Style Details

Vien­na Lager
Amber Bit­ter Euro­pean Beer
BJCP Style Code
7 A
Light red­dish amber to cop­per color. Bright cla­ri­ty. Lar­ge, off-white, per­sis­tent head.
Modera­te­ly-inten­se malt aro­ma, with toasty and mal­ty-rich aro­ma­tics. Clean lager cha­rac­ter. Flo­ral, spi­cy hop aro­ma may be low to none. A signi­fi­cant cara­mel or roas­ted aro­ma is inappropriate.
Soft, ele­gant malt com­ple­xi­ty is in the fore­front, with a firm enough hop bit­ter­ness to pro­vi­de a balan­ced finish. The malt fla­vor tends towards a rich, toasty cha­rac­ter, wit­hout signi­fi­cant cara­mel or roast fla­vors. Fair­ly dry, crisp finish, with both rich malt and hop bit­ter­ness pre­sent in the after­tas­te. Flo­ral, spi­cy hop fla­vor may be low to none. Clean lager fer­men­ta­ti­on character.
Medi­um-light to medi­um body, with a gent­le cre­a­mi­ness. Mode­ra­te car­bo­na­ti­on. Smooth. 
Over­all Impression
A mode­ra­te-strength amber lager with a soft, smooth mal­ti­ness and mode­ra­te bit­ter­ness, yet finis­hing rela­tively dry. The malt fla­vor is clean, brea­dy-rich, and some­what toasty, with an ele­gant impres­si­on deri­ved from qua­li­ty base malts and pro­cess, not spe­cial­ty malts and adjuncts.
Typi­cal Ingredients
Vien­na malt pro­vi­des a light­ly toasty and com­plex, Mail­lard-rich malt pro­fi­le. As with Märzens, only the finest qua­li­ty malt should be used, along with Con­ti­nen­tal hops (pre­fer­a­b­ly Saa­zer types or Sty­ri­ans). 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.
Deve­lo­ped by Anton Dre­her in Vien­na in 1841, beca­me popu­lar in the mid-late 1800s. Now 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. Authen­tic examp­les are incre­asing­ly hard to find (except per­haps in the craft beer indus­try) as form­er­ly good examp­les beco­me swee­ter and use more adjuncts.
A stan­dard-strength ever­y­day beer, not a beer bre­wed for fes­ti­vals. Ame­ri­can ver­si­ons can be a bit stron­ger, drier and more bit­ter, while modern Euro­pean ver­si­ons tend to be swee­ter. Many Mexi­can amber and dark lagers used to be more authen­tic, but unfort­u­na­te­ly are now more like sweet, adjunct-laden Amber/Dark Inter­na­tio­nal Lagers. Reg­rett­ab­ly, many modern examp­les use adjuncts which les­sen the rich malt com­ple­xi­ty cha­rac­te­ristic of the best examp­les of this style. This style is on the watch list to move to the His­to­ri­cal cate­go­ry in future gui­de­lines; that would allow the clas­sic style to be descri­bed while moving the swee­ter modern ver­si­ons to the Inter­na­tio­nal Amber or Dark Lager styles.
Com­mer­cial Examples
Cuauh­té­moc Noche Bue­na, Chuck­anut Vien­na Lager, Devils Back­bone Vien­na Lager, Figue­roa Moun­tain Danish-style Red Lager, Hea­vy Seas Cut­lass Amber Lager, Schell’s Firebrick
Ori­gi­nal Gravity
1.048 - 1.055 SG
Final Gra­vi­ty
1.010 - 1.014 SG
9 - 15 SRM
4.0 - 5.0 %vol
18 - 30 IBU