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Sierra Nevada Vienna Style Lager - Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Sierra Nevada Vienna Style LagerSierra Nevada Vienna Style Lager

Educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

142 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 142
Hads: 692
Avg: 3.85
pDev: 21.04%
Wants: 23
Gots: 103 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. visit their website
California, United States

Style | ABV
Vienna Lager |  5.30% ABV

Availability: Rotating

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: ThreeWiseMen on 06-24-2009

Vienna-style beers are among the world’s first light-colored lagers and were on the brink of extinction until American craft brewers helped revive the style; it’s a good thing they did. These delicate and extremely balanced amber beers rely on semi-sweet and bready malt flavors but walk a fine line with both malt and hop character shouldering equal weight. Our take on the style features whole-cone European hops, which add to the dry finish.
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Reviews: 142 | Hads: 692
Photo of Pantalones
4.07/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

My second bottle of this one from the Fall Pack (and unfortunately also the last for now, as my sister took the third. XD) Bottling date is July 20th, 2015.

Color is a very nice coppery-orange sort of thing, with a decent little bit of whitish foam on top that shrinks to a thin coating fairly quickly. The foam does eventually disappear altogether, but not until maybe the 1/3-of-a-glass-left mark. It's incredibly clear, and just dark enough that the rising bubbles are difficult to see without the aid of light until they reach the surface (though even a light as small as a phone screen makes them clearly visible.) I don't think Sierra Nevada knows how to make a bad-looking beer, or if they do I haven't seen any evidence of it so far.

Smell is very nice and bready right off, detectable when pouring as well as afterward while the beer is sitting there in the glass. I occasionally even get a light whiff of breadiness even from several inches away. Sniffing a little deeper, the breadiness seems to just barely start to shift toward a slightly sweet caramel-y sort of thing right at the end. A bit of a spicy hop thing in there too, also showing up only right at the end. Overall: it smells good!

Taste is interesting -- there's something I can't quite identify right at the beginning, and whatever it is tastes nice and makes me want to drink a lot at once. I kinda want to say it might be a hop or yeast thing, but beyond that I really can't figure out just how to describe it -- kinda sweet, but almost tart at the same time? I dunno. After that, there's the same sort of breadiness that was present in the smell, which is actually a little more complex than just "bready" -- reminds me a bit of an almost-sweet darker homemade bread at first, and then with a biscuity/crackery thing blended in after. It's a really nice malt flavor, that's for sure. That bit of spiciness from the hops is definitely present in the flavor, too, coming out a good bit more than in the smell but still tending to pop in right at the end. That little bit of hop spiciness definitely makes this one stand out a bit -- the other Vienna-style lagers I've had leaned more to the toasty/caramel-y malt side, while here the hops come out in the flavor a bit too rather than just for balance.

Feel is nice too -- you can tell it's well-carbonated, but at the same time it never comes across as *too* carbonated with that prickly, fizzy sort of thing. Very drinkable, substantial enough to say "this is beer, not water!" but light enough that I could easily have two in a row. Maybe even three if I knew for sure I didn't have to drive anywhere anytime soon.

Overall -- another great lager from Sierra Nevada. I'm a little surprised that my first impression of this one was "good but not great" and now on my second bottle things have shifted around more toward "wow, this is really good." Basically, the only downside to this beer is the fact that it leaves me wanting another one even though this is my last bottle!

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Photo of Redneckwine
4.31/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

12oz bottle into tulip

Look - Ruddy amber and crystal clear, a 1 finger off-white head forms on the pour and sticks around for the long haul as a wispy cap. Nice retention and decent lacing.

Smell - Cookie-like malts and spicy/floral hops mingle nicely. A ghost-whiff of lagery sulfur is barely present.

Feel - Love the feel on this! The carb really cuts through the medium body and is fairly biting, but remains very smooth and tight, which really helps this beer stay super drinkable and refreshing. Great job on the body.

Taste - Surprisingly, the hops come through most in the front palate with spicy and floral notes, then the clean, toasty, cookie malts start taking over in a semi-sweet way mid-palate with a touch of graininess. The suggestion of sweetness vanishes almost immediately because this beer dries up in a hurry towards the finish with somewhat assertive spicy/floral hop bitterness and flavor for the style. Beautifully balanced.

Overall - Just a very clean, balanced, refreshing, crisp, flavorful lager here overall. The flavors aren't terribly complex, but I actually think that's one of this beer's merits: the individual flavors really stand out in a strong way and never get lost, but yet mingle so very nicely. I would probably choose this over SABL in a vienna lager shoot-out, and I do enjoy SABL quite a bit. SN nails it once again.

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Photo of BrownAleBollocks
3.71/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Pours a light clear straw with a two finger fluffy white head. Aroma is bready malt and a bit of floral highlights. Taste is sweet bready malt, floral undertones, and a bit of a spicy kick in the middle. Mouthfeel is smooth and light, very lager appropriate. Overall, not my favorite of SN's brews, but a well msde, good drinker that highlights the subtle side of beer.

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Photo of Ozzylizard
3.68/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Bottle packaged 7/20/15 at 42 degrees into snifter
Aroma of malt, weak. Does not last entire glass
Head small (< two cm, aggressive pour), off white, frothy, diminishing to two mm ring and some small islands on the surface
Lacing poor – rare small island with tiny bubbles
Body dark orange, clear
Flavor begins with a slightly bitter malt, quickly ends just bitter; no alcohol, no diacetyl
Palate medium, dry, lively carbonation

Appearance 3.75, Aroma 3.75, Flavor 3.5, Palate 4, Overall 3.75

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Photo of Brian_L-2056
4.04/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pours a nice copper-gold color into a typical pint glass. Looks to be clear with plenty of carbonation, head quickly dissipates. Lacing is there but not abundant. Initial taste is pleasant with notes of citrus, and light hops. Aftertaste is also pleasant , only slightly dry. This is a very satisfying brew that I definitely enjoy. Feels like a full flavored lighter beer. Look forward to this for hopefully years to come.

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Photo of laketang
3.78/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

into a tall lager glass clean amber with large tan bubbly head, reduces to nil

sweet bready whiff, ginger spice

good malty flavor, no alcohol presence as expected, sweet on the tongue

I can agree on a dry finish, a bit of a flat feel for a beer bottled in july 2015

not a huge fan of the style, but I will drink again.

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Photo of NickSMpls
3.84/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Nice, crisp, dark amber - almost maple syrup shade. Rich malty taste with hops coming in behind. Pleasant Euro-taste and very refreshing on a cool early autumn evening. Bought as part of the fall sampler pack, I don't recall seeing this on the shelf on its own.

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Photo of Davepoolesque
3.64/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Light, crisp, tiny bit bitter. Has some toasted malt sweetness. Muted flavors. I could drink this all night long. Decent, but nothing special. Lacks the punch of a traditional vienna style lager.

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Photo of drtth
3.98/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

The beer pours out into a Duvel glass a clear dark amber with a 3/4" light tan head that recedes to a fine ring and a small film in the center of the glass. Sipping leaves a few scattered patches and speckles that mostly slide back down to the liquid.

The aromas include some nice bready malt with floral hops and touches of spiciness in the background.

The flavors are much as expected from the nose with the bready malt and floral, spicy hops playing nicely together.

The mouth feel is medium bodied and there is some light carbonation. The finish is medium length and begins as the malt begins to fade leaving some some floral, grassy, spicy hop bitterness that becomes dry at the end of the sip, inviting another sip.

Overall this is a well made example of a Vienna Lager that I'll be happy to have again. I'm also thinking this would be a fine beer to have at an evening dinner party with friends where the conversation goes on long after the meal is finished.

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Photo of allforbetterbeer
3.58/5  rDev -7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

From a 12oz bottle. A little over 2 months in the bottle.

Light sweetness predominates, with a simple but bread-crusty malt profile. Hops are present to assist the malt, and stay in the background. Nice shape to the mouthfeel, with ample carbonation. This reminds me of another "large craft" Vienna lager, Sam Adams Boston Lager. I actually like that one better, but this is a solid example. I bet this would be improved by being served on tap fresh at the brewery. Solid beer, but not quite a shinning example.

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Photo of puck1225
3.94/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A very nice beer. Pours a dark golden yellow with a good head and some lacing. Taste is malty and a bit sweet and somewhat floral. I enjoyed drinking this beer and would buy it again.

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Photo of Strat58cat
3.81/5  rDev -1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Sierra Nevada, a company that pioneered craft brewing with notably bitter pale ale, is making a Vienna Lager. It's the antithesis of the stereotypical Sierra Nevada style. What's it about? Throwing the gauntlet at Boston Beer Company, or what?

This is a completely different beer than Boston Lager, to address the elephant in the room. They are recognizably derived from the same European roots, but Boston Lager is not a traditional Vienna Lager, using very high amounts of noble hops and unique varieties of malt to create a Boston Lager - its own thing. The Boston Lager essentially is the product of the Boston Beer Company's love of noble hops and caramel malts. It worked really well at least once. In the Vienna Lager style, Samuel Adams with Boston Lager creates a far more noble-hop-centered lager. Although noble hops may be expensive, Sierra Nevada's approach is not due cutting costs. They spared no expense on the malt. None of the leading craft brewers compete on price. They compete on uncompromising quality. Sierra Nevada has produced a much more traditional Vienna Lager than the ubiquitous Boston Beer Company version.

The appearance is a strong point. The deep amber carries hints of red as well. The head foams up a beautiful cream color, retains and laces.

The aroma is malt forward. It's more similar to Sam Adams Octoberfest than to Boston Lager. It's a very delicious smelling malt, with a straightforward sweet cake note. However, it's only one note. Vienna Lager is not under-hopped for a traditional Vienna Lager, but by design the hops blend so much with the smell of the malt that they are not detectable as a different note than the major sweet bread note.

The taste is a very good malt flavor. If you took the main element of the several strands that are going on in Boston Lager and slightly turned it up, you would have it. It's a sweet bread flavor. It's rich. This is not a complex flavor. There's only one note, essentially, but it's a very good one. There's a lingering, slightly oily finish to the flavor that is enjoyable.

The feel is appropriately medium bodied. It's not at all thin or watery. Nor does Vienna feel viscous, like some Marzens can feel. It's simply right.

Sierra Nevada has produced a very enjoyable lager. Their range is impressive.

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Photo of RabbleRouserRye
3.92/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Not a lot of experience with this style but thought it had an excellent taste.

If you are drinking wit a craft newbie this would be a good recommendation.

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Photo of egrapplesberg
3.96/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Had on draft at Taco Mac because it's the beer of the month. Free pint (mugs tonight) glass woo woo! Einsey weensey head that doesn't leave much retention or lacing. Copper with carb bubbles. Smell is nutty malt and spices. Taste is similar with a hint of ginger(?) and a bready backbone. Decent carbonation. Very interesting taste that I would definitely have again. Cheers!!

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Photo of justintcoons
3.93/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle poured into a dumb looking plastic drinking cup.

golden amber w 2 fingers of creamy bone-white head. Excellent clarity with moderate carbonation.

Caramel, brown bread, and earthy hops.

Caramel and brown bread with a touch of brown sugar. Nutty and toasty with a delicate hop balance of earth and florals.

Medium bodied, smooth, clean, balanced, and refreshing.

Easy drinking and very balanced Vienna. Spot on!

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Photo of Buck89
4.04/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Nice clear amber color with a generous white head. Good retention and lacing. Aromas of caramel and dark bread. Nice bold flavor with clean sweet bready malty notes and a slightly spicy hop presence. Clean finish. I liked this much more than I anticipated.

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Photo of Jeffwildcat
3.92/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Nice malty look and flavor. Any hop character is overpowered by the malt. Has some nutiness character. A very easy sessionable beer to enjoy any timeI of the year.

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Photo of Hopheadjeffery
3.85/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Tasted in a Spiegelau lager glass from a 12 oz bottle on September 11, 2015. Look is light amber, little head retention, and some lingering lacing. Smell is grain, sweet malt and hints of caramel. Taste is grain, sweet caramel malt and some subtle spice notes. Feel is light in body.

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Photo of BigDaddyWarbuxx
3.87/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

A good amount of nutiness to this one, which compliments the malts quite well. It's not a terribly intense flavor, but it's very smooth and works well as an autumn beer.

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Photo of miwestcoaster
3.71/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

The best way to describe this beer is this would be in my fridge if I ever wanted a AAL or if a guest wanted an AAL. In other words, an introduction into the world of craft. Perhaps there are some holdouts around somewhere. One of the finest lawnmower beers on the market.

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Photo of TheSSG
3.26/5  rDev -15.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Pours a soapy, white head. Spicy, floral hop aroma. Copper color with a touch of amber. Starts with a nice, spicy hoppiness. Malt wells up and pushes through this. The spicy hops and smooth malt combine into the finish, with both lingering in a very well balanced way.

This is pretty nice. When I was living out West, Sierra Nevada impressed me in that they could competently make lagers. This is a touch hoppier than I prefer for the style, but it's a decent attempt. Definitely a perfect brew for a chilly Autumn evening.

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Photo of Catracho5
4.15/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

12 ounce bottle poured into a stein

A: Pours an amber, dark orange color with little head retention, some lacing, not much carbonation, looks pretty good.

A: Some toast, sweet malts, grain, earth aromas, slight caramel and toffee, smells pretty good.

T: A hit of sweet, caramel toasted malts up front, slight subdued bitterness in the middle, grain, grassy with a hint of spice on the finish. Nice balance of complexity on the tastes, very good.

M: Average mouthfeel, balanced carbonation, some spiciness on the palate.

O: Really enjoyed this, very drinkable, good complexity, some sweetness, some spice, some bitterness, overall, very solid offering from Sierra Nevada.

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Photo of Alpha309
3.77/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a shaker pint.

Pours a transparent straw color. About a quarter of a finger of lace head that dissipates almost immediately.

Very sweet smelling. Caramel with a hint of refined sugar.

Taste is almost exclusively caramel.

Feel is very heavy in the mouth. Almost feels like a sugary soda.

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Photo of utopiajane
4.05/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Today I have the the venturesome and veracious Vienna lager. We have watched the lager evolve from the palest trace of color to a mixture of malts and now to this darker lager. As always the familiar refrain- no fruity esters, no diacetyl, no dims,no caramel or roasted flavors. An important style distinction that is both general and specific is that this beer is the less intense between it and the oktoberfest. A hop bitter should carry through to the after taste and this one can finish sweet or sweeter. It's supposed to have a "firm enough hop bitter to provide a balanced finish. " And we know what that means if it has to last into the after taste. Also the Vienna lager can show you a bit of warmth from alcohol but you will notice the abv does not exceed 5.5%. I would call that a characteristic impression and it gives meaning to the idea that in some bigger beers the bitterness from alcohol can come forward with hops in the finish to balance the malt sweetness .

Sierra Nevada put both their Oktoberfest and their Vienna Lager out at about the same time. In fact for a brewer known for hops and hoppy beer their fall case is pretty malt forward.

Here is the beer. The pour is orange but has a little fire from copper in it. Thick head of cream colored of tan foam that retains well. This beer is toasty and exuberant on the nose. Malt is kissed by a light touch of sugar. It seems to twinkle with sweetness on the palate. This beer demonstrates that more residual sugar int he finish reveals the alcohol to the palate. There is no caramel on the nose or on the palate. The malt is crisp and dry. There is a firm hop bitter that lasts into the aftertaste giving the impression of a thinner mouthfeel.

The oktoberfest is more mellow. They are both rich but each is distinct. Both have what you might call a melanoidin softness on the palate. The Oktoberfest finishes dry but the Vienna finishes sweet and then dries out as it lingers. If I had to pick one and say it's hoppier I couldn't. There's only a slight alcohol warming as this finishes and it is the perfect compliment to the palate. The abv is revealed by that touch of sugar and the alcohol is unmasked. Because it's only 5.3% it simply finishes the beer balanced and lets it dry and does not leave a lot of flavor behind. Neither malt toastiness nor sweetness. If the beer had diacetyl or dms it would stand out like a sore thumb right here.

This was an excellent example of the style and you can really see from this one brewer how different these two styles are. Cheers to Sierra Nevada.

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Photo of Wiffler27
3.91/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

pours a nice amber color with a solid white head.

this beer has a pilsner aroma but slightly more malty.

the taste is not very strong, a slight bitter finish but it doesn't impart a strong flavor.

this goes down smoothly but isn't thick, creamy, or even thin.

while this is not a bad beer, it's not a great beer. solid counterpart in the SN fall sampler pack but if anything it's just blah. an inoffensive offering

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Sierra Nevada Vienna Style Lager from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
86 out of 100 based on 142 ratings.