Sunday, January 20, 2013

Brew Day: Vienna Lager

A little less than a month ago, I brewed a Munich Helles with the intention that I'd use the use yeast cake to brew a series of malty lagers, including a Dunkel and a Vienna lager. Today I'll be brewing the Vienna portion, using a recipe that is about as simple as it gets; Vienna malt, with few ounces of debittered black malt for color and Mt. Hood hops for bitterness. While an all Vienna malt recipe is not typical of the BJCP style, I really enjoy its toasty malt character and figured it would be a nice change from the heavy handed, melanoiden and caramel flavors that many home brewers include in their lagers. As for the yeast, I did a fair amount of research as to find a strain that would both work well for malt forward lagers and ferment cleanly at lower temperatures. In the end, I settled on Whitelabs 838 Southern German Lager, as it is clean, malty, and produces little to no diacetyl. Lastly, while I no longer have a (lager) fermentation chest, I jerry-rigged a styrofoam box in the garage that with the help of a terrarium heater has allowed me to maintain a pretty constant 45-50F internal ferment temp. A tad low for most lagers, but better than fermenting the beer too warm.

Scottish Session
Simple Vienna : Vienna Lager

Recipe Specifics: 
Batch Size (Gal): 5.0
Total Grain (Lbs): 10.18
Anticipated OG: 1.052
Anticipated FG: 1.012
Anticipated SRM: 12
Anticipated IBU: 22
Efficiency: 70%
Boil Time: 90 Minutes

98.2% - 10.00 lbs. Vienna Malt
1.8% - 0.18 lbs. Debittered Black

1.00 oz. Mt. Hood @ 60 min for 22 IBU
0.50 oz. Mt. Hood @ flameout

Yeast: WhiteLabs 838 Southern German Lager
Mash 152F for 60 min (single infusion)
Brewed on 20 January


  1. "Vienna malt recipe is not typical of the BJCP style" ...does "vienna lager" even exist outside of the BJCP syle guide?

    1. Probably no, although the whole "Vienna" style is rather ambigious, even for their own categorization. The BJCP recognizes three types of Vienna lager under the same name... American, European, and Mexican. All of which are brewed from different ingredients. Can't say I've drunk anything called a Vienna lager while in Europe, although most American versions tend to be more like darker colored 'Octoberfests' than anything else; with their judicious use of dark munich and carmel malts... many not containing any Vienna malt at all.

      So then what makes a Vienna lager? I don't know. It doesn't even seem like the BJCP knows.

    2. Like the Oktoberfest beers from Germany, if you had anything in Vienna that was labelled "Vienna Lager" it probably would be deemed "not to style" by the BJCP :)

  2. Sometimes I think the BJCP should just invent new fantasy names for all the styles (like Rainbow Teddy Bear Ale) just to avoid all the style whinging whenever someone says he's going to brew an amber lag-- I mean Chestnut-Colored Unicorn Beer.


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