I have a confession: I'm loving homebrew lagers.
After much trepidation, anticipation and eagerness, I have finally brewed my first Vienna lager. As I mentioned in my brew-day post here, I have always wanted to try a Vienna lager. The flavor descriptions for this style sound mouth watering: malt-centered, toasty, fairly dry. Brewing this beer also gives me the opportunity to play more with lager yeast and fermentation temperatures. I've really begun to enjoy making lagers due to the fact that they present a difference in techniques, ingredients, and results. I wouldn't say they're that much more complicated than ales as long as you follow the basic guidelines: ferment cold, diacetyl rest as fermentation is dying down, lager until clear and sulfur dissipates, then bottle or keg. The big breath-holder for me about this beer was that the ingredients were expensive this time around. My LHBS charges Vienna and MO as specialty malts instead of base malts, so for MO I usually try to emulate with a bit of amber malt in the grain bill, but for this beer I really wanted to see the difference that Vienna malt makes.
Here are my tasting notes for this much anticipated (by me) beer.
Appearance: Red-amber colour, very clear, persistant white head that leaves great lacing on the glass.
Aroma: Very malty, no hops aroma. Seems a bit sulfury, but that dissipates in the first few minutes.
Flavor: Malt all the way down! A little bit of a toasted malt kind of flavor that is more sweet than amber malt would be. Slight bitterness in the finish, but it still ends with a sweet note - not cloying. Hint of sulfur.
Mouthfeel: Medium body, medium carbonation, silky mouthfeel. Touch of bitterness at end, finishes a tad sweet, but still crisp - no lingering sweetness.
Overall: I thoroughly enjoy this beer for what it ended up being. I think that ideally I should have rested it longer to make sure the sulfur aged out, but I rushed it a bit instead. The sulfur seemed to go away as the beer sat in the bottles, but every once in a while I can notice it. While the beer was delicious, I didn't actually think the Vienna malt made it that much more special. In my next lager, I will be letting it rest longer to allow the sulfur to dissipate. If I brewed something close to this style again I would probably increase the hops a bit for more bitterness, and eliminate the crystal malt entirely. I think maybe I will try to make a kick-ass lagered Irish red in the place of this style next time. Also, I think I would prefer a bit of Munich malt in here as in an oktoberfest beer.