The Vienna lager is an amber lager that has a smooth maltiness with a moderate bitterness and dry finish. It’s bready, toasty flavor is highly drinkable and enjoyed all year long. The style guidelines are below.
- Original Gravity: 1.048 – 1.055
- Final Gravity: 1.010 – 1.014
- Alcohol by Volume: 4.7% – 5.5%
- Bitterness: 18 – 30 IBU
- Color (SRM): 9 – 15
Vienna Lager Ingredients
The Vienna lager usually has a mix of Vienna, Munich, and pilsner malts for the base. The Vienna and Munich malts build up the bready and toasty flavors without adding much sweetness. The pilsner malt is, in my opinion, somewhat optional. If used, the pilsner malt can help soften the flavors added by the Vienna and Munich malts.
For specialties, you can add melanoidin to build the rich malty flavors, crystal malts for color and a touch of sweetness, and chocolate/Carafa for color. Be careful with the quantity of specialty malts. High amounts of crystal malt will add too much sweetness, and too much chocolate/Carafa will add an uncharacteristic roasty character.
The Vienna lager is known as an amber bitter European beer, so there should be at least a moderate amount of bitterness. I would add between 20 to 25 IBUs worth of a German noble hop at 60 minutes. If you want an earthy, floral aroma, add half an ounce of the same hop 5 minutes before flameout.
For the Vienna lager, use a clean strain that promotes malty flavors. The following are good choices.
- Hella Bock Lager – 2487-PC (Wyeast)
- Bavarian Lager – 2206 (Wyeast)
- Bohemian Lager – 2124 (Wyeast)
- German Bock Lager – WLP833 (White Labs)
Last but not least, the water. For all beers I brew, I use a reverse osmosis filtration system and build up my water profile from scratch. My water profile looked like this:
- Calcium: 50 ppm
- Sodium: 15 ppm
- Sulfates: 75 ppm
- Chloride: 65 ppm
The following is a 5-gallon version of a Vienna lager. The numbers for this beer are listed below.
- Original Gravity: 1.050
- Final Gravity: 1.010 – 1.014
- Alcohol by Volume: 5.0%
- Bitterness: 24.2 IBU
- Color (SRM): 12.5
- Munich Malt – 4 lbs 8 oz (46.6%)
- Vienna Malt – 4 lbs 8 oz (46.6%)
- Melanoidin Malt – 8 oz (5.2%)
- Carafa Special II – 2.4 oz (1.6%)
The Munich and Vienna malts build up that bready, toasty base. The melanoidin malt accentuates the malty character, especially since we will be doing a single infusion mash. There is just enough Carafa Special II to bump up the color and add a touch of complexity but will not add any harsh roasty flavors.
1.75 oz of Mittelfruh at 60 minutes (24.2 IBU)
Hella Bock Lager – 2487-PC (Wyeast)
Add your salts and pH adjustment, if needed, and fill your mash tun to the required volume and temperature for your mash to drop to 152 degrees Fahrenheit. For me, the strike water was 3 gallons at 163 degrees Fahrenheit. After 60 minutes, raise your mash temperature to 168 degrees for mash out. After mashing out, begin to sparge until you reach a pre-boil gravity of around 1.044. For me, it was 4.9 gallons.
Boil the wort for 90 minutes and add the hops in at 60 minutes. At 10 minutes, I added a yeast nutrient, and at 5 minutes I added whirlfloc tablets as my clarifying agent. Once the boil is complete, whirlpool the wort for 10 minutes and then let it wind down for 10 minutes.
Knock the wort out in your heat exchanger so that the pitching temperature is 52 degrees and measure the gravity/pitch the yeast. Make sure to adequately oxygenate your wort due to the lower fermentation temperature. Initial gravity should be around 1.050. I let this free rise to 54 degrees as fermentation starts. Hold the temperature at 54 degrees for 5-7 days until the primary fermentation starts to slow down, and then let the temperature free-rise up to at least 65 degrees. Hold it here for about a week to make sure fermentation completely finishes. After a week, lower the temperature by 4 degrees a day until you reach 33 degrees. Once you reach 33 degrees, hold it for at least a day and then transfer it to the brite tank to carbonate it to 2.6 vols. After 3 days in the brite tank, keg it, lager it for at least 12 weeks, and enjoy!
If you decide to try this recipe or another Vienna lager recipe, feel free to send us a comment and let us know how it went! And if you want to see more recipes like this, sign up for our newsletter below to be notified when a new post is released. Cheers!