Carousel German Beer Lager

Vienna in winter.

I wrote in my very first post on this blog that I don’t often do straight-ahead beers, and that’s still generally true. That said, I do like to try my hand at a to-style recipe once in a while, just to make sure my processes are tight and consistent.

Recently, I’ve been digging into lagers (mostly German-style) pretty hard, and I’ve been loving the results. Anyone tapped into the beer scene knows that pilsner is ascendant, and I’m definitely one of the many craft drinkers who are thankful for that trend. But while I love pils, I have a soft spot for its maltier cousin, the Vienna lager.

After hearing the Brulosophy guys wax poetic about their Vienna recipe time and again, I decided I had to give it a try. I mean, it sounded simple as can be, and the mild winter we’ve been having in Bend has left my garage at the perfect temp for fermenting a lager without proper temp control.

What’s in it?

The Vitals

  • Method: BIAB, no sparge, mega-squeeze
  • Batch size: 4 gallons
  • Mash: 60 minutes @ 152F
  • Boil: 60 minutes
  • OG: 1.052
  • FG: 1.012
  • ABV: 5.2%
  • IBU: 20

The Grain

  • 7.25 lb. Vanora (Mecca Grade Estate Vienna)
  • 0.15 lb. Fawcett Pale Chocolate

The Hops

  • 30g Hallertau Mittelfrueh [3.6% AA] @ FWH
  • 20g Hallertau Mittelfrueh @ 10 minutes

The Rest

  • Water: 5 gallons Bend tap water + 0.25 tab Campden, 1 tsp. gypsum, 0.5 tsp. CaCl2, 0.25 tsp. baking soda
  • Yeast: 1.5 packets Saflager W-34/70, rehydrated in 1 cup of wort drawn off 5 minutes before end of mash

How’d it go?

I honestly think I’m going to get rid of this section. It went fine! All of my brews go fine these days, unless I do something really stupid or my equipment decides to shit the bed.

How’s it taste?

Appearance: Crystal clear, thanks to a combination of extended lagering in the keg and gelatin fining. Really a beautiful beer, to be honest, though I might back the pale chocolate down just a bit next time to get a slightly lighter color. Pours with a beautiful head that diminishes to a thin cap. Excellent lacing around the glass as I drink. Fine bubbles rising continuously, right through the last sip.

Aroma: Malty sweetness, crusty toast, light caramel. I don’t get a ton of hop character, and what’s there is mildly herbal. A friend at a homebrew club meeting said he didn’t get much of anything at all from this beer on the nose, and I agree that it’s ultra subtle.

Taste: Admittedly, I haven’t had many Vienna lagers. They’re just not commonly made in the US, and they’re definitely not readily available in 6-packs. However, I did get to taste the winners at this year’s Best of Craft Beer Awards, since I happened to be stewarding that judging table. I’d say mine hits the marks established by those beers. The taste is clean, slightly sharp, slightly sweet, edging into the toasty/lightly caramelly flavors that are apparent in the aroma. The hops are there primarily as back-of-tongue bitterness, but also contribute to a lightly floral finish.

Mouthfeel: Crisp and clean, with a moderately lingering character on the palate. I carbed it pretty high, which no doubt contributed to the crispness and provided a nice counterweight to the toasty/caramelly flavors. Exceptionally easy to drink.

Would I brew it again?

Oh, hell yes.

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