Going to Austria wasn't in my original plans for traveling, it just happened to come in to my life. I made a random booking for Vienna where just so happened my friend Liam was there to, stopping for a few nights before making his was to Budapest.
I am so glad that I got the opportunity to come to Vienna because I have been blessed with the brewing gods and was in contact with 3 different brewers from 3 different breweries here.
It just so happened that 1516 Brewing Company basically brews every day and so it was easy for me to come in anytime for a brew.
Andreas, the head brewer at 1516, was the one who replied to the email I had sent out asking if I can sit in on a brew/help a little.
Liam wasn't with me at this point as he had to make his way out to Budapest. I wish he could have been though as he is a brewer as well, but it was still awesome!
I arrive at the brewery at 9am after having to walk two miles down the main strip in Vienna at 8am where I grabbed a cappuccino and a chocolate croissant .
My hands got numb from holding the coffee in the below freezing temperatures as I was walking.
At 9am there was already about 5 employees working at the brewery/restaurant and one of them went downstairs to the brewhouse to get the head brewer Andreas. He shows up and we shake hands and introduce ourselves.
He then takes me behind the bar, through the small kitchen, through a door, downstairs to the small brewhouse. The brewhouse couldn't have been more than 1,000 sq/ft downstairs with about 15 (7bbl) stainless steel conical fermentors, and about 8 horizontal brite tanks for serving directly to the taps upstairs.
He was in the middle of milling the grain so he takes me to the separate grain room (for safety reasons) and I see all of the Weyerman Pils malt he is crushing.
For the 7bbl batch of traditional Austrian Witbeer that we were brewing he used 8 bags of pilsner malt. After the grain was milled he and the assistant brewer lugged the bags upstairs to the mash tun/kettle and the lauter tun.
After he poured me a sample of a pale ale that they had previously brewed, we head upstairs to mash in.
The mash tun had a steam jacket on it so that it could heat up, allowing the use of a decauction mash if necessary. I had never done a decauction mash in my life and was very curious about it. Since this was a traditional Witbeer we were going to be doing that decauction mash.
When Andreas was describing what happens in the decauction mahs process I was a little confused, but after seeing it with my own two eyes it made a lot more since and wasn't very confusing anymore.
The decauction mash was an hour and ten minute long mash that raised in temperatures a total of 5 different times at specific intervals, exchanging different reactions in the malt, emphasizing a more malty grain bill as it hits the Beta and Alpha Amalyse from the malt at different points. The first temperature was 125 degrees Fahrenheit for one minute, next was 128 for 9 min, then 144 for 30 minutes, then 154 for 20 minutes, then 161 for 10 minutes. At this point he will start to transfer the mash, that was constantly being circulated, faster pace in begenning to very slow pace/stop at the end of the mash, over to the lauter tun.
About 1/4 to 1/3 of the way through the transfer, the malt and the wort will begin to boil for at most 10 minutes (something I have never done either).
Once the transfer is complete and the recirculation of the wort in the lauter tun is complete, we now have clear wort that we will transfer back over the the mash tun/kettle.
After a few hours, the wort was up to boil and he boiled the wort for 70 minutes, ran it through a different whirlpool vessel, then down a hard line through a heat exchanger in to the already sanitized fermentor downstairs. Pitched the enaculated yeast and called it a day. He used three different types of yeast, one of which was Citra for aroma towards the end of the boil.
This was one of the more interesting brews I have ever done, learning all about traditional German/Austrian brewing techniques and processes.
The system was a 7bbl system that was, for the most part, run by a machine/software. Lots of button pushing and automation.
During the whole brew we had a lot of time to share stories, test beers he had brewed, and learn about each-others brews.
After the initial pale ale at 9:45am, we went to try an altbier he brewed but was more like a brown ale, a little dull but still very clean.
Next we sampled a (not dry hopped yet) NEIPA that had great color/haze but being an expert in the NEIPA field, not juicy enough for me. It was a little too dry and bitter but I could have guessed that when he told me they used Safale-05 (California Ale yeast) for that brew. Hopefully the dry hopping will add some juiciness to the NEIPA. Next we tried a special 7 month ages IPA out of a little cask system that was so good! This was my favorite beer we tried this day.
The "aging" gave it a sort of honey flavor/smell that counteracted so well with the bitterness of the IPA. I went back for seconds on that one! The last beer we tried was a 6.8, 150 IBU, IPA that was a clone of a previous batch they had brewed with Victory Brewing Company, who is based out of the United States and was a close second place to the other, honey IPA.
Not as clear, not as light in color and a little more crisp bitterness but no harsh bitterness.
They played music like Metallica and AC/DC in the brewpub, you were able to smoke cigarettes, the employees were all so awesome and chill as well. I received a free bowl of garlic cream soup that was so good!
They had 15 employees working in the restaurant and only 2 full time, 40 hr/wk employees working in the beer production. They don't really distribute their beer, maybe a few accounts Andreas said, but that's not how they make their money. They are brewing 4-5 days a week and he told me their biggest production brew was their Helles, a lighter lager. They would go through 7bbls of the Helles in a matter of 3 days. That's a lot of beer being distributed to customers ONLY out of the brewpup!
I walked by the brewery two nights prior to the brew and couldn't even order a beer because it was so packed!
I've learned so much from this brew with Andreas and his brewing techniques. They were the most hospitable people and would recommend this brewpub to anyone who gets the opportunity to go to Vienna and likes good, mostly traditional, beers!
I couldn't thank these guys enough and I look forward to the next beer I get to brew with them!