Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Vienna Golden

For two reasons, in late April I realized it was time to brew something light and simple. One: the Columbia summer can get blazingly hot; even Natty Light doesn't do the trick all the time. And two: I had lots of folks (out-of-towners included) headed my way for a big party, so something more "agreeable" to mainstream palates was in order.

I settled on what you'd classify as a Blonde Ale. The recipe:

OG 1.054 FG 1.009
ABV 5.9% AA 83.3%
IBUs 22 SRM 6

100% Pacific Northwest Vienna

17.6 IBUs Magnum – 60 mins.
0.25 oz. Mt. Hood – 20 mins.
0.25 oz. Mt. Hood – 10 mins.

US-05 Chico yeast

Mashed at 149 degrees; fermented at ~60 degrees for seven days. The beer was then kegged.

I went with all Vienna malt to get a little more malty complexity than simple two-row pale would offer. Besides, no better way to get to know an ingredient than to feature it exclusively, and I had recently bought a sack of Vienna.

The calendar was not my friend – party guests were bearing down – and hence this beer was rushed through primary, through cold-conditioning, through carbonating and hastily offered up on tap. As a consequence, it was pretty green off the bat, especially considering the higher-than-expected original gravity and alcohol content (I was anticipating a lower mash efficiency; and how about that attenuation).

Two and a half months since it was rushed to the keg, the Vienna Golden is, happily, doing better.

It pours a clear deep golden color with a white, fleeting head. As with other light beers I've brewed, I'm pleased with the clarity I get from nothing more than whirlfloc (when I can remember to add it – I don't know if I did for this batch or not) and cold-conditioning. The beer is clear enough to read through.

On the nose, faint esters and a touch of cracker malt. It's not entirely as clean as I might prefer in this kind of beer, but on the other hand extra fermentables plus ale yeast are liable to do that for you.

The flavor is crisp, with notes of fruity/rosy esters plus a pale maltiness. Again, it's fruitier than I like my blonde summer quaffers to be, even though, yes, it's an ale. But I've had cleaner-fermented ales in my day. The body is medium with a smooth bitterness that lasts through a dry finish into the aftertaste, where a gentle lingering bitterness predominates.

Lessons learned? Don't get bamboolzed again on mash efficiency, and plan far enough ahead to let the sucker clean itself up and mature properly prior to packaging and serving. Something tells me the Columbia heat will offer plenty of chances for another crack.

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