Vienna Lagers - Barrel to Bottle Samples the New Craft Beer Hotness

Usually, the beer styles near and dear to Roger’s heart get no love. That’s not the case this week, as we delve into Vienna Lagers. Over the last few years, several local breweries have added Vienna Lagers to their line-ups. There are also some craft stalwarts that you might not have even realized were Vienna Lagers.

If you’re a fan of Oktoberfest beers, and want them year-round, you’ll love Vienna Lagers. Viennas and Märzens were created at essentially at the same time, by a pair of friends who engaged in a little industrial espionage.

The first beer is Ottakringer, which is the first Vienna Lager from Vienna that Binny’s has carried in quite some time. Vienna Lagers tend to be more of a reddish color, so it’s surprising to see that this one is more of a burnished gold.

Vienna Lager is a great Swiss Army knife beer for food pairings. Brooklyn Brewery’s Garrett Oliver believes you can pair it with just about any food, which is probably why he modeled their flagship beer after Vienna Lagers.

Small, local breweries are the ones making most of the Vienna Lagers now. Dovetail, Goldfinger and Pollyanna are three local breweries making Vienna Lagers on a regular basis. Goldfinger goes through the lengthy and involved double decoction method, which is rare these days.

Sam Adams Boston Lager is a Vienna Lager but never really billed itself as that. On the other hand, Great Lakes’ Eliot Ness was unabashedly inspired by Vienna Lagers. But it’s also an Americanized version, full of American hops.

One of the odd things about Vienna Lagers is that they really caught on in Mexico. A lot of the iconic examples are from Mexico, such as Victoria and Dos Equis. Brewers either immigrated directly from Europe or came to the US and learned brewing, then went to Mexico.

Bringing it full circle, Spaten’s Ur Märzen which was the original Märzen Oktoberfest beer. Spaten’s brewer was one of the two industrial spies who created this style along with the Vienna Lager style.

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