The reponse to yesterday's post about British lager was so overwhelming I've decided to stick with the theme. The lager bit, that is. If you've bothered to read the title you'll have realised that I've moved the location to the east.
Austria. That's where I'm looking at today. Austria (which at the time included Bohemia and Moravia) played an important role in the development of bottom-fermenting beers. The samples were taken in Vienna in the 1870's. I don't think the locals could have complained about lack of variety. There are beers from all over Austria-Hungary and from Bavaria.
What interests me most about these analyses are the inclusion of a number for the beer's colour. I'll be honest with you. I haven't the foggiest idea what scale they are using. But fortunately there are a couple of points of reference. Salvator and Porter both have a colour of around 40. We can assume that's pretty dark brown. The palest beer is Pilsner Urquell with 3.5. I can't imagine that Pilsner Urquell has got darker over the years, so I'll take 3.5 as being a golden colour. An English is 10 and Munich Bocks around 15. I'll interpret those as dark amber and pale brown.
Now we've got some idea of what the colour scale is, we can look more closely at the individual beers. Most are in the range 4 to 7. I reckon that makes them between golden and pale amber. Most modern pilsners would be, I reckon, between 2 and 3 on this scale.
But I'm most interested in the Viennese beers. This is the supposed heyday of "Vienna Lager". Now what colour would you expect them to be?
I've just had a look at the bjcp pages. I know, I shouldn't do it. It isn't good for my blood pressure. What I noticed is that the scale used in these analyses bears a remarkable similarity to SRM. That's very convenient. It saves me a lot of messing around.
Now my mates at the bjcp reckon that the colour of a Vienna lager should be in the range 10 - 16 SRM and a Pilsner 2 - 5. That's very intersting. Pretty well all the beers in the table fall in the range 4 - 7. The Bohemian beers (Jaroschau, Napagedl, Leitmeritz, Pardubitz, Medleschitz) are mostly the palest, but are at the upper end of the Pilsner colour range (3.5 to 4.8). The Viennese beers - Schwechater and Dreher, for example - are 6 to 7. Right at the pale end of amber.
I haven't explained myself very well, have I? These are my conclusions: the Vienna beers are paler than I would have expected, the Bohemian beers a bit darker. Rather than there being a strict division between amber and pale, there's a continuum from gold to pale amber. Put simply, Vienna lagers don't seem to have been as dark as we've been told.
(I'll try to improve the quality of my writing tomoroow. This post's been a bit clumsy and incoherent. My apolgies.)
The figures come from the book "Theory and Practice of the Preparation of Malt and the Fabrication of Beer" by Julius E. Thausing, Anton Schwartz and A.H. Bauer, Philadelphia 1882, pages 748-751.
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