Today, after two weeks in the primary fermenter, I kegged my Vienna Brown Ale. Final gravity was at 1.013, down from 1.048, for 4.6% abv. I am hoping this one mellows a bit in the keg; right now it has a little acidity at the backend, and my fingers are crossed that’s not an infection in the making!
Many of my recent brews have explored styles that are new to me–saison, Bohemian pilsner, witbier, and altbier, to name a few. This has been a ton of fun (and produced some tasty results), and I am ever-searching for new ways to expand my brewing repertoire further. For the next round of exploration, I want to really delve into Vienna malt. My standard base malt has been American 2-row, and last winter I spent a bit of time playing with Maris Otter too. I’ve certainly brewed with Vienna malt as a minor ingredient, but still don’t feel like I have a good handle on its flavor characteristics. Time to change that!
Descriptors for Vienna malt are typically vague–phrases like “full-bodied” and “golden colored” don’t really tell me much about the flavor itself. “Toast” and “biscuit” aromas are also supposed to be present. I’m not yet confident what this means within this particular malt, so I need to find out firsthand.
Thus, I recently purchased a 55 pound bag of Weyermann Vienna Malt from my local homebrew shop. I plan to do a whole series of brews with it during the rest of 2016. First up is a brown ale, then an IPA, and after that a classic Vienna lager (because it would be a shame not to!).
My brown ale recipe for this time around is fairly simple, veering towards the malty side (which I like in a brown ale). I have a good feel for what the various crystal and chocolate malts taste like, so this batch makes a solid first chance to get my brain cells around the overall properties of Vienna malt.
Vienna Brown Ale
- 9.5 lbs. Vienna malt (Weyermann)
- 0.5 lb. chocolate malt (Briess)
- 0.25 lb. crystal 40 malt
- 0.15 lb. de-bittered black malt (Dingemans)
- 0.5 oz. Nugget hops pellets (13% alpha), 60 minute boil
- 1 tablet Whirlfloc, 10 minute boil
- 1 pkg. Nottingham dry yeast (Danstar)
- 1.051 o.g., 1.012 f.g., 5.1% abv, 24 IBU, 23 SRM, 5.5 gallons into the fermenter
- I mashed in with 4.1 gallons of water at 163°, to hit 154°. This was down to 151° after 45 minutes. After 60 minutes, I added 1 gallon of water at 190°, to hit a mash temperature of 155°. I waited 10 minutes, vorlaufed, and collected 3.3 gallons of first runnings. Then, I added 3.7 gallons of water at 182°, to hit 166°. After 10 minutes, I vorlaufed and drained the mash tun.
- In total, I collected 7.1 gallons of wort with a gravity of 1.039, for 71% efficiency.
- I boiled the wort for 60 minutes, adding hops and Whirlfloc per the schedule. The wort had boiled down to around 6.25 gallons (unchilled) by the end of the time.
- After 60 minutes, I turned off the flame and chilled the wort to 80°. I transferred the wort into the fermenter (5.5 gallons total), and pitched the dry yeast directly. I sealed up the fermenter, and will begin fermentation at 68°.
- Starting gravity was 1.048, slightly below my target of 1.051. I brewed this batch on 20 August 2016.