Vienna Lager

A New Year, A New Batch

Greetings dear readers! Though it has been a while since I reported on a batch, it doesn't mean that I haven't continued my brewing efforts. Since I last talked about making the Continental Pilsner, I've also made a Scottish Ale and a Dunkelweizen. Since I've brewed one before and the other was quick and simple, I didn't put them up. However, it's a new year, and that means new beer. It's been too long since I updated this portion of the website, so I wanted to tell y'all about what I'm working on now.

Brew Day (15Feb16)

I've made a few improvements to my brewing process since we last chatted. The most significant is that I've done a little plumbing work. You see, many brewing instruments (such as the ever important wort chiller) have hose thread connections for their attachments. While there are adapters you can swap out for your sink's aerator, my particular sink does not have that compatability. So up until now I was forced to run a garden hose from outside, through my backdoor, and into my kitchen. Before I got kittens, it was just inconvenient. Now, it's an escape attempt waiting to happen.

However that's something that can be fixed by a trip to Home Depot and about $30 in hardware. Recently, I installed a T-junction above the cold water valve that's allowed me to run a dishwasher hot water supply line to an adapter, and on to a garden hose valve/spigot. This means that I can leave the line coiled under the sink when it is not needed, and when I want to use it, pull it out to hook up to a bottle cleaner, wort chiller, or whatever. It is SUPER convenient, especially when compared to a garden hose.

But, on to beer. I let my girlfriend pick this kit out. She has good taste! I've never worked with this particular style of lager before, but the process is remarkably similar for those who have followed my past brews (or to anyone who wants to read the quick and dirty how-to brew).

The brew day went remarkably smoothly. The only hitch was that the specific gravity of the wort came out to be about 1.040, when it was supposed to be over 1.045. Oh well, all that means is that I added too much water and the beer won't have as high of an ABV as it could've. Which is fine. That way, I can drink more beer in a single go!

Now, it's a waiting game while the yeast cells do their work, first reproducing and then madly converting sugars into ethanol and esters.

Checking on the Yeast (17Feb16)

It's been a couple days, and I wanted to see if the yeast were surviving. I noticed that the freezer was a bit cool (51 degF), so I bumped up the controller a few degrees. The airlock wasn't bubbling actively yet, but that isn't abnormal in my experience. It could be that this particular yeast is slow to start the fermentation process. It could also be that the yeast doesn't produce a ton of CO2 or that there is a leak in the bucket somewhere that is letting CO2 out somewhere other than the airlock. Who knows. Either way, the lid of the bucket was bowed out a little bit (a sign of higher pressure in the bucket than outside), and when I pressed down on the lid the airlock bounced, so I know the yeast are doing something (else wise there wouldn't be enough pressure to make that happen). All I can do at this point is wait.

Racking Over the Beer (03Mar16)

Well, I didn't see any bubbling in the airlock the whole time I was fermenting, so I left it for a few extra days. To confirm fermentation, I took the specific gravity of the beer as I racked it over and found that it had dropped down to 1.008. That's great! Beer's specific gravity should drop as more alcohol is introduced into the system. I'll have to take the the gravity again when I'm done with the secondary fermentation. It also tasted pretty good! I was able to move the beer over to the glass carboy without any problems or drama, so now it's back into the brewing freezer for the lagering process.

Next Step: Lagering

Not really next. More like "In Progress." I'll use the temperature controller to slowly turn down the temperature (1 - 3 degrees F per day) until we get to the low 40's. This should take us into the middle of March. Stay tuned!


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