Cerveza Más Intresante Del Mundo • Illustration by David Witt

What would happen if you transplanted the dry-yet-malty amber lagers of Vienna to the Americas and rebuilt the bulk of them with some New World raw materials? Immigrant brewers of the 19th century found that out when they relocated to Mexico from Austria and brought their brewing traditions with them.

Those brewers from over a hundred years ago gave birth to a family of copper-colored lagers which, these days, are a mainstay of Cinco de Mayo parties north of the border. Unlike their Viennese ancestors, these international amber lagers are often brewed with adjuncts for color and flavor, and feature much lower hop character. Not that this is a bad thing when you’re trying to bust open a piñata or maintain structural integrity on a tostada.

Find more great recipes in Mashmaker

This Vienna lager is one of 64 original, witty all-grain homebrewing recipes found in Michael Dawson’s quintessential Mashmaker: A Citizen’s Guide to Brewing Great Beer at Home. Purchase an e-book version of Mashmaker today for just $15 and start your homebrewing adventure.

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Note: These steps are general guidelines and assume you’re already familiar with the all-grain brewing process—refer to the instructions for your brew system, and adjust as needed based on experience with your own particular equipment.

Except where noted, the recipes in this book are formulated for 5-gallon (19-liter) all-grain batches, calculated at 75% mash efficiency.

Targets: OG: 1.048, IBU: 16–18, SRM: 7, ABV: 4.8%

SHOPPING LIST

GRAIN: 

  • 6 lbs. Rahr 2-Row
  • 1.5 lbs. Weyermann Vienna
  • 1 lb. flaked maize
  • 6 oz. Patagonia Caramel 90L

HOPS:

  • 1.25 oz. German Select

YEAST:

  • Wyeast 2124, White Labs WLP830, or Saflager W-34/70

KEY POINTS FOR KEY PINTS:

Dark caramel malt and corn: Where a continental Vienna lager would rely solely on its eponymous base malt for color and flavor, its descendants in the Americas make use of caramel malts and native unmalted adjuncts. Just a little bit of 90L malt will give us a pale amber wort with tones of toffee and dark fruit, while a modest inclusion of corn will deescalate malt flavor and keep the body light.

The most interesting lager yeast in the world: The Weihenstephaner 34/70 is reportedly the most widely-used lager strain the world over, which puts it in the running for most-used beer yeast, period. It’s attenuative, it emphasizes malt but doesn’t bury hop character, and it’s pretty easy to work with.

Fermentation for low flavor: As with many lagers, the compounds produced by stressed yeast cells or warm fermentation temps will stand out like a sore thumb. Propagating a yeast starter, thoroughly oxygenating the cooled wort before pitching yeast, and managing temps during primary fermentation will help produce a nice, clean flavor profile.

BREWING:

PREP

  • Make a starter culture 24–36 hours before brew day.
  • Mill the grains, then heat strike water to approximately 164°F.

MASH & SPARGE

  • Mash: 152°F for 60 minutes. Collect and heat sparge water.
  • Mashout: 170°F for 5 minutes.
  • Sparge and collect wort in boil kettle.

BOIL (60 minutes)

  • T-60: 1 oz. Select.
  • T-15: 0.25 oz. Select.
  • T-0: Cool the wort, transfer to a sanitized fermentor, aerate well, and pitch yeast.

FERMENTATION AND BEYOND

  • Primary fermentation: 50–55°F for approximately 12–14 days; when fermentation activity begins to slow, warm to 60°F for an additional 2–3 days.
  • Secondaryfermentation: 34–38°F for 3–4 weeks.
  • Serving: Schooner, Los Lobos, piñata and/or tostadas.