This style was once the style “a la mode” in Vienna at the turn of the 19th century. Then it fell from fashion and left Europe for the warmer climate of Mexico. Today, there are a number of “Vienna” lagers. I especially like Dos Equis, but with the growth of the specialty beer market it may not hold its special place for long.

The Brewers Association (US) offers the following style parameters:

Vienna-Style Lager:

“Beers in this category are reddish brown or copper colored. They are medium in body.”

“The malt aroma and flavor should have a notable degree of toasted and/or slightly roasted malt character.”

“Noble-type hop aromas and flavors should be low or mild.”

“Original Gravity (ºPlato): 1.046-1.056 (11.5 -14 ºPlato)

Apparent Extract/Final Gravity (ºPlato): 1.012-1.018 (3-4.5 ºPlato)

Alcohol by Weight (Volume): 3.8-4.3% (4.8-5.4%)

Bitterness (IBU): 22-28

Color SRM (EBC): 10-12 (20-24 EBC)”

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The BJCP offers the following style parameters:

3A. Vienna Lager

Aroma: “A light toasted malt aroma may be present.  Similar, though less intense than Oktoberfest…”

“Caramel aroma is inappropriate.”

Appearance: “Light reddish amber to copper color…  Large, off-white, persistent head.”

Flavor: “Soft, elegant malt complexity…  Some toasted character from the use of Vienna malt.”

Mouthfeel: “Medium-light to medium body, with a gentle creaminess.”

History: “The original amber lager developed by Anton Dreher shortly after the isolation of lager yeast.  Nearly extinct in its area of origin, the style continues in Mexico where it was brought by Santiago Graf and other Austrian immigrant brewers in the late 1800s.”

Ingredients: “Vienna malt provides a lightly toasty and complex, melanoidin-rich malt profile… Can use some caramel malts and/or darker malts to add color and sweetness, but caramel malts shouldn’t add significant aroma and flavor and dark malts shouldn’t provide any roasted character.”

Vital Statistics:

“Original Gravity:  1.046 – 1.052

Final Gravity:  1.010 – 1.014

International Bittering Units:  18 – 30

Alcohol By Volumn:  4.5 – 5.7%”

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Commercial Examples:

Great Lakes Eliot Ness (unusual in its 6.2% strength and 35 IBUs)

Gösser Dark

Noche Buena

Negra Modelo

Samuel Adams Vienna Style Lager

Old Dominion Aviator Amber Lager

Capital Wisconsin Amber