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CBN Vienna Lager Blind Tasting

CBN Blind Tasting Panel
• Jay R. Brooks, Tasting Panel Director, Cranky Oldster, CBN
• Tom Dalldorf, Editor/Publisher, CBN
• Vic Kralj, Owner, The Bistro, Hayward, Calif.
• Special thanks to Mike Long, BTP Tasting coordinator/head steward

Anton Dreher, a Viennese brewer, created the style of Vienna lager around 1840. It’s an amber or red lager, similar in style to a märzen but having a more subtle nose and slightly lower alcohol content (4.8% to 5.4% abv, while märzens tend to be above 5.3%) and a bit more hop character (22–28 IBUs versus 18–25 for märzens). Also, Vienna lagers use all-Vienna malt, whereas märzens tend to use some Munich malt.

It is believed that a German brewer, Gabriel Sedlmyer, based the first märzen (or Oktoberfest) beer on Dreher’s Vienna lager shortly after lager yeast was first isolated. Like kölsch, Vienna lager is a delicate style that has subtle flavors and nuances rather than a big, overpowering taste profile. The style had all but died out in Vienna by the 1970s, and thanks in part to Michael Jackson’s efforts, it was revitalized in the 1980s in the city by the Danube. It flourished in other parts of the world, such as Eastern Europe, Scandinavia and North America.

Other available examples of this style that were not available for this panel tasting include Anacortes Vienna, Gordon Biersch Vienna Lager, Great Lakes Eliot Ness, Iron Hill Vienna Lager, Squatter’s Vienna Lager and Stoudt’s Fest.

Samuel Adams Boston Lager
Boston Brewing Co., Massachusetts

Rich, malt nose with light, flowery hop aromas. Copper color with a creamy, white head. Rich, malty sweetness with enjoyable creaminess and a faint nutty undertone.

Snake River Vienna Style Lager
Snake River Brewing Co., Wyoming

Light nose with golden-amber color and a tan head. Soft, rich flavors with malt and hops in nice balance. A great mouthfeel. Very well made, with a long, clean finish.

Brew It Up Vienna Lager
Brew It Up Personal Brewery, California

Fresh, clean nose, straw-yellow color and a thick, white head. Creamy, with a clean, soft palate and some tartness. Very enjoyable and refreshing.

Special Lager
Dos Equis Brewing Co., Mexico

Roasted malt and caramel nose. Brown color and a light tan head. Rich, very malty and sweet on the palate, with bittering a little on the light side.


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