Andreas Krennmair, author of Historic German and Austrian Beer for the Homebrewer, has spent the past couple of years researching and writing his latest book, Vienna Lager. What follows is a traditional recipe adapted from his new book. The recipe is a reconstruction of Vienna lager according to the historic specifications and brewing-process descriptions from the 1870s and 1880s—however, in the Brewer’s Notes below, we describe a variation based on more modern methods.
Krennmair’s recipe includes ranges of temperatures or times to account for differences in the historical records. We include those ranges here; feel free to choose more specific targets, or just aim for the middle.
Batch size: 5 gallons (19 liters)
Brewhouse efficiency: 75%
10 lb (4.5 kg) Vienna malt
0.9 oz (25 g) Saaz [3% AA] at 120 minutes
1.8 oz (51 g) Saaz [3% AA] at 75 minutes
White Labs WLP820 Oktoberfest/Märzen
DIRECTIONS Mill the grains and mash in at about 97–100°F (36–38°C).
First decoction: Pull about one-third of the mash from the thickest part, bring it to 158–167°F (70–75°C), and rest there for 10–35 minutes. Bring the decoction to a boil, boil it for 5–15 minutes, then return it to the main mash, which should rise to a temperature of 113–122°F (45–50°C). Rest for 5–10 minutes.
Second decoction: Again, pull a thick one-third of the mash, bring it to a boil, and boil it for 20–50 minutes. Return it to the main mash, which should then rise to 140–149°F (60–65°C).
Third decoction: Pull 40 to 50 percent of the mash, but this time from the thinner, more liquid portion. Boil it until the protein coagulates and a hot break forms and settles, then return it to the main mash, which should rise to about 167°F (75°C). Lauter and sparge to get about 7 gallons (26 liters) of wort, or more, depending on your rate of evaporation.
Boil for 2 hours, following the hops schedule. After the boil, chill the wort to 50°F (10°C), aerate, and pitch the yeast. Ferment at 50–54°F (10–12°C) until it reaches final gravity, about 2 or 3 weeks. Gradually lower the temperature by 2–3°F (1°C) per 12 hours until it reaches 34°F (1°C), lager there for 4–6 weeks, then bottle or keg and carbonate.
In his book, Krennmair includes a version of this recipe more tailored to modern ingredients and methods. These are the main differences:
- There are two decoctions instead of three.
- For the first decoction, pull a thick two-thirds of the mash, instead of one-third, with a 20-minute rest at 158–162°F (70–72°C), then boil for 10 minutes before returning it to the main mash, which should bring it to about 149°F (65°C).
- Boil for 90 minutes instead of two hours, adding all 2.7 oz (76 g) of hops at the start of the boil.