remains true to the original with slight changes for recipe size and availability of specialty grains.

Northern English Brown Recipe

Size: 3.25 gal – My goal is to net 2.75 gallons into the fermenter.
Efficiency: 64%
Attenuation: 75.0% (estimated)

Original Gravity: 1.050 SG
Terminal Gravity: 1.013 SG (estimated)
Color: 17.62 SRM
Alcohol: 4.95% ABV (estimated)
Bitterness: 25.3 IBU (calculated)

4.75 lb (65.5%) Maris Otter (Crisp)
1.5 lb (20.7%) Vienna Malt (Weyermann)
4 oz (3.4%) Special Roast Malt (Briess)
4 oz (3.4%) Victory® Malt (Briess)
4 oz (3.4%) Crystal 60 (Thomas Fawcett)
4 oz (3.4%) Pale Chocolate Malt (Thomas Fawcett)

20 g East Kent Goldings (5.8% AA) –  60 m
0.25 oz Styrian Goldings (3.2% AA) – 5 m
0.125 oz East Kent Goldings (5.8% AA) – 5 m

Kettle Additions:
0.5 ea Whirlfloc Tablets – 15 m
0.5 tsp Wyeast Nutrient – 10 m

WYeast 1469-PC West Yorkshire Ale – 1L 1.040 Starter on Stir Plate

Mash Regiment:
Saccharification Rest – 152 °F – 60m
Mashout – 168 °F – 5m

1. Chill to 60°F and let rise to 64°F. Hold until activity begins to slow.
2. Raise temp to 70°F until all activity is complete.
3. Crash to 32°F 2 days then package.

2012 National Homebrew Competition Results

Homebrewers Guild of Seattle Proper and Charlie Papazian

The HGSP Pouring at Club Night with Charlie Papazian

2012 was a banner year for homebrew growth. This became evident last year as the National Homebrewers Conference and related National Homebrew Competition sold out in a matter of days. It is astonishing to see the popularity of the hobby grow by leaps and bounds. The sheer number of brewers is amazing, but more importantly the quality across the board is getting better and better each year.

The absolute highlight of my competitive brewing in 2012 was having 10 beers make it to the second round of the National Homebrew Competition, and having one of them score a gold medal in the final round. I’m even more proud of the fact that the points these entries earned along with those accumulated by the other talented brewers in the Homebrewers Guild of Seattle Proper were enough to earn us 6th place in the Homebrew Club of the Year rankings; an amazing feat considering there are only 8 in our club.

Bow Down the Charlie P and Get Your Gold

Bow Down to Charlie P and Get Your Gold – Photo Courtesy of Dan Stillwell

The National Homebrew Competition is the biggest in the world. This past year’s competition had 7,823 entries with each judging center accepting 750 entries. The only way to do well in this competition is to not only craft high quality entries, but do it across a broad spectrum of categories. I entered 38 beers into the first round, and of these 10 moved on to the final round (26.3%). I think this is a great average and very telling metric. Hopefully, at some point the AHA will begin taking this average into account with the award calculations as a means to moderate the explosive growth the competition has seen.

 2012 NHC Winning Recipes

  • Vienna Lager – 1st Place (round 1) Category 3 – European Amber Lagers (3a. Vienna Lager)
  • N. English Brown – 1st Place (round 1 & 2) Category 11 – English Brown Ale (11c. – N. English Brown)
  • Single Tap – 1st Place (round 1) Category 14 – IPA (14b. American IPA)
  • American Barley Wine – 1st Place (round 1) Category 19 – Strong Ale (19c. American Barley Wine)
  • Vanilla Milk Stout – 1st Place (round 1) Category 21 – Spice / Herb / Vegetable Beer
  • Five (Blended Strong Ale) – 1st Place (round 1) Category 23  – Specialty Beer
  • Kolsch – 2nd Place (round 1) Category 6 – Light Hybrid Beers (6c. Kolsch)
  • Saison – 2nd Place (round 1) Category 16 – Belgian & French Ale (16c. Saison)
  • Düsseldorf Altbier – 3rd Place (round 1) Category 7 – Amber Hybrid Beers (7c. Düsseldorf Altbier)
  • Spazzy Man Wheat – 3rd Place (round 1) Category 15 – German Wheat & Rye Beer (15a. Weizen/Weissbier)

More Interesting NHC Related Links