Wednesday, May 28, 2014

RECIPE: #63 Hey, You Made It (Vienna Lager)

Lagers.  It is a love hate relationship.  I used to hate them.  Then I made a couple, and they turned out very well, even taking home some medals.  They tend to go through stages.  At first they are meh, it's clean and wet.  Then they peak and you realize you don't have much left.  Then it either dissapears in the middle of its glory like my Pilsner, or I hold onto it long enough that it shows age and becomes nothing but a bland cooking medium at best like my CAP from last Summer.  They are not my favorite styles of beer, and I would much rather drink a Saison, Wit, German Hefe, or Sour on a hot Summer night over a Pils, but there is still something beautiful about a perfectly brewed and poured lager.  As I stated at the beginning of the year, I am out to win competitions this year, including Club Only Comps for our brew club.  The 4 medals and Best of Show in February set me on the course for accomplishing this, but I still need to get in on our COC comps.  The next one is lagers, so I wanted to get at least one beer in there.

I will admit that I enjoy having a Negro Modelo when out at a Mexican restaurant.  I don't want 5 gallons of Mexican Adjunct Lager, but 5 gallons of a toasty, clean, light, balanced, true Vienna Lager sounds nice.  Seeing as I can't really find any real Vienna Lagers fresh and local, I set out to brew one.  Of course I used almost all Vienna Malt with a touch of Carafa III Special for some color, bittered with Magnum, and finished with a touch of Cerara hops which are Saaz like with earth and cinnamon.  If you haven't caught on yet I don't like wasting time, energy, and money on things I don't have to, so if I can get a fresh, healthy, active, large pitch of yeast from a brewery instead of making a big multi-step starter, I will hit the brewery for free yeast.  This time, that almost back fired.  I walked out of the brewery with a darkish, almost like greyish peanut-butter (same thickness too) glob of slurry in my pint jar.  It didn't look right.  It didn't look fresh and healthy.  On brew day I smelled it and nothing was off-putting, so I pitched it.  3 days later there was still no activity at all.  I went back to the brewery with a quart jar and explained the situation and a brewer came off lunch to get me a huge, fresh, healthy, creamy pitch.  I rushed it home, pitched it, and took a sample of the wort which had not moved gravity wise and, thank God, had no off flavors.  A day-and-a-half later I had a thick krausen and good fermentation.  I think I must have gotten either the wrong yeast pitch (so it was too cold to go active) or a mix of trub and dead yeast on that first pitch.

On this one I went a little faster than I have in the past due to the long lag, starting at 54, then moving it up to 68*F in under a week for a D-rest, then dropping the temp to lager 1 week and 1 day after the krausen kicked up.  Usually at this point I would be bumping up the temp for the first time only a few degrees.

Gallons: 5.00
OG: 1.048
FG: 1.010
ABV: 4.9%
IBUs: 21
SRM: 11
Efficiency: 78%
8.50# Vienna Malt (98.3%)
0.15# Carafa Special III (1.7%)
Mash 10 hours @ 150*F
Boil 30 mins:
 30 mins 0.60 oz Magnum 16.40%AA
 25 mins 0.60 oz Cerara 5.50%AA
 5   mins 0.60 oz Cerara 5.50%AA
Kettle Additions:
Gypsum: Mash 1/2 tsp; Sparge 1/2 tsp
Epsom Salts: Mash 1/16 tsp; Sparge 1/16 tsp
Calcium Chloride: Mash 5/16 tsp; Sparge 5/16 tsp
Lactic Acid: Sparge 0.55 ml
Yeast Nutrient: 2 taps
Whirfloc: 1 each
Cooled to: 52*F
WLP838 Southern German (Ninkasi Slurry)
52*F 4 days
55*F 6 days
68*F 3 days
40*F 4 days
40*F 14 days

5/3 Brewed Alone.  Mashed in total grsit for both beers at 150*F at 8:30am.  Wrapped in heating blanket (turned off) and sleeping bag.  Left for birthday party.  Returned to brew at 5pm, temp had dropped to 138*F.  Sparged and collected 12 gallons total.  Split full volume to 2 kettles, 6 gallons each.  Began separate 30 minute boils, adding hops according to recipe.  Added finishing hops and chilled to 62*F and transferred via pump into 6 gallon Better Bottle.  Ended up with 4.6 gallons of 1.052 wort, so I added fresh distilled water to bring up to 5 gallons at 1.048.  Placed in fridge at 7:00pm and chilled down to 52*F.  Pitched yeast slurry from Ninkasi around 10:15pm, smelled not as yeasty as I thought, dark, thick, didn't look like a fresh yeast pitch.  Set fridge to 50*F.

5/4 No signs of fermentation.  Got a small pitch of lager yeast from Stephen off his Maibock.

5/5 Still no signs of fermentation.  Chatting with Jamie Floyd of Ninkasi about the beer via text.

5/6 Still no signs.  Rushed to Ninkasi on lunch for a fresh pitch in a quart jar.  Very active, fresh, creamy, beige, looks great.  Rushed home and pitched into fermentor.  Took sample, no movement in gravity, still 1.048, no off flavors.  Set to 54*F to encourage a quicker start.

5/7 Activity by bed time, bubbles in airlock and patches of yeast foam on top.

5/8 Krausen forming nicely in the morning.  Full krausen and fermentation that afternoon.

5/12 Pumped up to 55*F in the AM, up to 58*F in the PM.

5/13 Krausen falling, pumped up to 68*F in the afternoon to finish strong and do a Diacetyl Rest.  Took sample, down to 1.014, yeasty, clean, light sulfur, a little fruity (acetaldehyde maybe?), no off flavors.

5/16 Covered airlock with sanitized Saran Wrap with rubberband to keep O2 out; crashed to 40*F for the weekend while gone on the Youth Retreat.

5/18 Attempted to CO2 force rack over to the keg but about 1 pint into transfer the CO2 died.  Had to dump the pint and reseal the fermentor until CO2 refilled.

5/19 CO2 racked to keg, placed in beer fridge to lager and carbonate.

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