From the HBD Archive
From: (George J Fix)
Subject: unknown
Date: 1992-04-21 20:09:02 GMT

Subject: Vienna recipes (George Fix)

Laurie and I would like to thank Craig Olzenak for his kind comments
about our book. After a initial trimming of potential recipes we
decided to go with whatever formulations did the best in sanctioned
competitions, independent of our personal preferences. There were no
conflicts with the standard Vienna, and it is the formulation that
won 1st in the '87 nationals. It also won best of show in the EHA
competition in New Orleans of that year. It has also proven to be
quite serviceable for the most important use of homebrew, namely as
a beer to have on hand for visitors and special social events.

We started to "debug" the festival beer (Marzen/Oktoberfest) in '88, and
this one caused us considerable grief. The first version, still our favorite,
used the recipe on page 57 except 120 degree caramel malt was used instead
of the 20 degree. We share Craig's love of the dark malt flavors! However
and alas, the version was clobbered in competitions. Typical comments
included "way too big for style", "dark malt flavors are overpowering",
and in Texas competitions (Dixie Cup) it was criticized for being
underhopped. The latter is a predictable regional response, but one
with some validity. We tried a lot of different things including different
yeast strains and higher hopping rates, but the overall performance was
generally poor. In 1990 we started cutting back on the dark malt
profile, and in particular started using the 20 degree malt. We also
started using English caramel malt exclusively. The effect of these two
changes was dramatic. It won 1st place in the 1990 LA Fair, the 1990
Riverside Cal Fair, the 1990 Dixie Cup, and the 1991 Bidal Society
Comp. in Wisc. It was also entered in the New England conf., however
that one was sharply marked down for being overhopped. The last time it
was entered was the 1991 nationals where it won 3rd place. The two beers
that came in front of it were in the standard Vienna motif, and it
has been our experience that this version (SG=1.050-1.055) will generally
do better than the festbier (SG=1.060-1.063). All of the commercial
"Oktoberfests" available in the US fall into the lower part of the first
gravity range, and apparently most judges not to mention basic beer drinkers
have grown accustomed to the lower gravity versions, although a SG in the
range 1.050-1.055 is hardly a weak beer.

P.S. Those going to the microbrewer's conference next week in Milwaukee
should stop by the Brewers Research and Development Co.'s booth and say hello.
There will be some exciting new equipment on display. JV Northwest and Pub
Systems can be counted on to display some interesting things as well. All of
this should give one an indication of the striking technological revolution
that has been taking place these last few years vis a vis equipment for small
scale brewing.

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