Double brew day today, a beer and a wine. The beer is one I’m toying with, the start of a recipe I think I’d like to perfect. Vienna Lager was once popular in, you guessed it, Vienna. The light lager movement, pilsners, pretty much made it extinct in its homeland. But some Viennese brewers found their way to Mexico so today if you drink a Negra Modello, you’re drinking the descendent of beer Mozart might have quaffed. If Mozart ever quaffed a beer, which, given his personality and the state of the Danube in the eighteenth century, was highly likely. If they made lagers back then before commercial refrigeration, which we know they did….
Digression. I used the simplest of recipes: 11 pounds of Vienna Malt, three additions of Saaz hops at 90 minutes, 20 minutes and 10 minutes for a total of 27 IBU, salts appropriate to my water and the color of the wort, White Labs Oktoberfest yeast. Apparently the mill at the LHBS isn’t quite set correctly – I can’t get anything I mill on mill #1 to lauter cleanly. Lots of chunks of grain, flour, so this time I used a single knee-high nylon stocking to catch the crumbs. Some of the flour got out but it looked like it got bound up in the hot break, the final wort was crystal clear. I also discovered I’d been calculating my water incorrectly. I had about a gallon of wort left over in the grains. I also ended up extending the boil. My new burner, wind shielded, lets me boil less vigorously than I have. I get a better hot break but less evaporation. Haven’t found the factor yet, will have to test….
We stirred up a Valpolicella as well. It’s a light Italian red blend, a perfect red for a plate of spaghetti on a hot summer day, not heavy, not intensely oaky, fruity and refreshing. We modified the kit instructions though. Looking for a 12 percent final wine, we took a projected final gravity of 0.996, used the conversion factor abv/131.25 yields the number of gravity points required, added in the four for below zero to calculate our starting gravity of 1.088. It was less volume than the instructions called for by a half-gallon. We also modify fermentation instructions. The instructions are to make a drinkable wine in four weeks. We’re not in that kind of hurry. We ferment cooler and slower, approx. 65 degrees in this case, let everything set at least twice as long as the instructions suggest. The result is a much better wine. One we will enjoy drinking this summer when it’s warm.