Editors’ Picks: Five Vienna Lagers We Love

A great Vienna lager exhibits malt and hop character balanced by restraint and supreme drinkability. If lager is the ultimate “brewer’s beer,” is Vienna the ultimate brewer’s lager? Here are five that we love.

Craft Beer & Brewing Staff Dec 1, 2020 - 3 min read

Editors’ Picks: Five Vienna Lagers We Love Primary Image

Grains of Wrath Vienna Lager

Bright amber-tinted gold, redolent of light, sweet, wet grain—nutty and toasty, never husky or rough. Finely balanced and finishing dry, with the sweetness more of an impression from the nose and body. Flavorful but elegant, highly drinkable. Easy to see why it nabbed bronze and silver at GABF.
ABV: 5% Location: Camas, Washington

Dovetail Vienna Lager

Enticing, bright copper color with sturdy foam. Toasted bread, herbs, and minerals in the nose lead into a lightly sweet, bready-malt flavor, roundly balanced with a smooth, mellow hop bitterness, all culminating in a clean, dry finish and just an echo of toasted brioche. Demands large gulps.
ABV: 5.1% Location: Chicago, Illinois

Starr Hill Jomo

Wafts of nut bread, a stripe of molasses, and a light touch of earthy tobacco-hop. Medium-bodied, feeling weighty, with flavor-dials turned up a half-notch: light-honey-sweetness hugs moderate bitterness, landing just off-dry, trading a bit of digestibility for oomph. Has earned five GABF medals over the years, including a second gold in 2019.
ABV: 4.6% Location: Crozet, Virginia.

pFriem Family Vienna Lager

pFriem’s lager credentials are impeccable, and the Vienna follows in that fine tradition, riding the impossible line between dry and sweet, crisp and warming. A deft study in contrasts, it manages to embody both, with toasty bready malt providing an endearing and rich flavor that never strays into “sweet” territory.
ABV: 5.3% Location: Hood River, Oregon

August Schell Firebrick

Years ago at a beer festival in the upper Midwest, we asked Stan Hieronymus about a “don’t miss” beer at the fest, and despite the otherwise hyped beers there, he pointed us toward this classic from one of America’s oldest indepedent breweries. It continues to hold up, today, with malt-forward approach that remains light and drinkable despite its complexity.
ABV: 4.8% Location: New Ulm, Minnesota