Hello, Welcome to our Friday video, today I am drinking a Vienna Lager, this beer is a colab between Donzoko Brewing Co. and Braybrooke Brewery. Both of these brewing companies specialise in lager, done really well and I know at least some of the inspiration has come from Mahrs Brau, this is a brew pub located in Bamburg. I have been lucky enough to visit and drink their A U which is an amazing, unfiltered, full bodied beer with huge yeast character, if you ever get the chance it really is a destination.
I would recommend that you try beers from both of these breweries who are absolutely at the top of their game, as a brewer this is what I will be aiming for. Also, Braybrooke have the advantage of using really nice stubby bottles that are perfect for reusing and the labels come off nice and cleanly. It is like they were designed for home brewers.
One of the most often asked questions, especially from new brewers is “ I want to brew a lager” Yep, we all do, but, it is one of the most difficult styles of beer to get right and there are some big pitfalls if you don’t have the right equipment or choose the wrong ingredients.
So, this beer is a Vienna lager and I thought that we would take a look at what goes into brewing it. From the style guidelines a Vienna lager is malty with low hop flavour and bitterness. It should have toasty and bready malt flavour and shouldn’t be sweet. It is exactly these subtle flavours that make this style a challenge to brew, there is nowhere for even the slightest mistake to hide, it will be obvious.
Since the flavours are so subtle it is imperative that the correct malt bill is used, from the correct maltsters, as a brewer you have the opportunity to use the very same malts that the best brewers of the Vienna style are using so look at the range from Dingemans, Weyermann or Bestmalz. My personal opinion is that no crystal / caramel malts are required, my ideal malt bill would be
For the hops, we are not looking for high hop flavour and a bitterness level at about 25 – 30 IBU’s. Tradition German varieties are used, my favourite is Mittlefruh, but Hersbrucker could also be used, we are looking for a 90 minute boil and no need for late additions or dry hop
One of the big mistakes that can be made when brewing a lager, especially for newer brewers is realising that the fermentation profile is totally different to ale. Lagers are fermented cold, we are looking at 10 – 12c, also, it will take longer to ferment out and quite often lager fermentations are gentler without the massive krausen that you see with ale ferments. Some yeast can throw very strong sulphur aromas, this is not a matter of concern, the yeast will clean up, just give it time. So to correctly ferment this lager you are going to need either a temperature controlled FV such as from Grainfather or Ss Brewtech or perhaps more simply a fridge with Inkbird controller, I will put links to blog posts and product below. If you have none of the above you can of course brew in the winter and let nature take care, ultimately as the brewer these are the choices you have but extended cold storage is required, it give the bite and the classic clean flavour. You’re looking at as close to zero as possible for as long as your patients holds out.
One further point about the yeast is the necessity of using enough, read the instructions on your chosen yeast as they do differ between brands. Typically for the wet yeasts a starter or more than one pack is required for a 40 pint batch. Without doubt making this beer requires planning.
Water profile, the subject is huge and can be very complex. To successfully brew a Vienna lager almost certainly you will need to adjust your water, if you don’t, yes you will still make beer but it probably wont be to style. There is little point in in making any adjustments to your water without at least carrying out a water hardness / alkalinity test. These are easily done and I will add a link for the testing kits. Once you have the results these can then be plugged into a calculator, there are various available but the one on Brewfather is very good and it will give the amounts of additions required.
So, that is the tradition way that a Vienna style lager is produced, but we are homebrewers, and we can play round with ingredients and techniques, this is what makes the hobby so interesting. With the speed at which new ingredients and methods are appearing lager brewing is being turned on it’s head. We can take some of the complexities away, so with some of the Kveik yeasts we can now simulate a clean lager ferment but at 25c and it takes just a couple of days, or look at fermenting under pressure using Whitelabs WLP925, also a clean fermentation can be accomplished in a very short timescale. These exciting ingredients allow us to make great beer by breaking traditional rules.
That’s all for this week, have a great weekend.