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Sierra Nevada Vienna Style Lager | Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

very good
156 Reviews
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Sierra Nevada Vienna Style LagerSierra Nevada Vienna Style Lager

Brewed by:
Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
California, United States | website

Style: Vienna Lager

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 5.30%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
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.

Added by ThreeWiseMen on 06-24-2009

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Reviews: 156 | Ratings: 759
Photo of Thisdrinkinglife
4.26/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Review: Bottle of Sierra Nevada Vienna Style Lager: ABV: 5.30%

A Vienna style beer is a light coloured amber lager that has a delicate balance between sweet caramel malts and floral hops

Aroma: Lovely smell, I got toasted biscuit tones, sweet caramel and malts, all of which were absolutely lovely to smell, wow, really liked the aroma, good start.................

Appearance: On pour I got a clear amber looking colour, and a massive head which was very frothy, but it does settle down quick enough to peter out, no real lacing, and ok to look at

Lovely taste, really enjoyed drinking this beer, was dead smooth and easy to drink from start to finish, a type of beer to saviour long into the night, excellent.

Tasted a lot of malt, also got caramel and toffee

Really full of tastes, sweet but not too sweet, and all flavours balanced and drinkable

I liked it a lot, a beer that is clean and very smooth. Definitely will be checking out this beer again. Enjoyable and very easy to drink. Recommended..

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Photo of Gavage
4.11/5  rDev +7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Appearance: pours an amber color with a 2" head that hangs around a while.

Smell: light grass and biscuit tones are all you can detect.

Taste: light breadiness, grass, mild lemon zest, and a mild bitterness.

Mouthfeel: light-medium bodied beer. Crisp from start to finish with a bit of dryness late. Short lived aftertaste.

Overall: a very drinkable and satisfying lager that is a nice change. Definitely worthy of a try.

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Photo of microbrewlover
3.42/5  rDev -10.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

This beer pours a solid copper which is mostly clear with a small off white head, some of which lasts as a collar. There is also lots of carbonation.

The smell is toasted biscuit, cracker, slightly malty.

The taste follows the nose with toasted biscuit, cracker and malt taste all coming one after the other. There is also a slightly grassy, earthy taste along with caramel and very light hops on the backend. Uncharacteristic of Sierra Nevada not to hop up a beer but that is the correct approach for this style.

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Photo of rodbeermunch
3.46/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Mild amber color, solid full inch of off white head. Toffee and grassy aromas. Smells like leaves falling.

Taste was oktoberfest sweet, lightly toasted amber malts. Smooth mouthfeel. Easy drinking, tiny bits of caramel, toffee. Hit that sweet and toasted malt balance, which is what you wanna be going for in this style.

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Photo of Libeertarian
3.46/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Appears copper, slightly and finely hazed but mostly clear. Head is light tan, light, delicate, foamy and somewhat fizzy, and of lower retention. Crumbly biscuit, sweet caramel, grass aromas. Mild tartness and sweetness throughout, bready and even toasty malts up front, more caramel in the back, finished with more toastiness and characteristic Noble type hops, herbal, floral, verging on soapy. Medium-light body, loads of finer spritzy bubbles, crisp and dry.

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Photo of dbrauneis
3.98/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

A: Pours a clear bronze-ish copper in color with moderate amounts of active visible carbonation rising from the bottom of the glass and faint amber + apricot highlights. The beer has a two finger tall foamy beige head that reduces to a large patch of very thin film covering about 75% of the surface of the beer and a thin ring at the edges of the glass. Light amounts of lacing are observed.

S: Light to moderate aromas of toasted + biscuit malts and light aromas of floral + grassy hops.

T: Upfront there are moderate flavors of toasted and biscuit malts with a light amount of honey-like sweetness and some faint hints of light fruit (apple). That is followed by light to moderate flavors of floral, grassy, and earthy hops which impart a light amount of lingering bitterness in the finish.

M: Just shy of medium bodied with moderate amounts of carbonation. Light amounts of dryness in the finish.

O: A very nice Vienna Lager and one that I find incredibly easy to drink - very enjoyable and I could definitely have a couple in a session.

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Photo of Franziskaner
3.84/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Dark copper in color with excellent clarity. A half inch of tightly packed beige foam is resting on top. It tapered off quickly and now there's a fingernail covering most of the top. I smell light malt in the form of freshly baked sourdough bread. The taste is lightly sweet with light, bready malt. The mouth is very dry, light, and delicate.

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Photo of VDJ104
3.86/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

Amber colored filtered lager with lots of carbonation head stays for a while. Smell is of wet grains. Taste is beady with various spices. Overall a solid fall beer that taste similar to many Oktoberfest lagers.

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Photo of OKbrew89
3.66/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Poured from a bottle into a pint glass. Pours brownish-amber with a small head that retains well and leaves a ring of lacing at the top of the glass. Aroma of subtle breadi-ness and whole-cone hops. Nice semi-sweet malt to balance out the floral and piney hops with a dry, spicy finish. Medium carbonation and medium body that is very drinkable.
I really dug this one. It's a nice balance that works very well and introduced me to a beer style that I would love to explore more of.

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Photo of JerzDevl2000
3.78/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Had this out of the Fall Pack a few weeks back, as this was the only beer in it that I hadn't reviewed before. I like the Sam Adams Boston Lager a lot and this was just as good as that while sharing the same traits as well. Nice balance here with a crisp finish and just the right amount of alcohol combined for an easygoing drinking experience that would make this a go-to session beer, even if the 5.30% ABV wouldn't quite qualify this for that purpose!

Typical pour to this as the hue was a nut brown with a nice clarity, moderate head, and ring of lingering foam around the top of the liquid. Not a lot of lacing here as the thin consistency of this beer translated into the lacing siding down the side of my pint glass. Caramel malt, hazelnut, and dark bread in the nose with even more of those in the taste on top of that. The Dextrin malt and sweetness were here but they were quite muted and the hops were nearly imposible to discern. Crisp, with lingering wheat in the aftertaste, this had a slight sourness to it that was enjoyable but certainly not overpowering. The nut and dark bread undertone is what held this together and the faint amount of trademark resin found in SN's other offerings served as reminder as to who brewed this beer that was atypical relative to their typical offerings.

The alcohol was perfect for this style and had I not shared the other bottles of this in the pack, I could have reached for another one after finishing this off. While not a style that's going to blow people away, I wish that more of these were readily available. It's great to find a beer that's as dark, flavorful, and aggressive as an ale while being as clear and crisp as the lightest of lagers. This fit that bill and for anyone who can't get their hands on a Sam Adams, this would be just as satisfying. A solid offering that deserves to be on the shelf for more than three months a year!

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Photo of jasonpeckins32
3.13/5  rDev -18.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours nearly brown in color with some auburn/autumn tones. Zero head.

Smells grassy and mildly bready.

A light touch of malts up front, followed by a lingering bready flavor and a crisp, dry finish.

This is definitely on the lighter side of beers, and it is nicely carbonated.

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Photo of SaltofOH
3.71/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Bottle PKGD 7/22/15. DFH Tulip.

Appearance: A bright amber, perfectly clear, significant, but not tremendous carbonation. Thin white head fades to a ring of white at the edges. Not much retention or lacing.

Smell: BJCP says it should not have caramel aroma, and I'm not sure if that's what I'm getting but it is tremendously sweet on the nose, like Eliot Ness or Bell's Amber. I love it. Toasty.

Taste: Definitely has a balance of malt and hops on the palate; I'd say Eliot Ness is maltier, hoppier and cleaner. How is that possible? Not to say this isn't great- I love this beer and this style, just that this isn't the best of the style I've had.

Mouthfeel: Active, but not excessive carbonation. Lighter side of mid-bodied. Very clean finishing. A touch of lingering melanoidins.

Overall: I like Eliot Ness better, but this is a close second. For a style I love, this leaves me wanting something. Graded to style, this is really spot-on. Perhaps this is truer to style than EN, but EN is what I've grown accustomed to, and really hits the spot, while this just doesn't.

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Photo of Pantalones
4.07/5  rDev +6%
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 +12.2%
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 -3.4%
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 -4.2%
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 +5.2%
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 -1.6%
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%
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 -5.2%
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 +3.6%
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 -6.8%
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 +2.6%
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 -0.8%
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 +2.1%
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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Sierra Nevada Vienna Style Lager from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
86 out of 100 based on 156 ratings.
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