While living in Seattle, I had embarrassingly easy access to a world-class Vienna Lager brewed by Chuckanut Brewing in Bellingham, WA. Their beer always does well nationally at the GABF and easily became one of my go-to session beers as well as the inspiration for this recipe.
Vienna is in many was the perfect craft lager. I don’t think any other style of beer epitomizes balance the way a good Vienna can. It is quenching with a subtle complexity keeping your palate from boredom. This beer features a nice toasty malt profile while not being overbearing or too rich. There is a small crystal malt presence which is often overdone and can become sweet and in conflict with the dry toasty quality of the Vienna and Munich malt this recipe uses. It is a dryer and leaner version of its bigger brother the Oktoberfest / Marzen.
Volume: 6.2 Gallons
Original Gravity: 1.050
Terminal Gravity: 1.012
Color: 13.82 SRM
Alcohol: 4.98% (ABV)
Bitterness: 23.7 IBUs
Efficiency: 80% (tweak recipe to match efficiency of your brew house)
Boil Length: 90 Minutes
4.5 lb (39.1%) Vienna Malt; Weyermann
2 lb (17.4%) Pilsner Malt; Weyermann
4.5 lb (39.1%) Munich TYPE II; Weyermann
4 oz (2.2%) Carapils®; Weyermann
2 oz (1.1%) Carafa Special® TYPE II; Weyermann
2 oz (1.1%) Melanoidin Malt; Weyermann
70 g (83.2%) Hallertauer Mittelfrüher (3.4%) – added during boil, boiled 60 m
1 ea Whirlfloc Tablets (Irish moss) – added during boil, boiled 15
.75 tsp Wyeast Nutrient – added during boil, boiled 10 m
.5 oz (16.8%) Hallertauer Mittelfrüher (3.4%) – added during boil, boiled 10 m
1 ea White Labs WLP833 German Bock Lager Yeast – 2 gallon decanted 1.040 starter
Carbon-filtered Seattle water which is very soft. All salts added to grist before mashing in.
2 g Epsom Salts (Magnesium Sulfate)
4.0 g Calcium Carbonate (Calcium Carbonate)
4.0 g Gypsum (Calcium Sulfate)
8.0 g Calcium Chloride (Calcium Chloride)
90 Minute Saccharification Rest at 154° F
10 Minute Mashout Rest at 170° F (I do a second hot water infusion to mashout)
Sparge at 170° F and collect sufficient runnings to hit pre-boil volumes
- Chill wort to 44° F and pitch yeast slurry.
- Set temp controller to 48° F and allow to rise to this temp.
- Ferment at 48-50° F until beer is 2-6 points from terminal gravity then raise temp to 58-60° F. Hold at 58-60° F for 2 days.
- Chill fermenter 2° F per day until temperature is at 34° F. Rack beer off yeast and lager at near freezing 4-8 weeks.
Keys to Brewing
- Yeast is of paramount importance for craft lagers. A lot of outdated homebrew advice recommends fermenting warm for the first couple days to build yeast populations and then crashing the fermentation back to lager yeast fermentation temps. I don’t like this since I believe it can lead to significant problems including excessive ester, fusel, and diacetyl formation. I think it also tends to shock the yeast and produce incomplete fermentations. Build a big starter, pitch cold, and go from there.
- Use restraint with crystal malt. Too many homebrew samples are heavy on the caramel flavors which tend to mask the more subtle toasty / melanoiden flavors from the base malts.
- I like a touch of dehusked carafa malt to lend some rich red color to the beer. I tend to toss it into the mash right before I sparge to avoid any roasty flavors.
The beer brewed from this recipe has won numerous awards as a BJCP Category 3a. Vienna Lager:
- 2012 NHC First Round – 1st Place
- 2012 Cascade Brewers Cup / Puget Sound Pro-Am – 2nd Place
- 2012 Novembeerfest – 3rd Place
- 2012 Skagit County Fair – 2nd Place
- 2012 Best of the Bay – 1st Place, 2nd Best of Show
- 2012 Evergreen State Fair – 1st Place