Vienna Lager | Devils Backbone Brewing Company

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139 Reviews
Vienna LagerVienna Lager

Brewed by:
Devils Backbone Brewing Company
Virginia, United States | website

Style: Vienna Lager

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 4.90%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
Brewed using a combination of Northern Brewer and Saaz hops with Vienna, Pilsen, Dark Munich and Caramel malts and allowing five weeks for the lagering process and the flavors to fully develop.

Added by on 12-24-2008

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Reviews: 139 | Ratings: 794
Photo of rangerred
2.77/5  rDev -26.7%
look: 2.25 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 2.75

12oz bottle into a pint glass.

Pours a clear lighter brown with a soapy half finger head that quickly disappears. No lacing or head retention whatsoever which is a little odd considering the abundant carbonation.

The aroma is on the weak side but has caramel and toasted malt coming through along with a little bit of hay and grass.

Caramel on the taste with a little bit of toast, prunes, and grass. It all just falls away so quick however leaving nothing but a light bitterness on the tongue. Extremely disappointing as I was hoping for much more flavor but Boston Lager has more taste than this. Mouthfeel is extremely watery with almost a seltzer water-like feel.

Overall, a real disappointment. I had never heard of this brewery but was hoping I might find a hidden gem. Alas it was not to be.

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Photo of oberon
3.88/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a becker a clear rich bronze with a well defined half finger white head that was pretty quick to fade.Aromas mainly of caramel doughy malt,flavors start out with caramel malt notes along with a whiskey-ish element to it,a decent smattering of spicy hops in the finish.A solid vienna lager not overly sweet with a nice amount of hops.A good beer for yard work and opening day Tiger baseball!

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Photo of argock
4.1/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a 12 oz brown bottle into a Samuel Adams Perfect Pint glass. No obvious freshness date. 6-pack purchased at Kroger (Charlottesville, VA) for $7.99.

A: Amber-golden and crystal clear with short, 1/2-finger of big-bubbled, off-white head with average retention and not much lace left behind.

S: Whiff of sulfur and then cereal grain with light honey and malty breadiness with a light, crisp noble hops note.

T: The flavor really takes it up a notch for the style with solid bready maltiness with a light caramel-honey sweetness filled in with a little toasty note here and there. The finish is soft at first with more bready, caramel sweetness but finishes with a firm, crisp noble hops bite. Really a remarkable example of the Vienna lager style.

M: Very light feel but with the body does creep up to almost medium most of the way through. The carbonation is firm but not overdone.

O: I can see why this beer has done so well in numerous competitions -- it layers bready, light caramelly maltiness with a solid crisp hops bite and light-medium feel. While I like SA Boston Lager, this beer crushes it -- SABL is very heavy-handed without much subtlety unlike DB Vienna Lager which layers a complex number of clean, malt characteristics with a crisp hops finish. I feel lucky to have this type of high-quality beer available in my backyard.

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Photo of streetcommander
3.81/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Served at 36F. Warmed to 50F before final swirl-down.

Very near SA Boston Lager base. Much better subtle fruitiness and depth, and not quite as heavy on the malt. I think the more fruity flavors may come from the yeast strain. Very nice.

Medium bodied, with good carbonation. Very well tempered and really good drinkability. Mellow enough to serve with near any meal. No overpowering or lingering hop presence. Just enough bitterness to balance out the sweetness and esters.

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Photo of nimrod979
3.7/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

12 oz bottle from a mix-a-six. Poured into a pint.

Appearance: Crystal clear copper color. One finger tan head. Barely any retention. No lacing.

Aroma: Sweet caramel and toasted bread. Earthy. Faint herbal hops. Nothing crazy, but just what it should be.

Taste: Excellent malt forward lager. Caramel and nutty flavors with toasted flakey biscuits. Faint hop balance makes this an overall well-crafted lager.

Mouthfeel: Soft smooth, chwey mouthfeel. Super drinkable. Well-balanced. Excellent. No complaints here. Nothing pushing the envelope.Exactly what it should be.

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Photo of barleywinefiend
3.06/5  rDev -19%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A: Poured copper with a medium white cap, transparent body, crystal clear, the head fades in a New York minute leaving a copper liquid ithout any lacing or bubbles present

S: Nose is faint with a lightrly toasted note, some nuts thrown in for good measure and a very faint windex like note

T: Initial taste is a bit astringent leading into a combo of toasted grains, biscuits and nuts. A little toffee is detected but there is a underlying bitterness that tags along throughout the taste, really detected more upfront and mid taste. The finish is light, somewhat refreshing, more toastiness and nuts with a light bite

M: Light bodied as it should be, well carbonated for the style, no major complaints.

O: No major flaws, recommendation is a tighter, longer head. The nose could be stouter, a little more sweetness could happen and less bite.

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Photo of BeerFMAndy
4.62/5  rDev +22.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12 oz bottle poured into a pilsner glass.
4.9% ABV, "Boned on Aug 15 2012" printed on shoulder in black.

Thanks to Chaney for another brew sent in his ungodly large and generous box!

A - From the beer's incredibly designed, painted, illustrated label to the fact the bottle reads "boned on", it's already scoring points and the beer hasn't been poured yet! Once in the glass, a turbid pour froths up a dense off-white bone-colored head with specks of lace dotting the glass once it disappears. The beer is a brilliantly shimmering sienna color with little carbonation streaming through the crystal clear beer.

S - Devil's Backbone Vienna Lager has an amazing crispness about it's aroma that's so simple and intoxicating upon first whiff. Vienna malt creates a plethora of light complexities from wheat toast and flaky biscuits to woodiness that works well with the beer's hop notes of faint herbal and spice notes.

T - Sweet malt suggests caramel tones with a thick bready flavor following and toast notes finishing. Hop balance is certainly prevalent, but it's flavors are near absent. The taste is quite elegant and delicious but not as subtly deep as the aroma.

M - Soft creaminess washes over the tongue while sipping this medium-light bodied lager. Gentle carbonation keeps the feel lively with a touch of dryness on the finish that's balanced by the hops.

O - Devil's Backbone Vienna Lager is a malt-forward classic rendition of a great German style. Soft and smooth with a well-balanced malt sweetness, the beer is easy drinking, delightfully simple, but filled with understated complexities.

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Photo of Guden
3.74/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A- Deep copper with some haze. A small head fades quickly leaving no lacing.

S- Sweet caramel predominates with a little toast, and a hint of woody and spicy hops.

T- Again caramel is the main character up front with some amaretto and toast in the blend. Not super strong in flavor and a bit sweeter than I expected.

M- Fairly low in carbonation and body, kind of watery. A bit lacking in this category.

O- A refreshing beer, I've gone back to it a few times. An easy drinker but nothing amazing.

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Photo of obywan59
3.76/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Crystal clear and coppery in color with a 1 finger whitish head that recedes to a ring leaving minimal lacing.

The aroma is sweet caramel with a bit or toasted malt. Nice, just not much to it.

Taste is better, sweet and nutty toasted malts. The sweetness lasts throughout, with bitterness rising in the middle.

Medium bodied with decent carbonation and a warming burn in the throat. Lightly sticky.

This beer has grown on me. It's not spectacular, and not as complex as the beers I'm used to drinking, but it makes for a very pleasing session.

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Photo of daliandragon
3.88/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This is the last survivor from some brews picked up on a college football road trip weekend in Virginia last week. This is a new brewery for me, although I have heard good things. Pours a handsome burnt copper color with a big beige head that billows and puffs and quickly recedes to a thin, spotty cap. The nose is heavy on the caramel and earth tones and the briefest twang of noble hops.

A long draught reveals some mild but stubborn hoppiness tight wiring up against the sweetness of the caramel malt. Plenty of carbonation but this is still an easy to drink, fairly refreshing beer. Simple in nature, it makes the most of this style and leaves you satisfied. I could drink these all day, particularly as the fall progresses.

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Photo of Darkmagus82
3.63/5  rDev -4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from bottle into pint glass

Appearance – Pours a deep amber color with a big billowy white head. The head has huge carbonation bubbles entrapped within which pop rather quickly to give a head that recedes fast to give only a very light level of lacing.

Smell – The smell is rather light with some notes of roasted malt and a very light caramel smell.

Taste – A dry roasted malt flavor meets the tongue. This flavor is then present throughout the whole of the taste. While overall dry up front, there is a very light sweetness. The sweetness fades over the taste experience while a light herbal hop taste enters the taste. In the end the roasted malt and light hop flavors give a nice dry and crisp flavor on the tongue.

Mouthfeel – A rather thin body with a good level of carbonation. Very fitting for the style and it makes for one refreshing and easy drinking brew.

Overall – While rather simple in its flavors, it is quite delicious and refreshing. A fantastic session brew.

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Photo of DefenCorps
3.57/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

I've heard great things about this brewery, and hopefully they deliver. Bottle from Chevy Chase.

A dark amber with a dense, white head that falls off to a ring rather quickly, leaving no lace, this looks decent. The nose is pretty excellent. A nice, rich, complex, bready Vienna malt character is present, with a firm noble hop bitterness, a little leafy and a little lemony. This smells extremely clean.

The palate opens with a blend of earthy hop bitterness, a little calcium/chalky mineral character and a toasty malt character. A little bit of burnt sugar, toffee, toast and bread are also present, all excellent flavors in great balance. What this beer does lack, however, is a little bit of body to carry these flavors, as it is a little watery on the mid-palate. Drying, mildly bitter (herbal, leafy) on the finish, with a light mineral character, this beer is light (too light) in body and has a medium-high level of carbonation. Solid stuff, definitely worthy, but I think the Sam Adams Boston Lager is a better alternative.

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Photo of DaveBlack
3.88/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Light copper color with a small amount of white head that has pretty short retention and leaves only a smattering of lacing

S: Caramel malts, a light sweetness and a slight toasty aroma. Smells like a good beer, nothing too exciting, but solid.

T: Tastes pretty much like the smell would lead one to believe. Toasted malts up front bring some grassy notes and a hefty bit of sweetness. The light hop kiss on the end cuts through the sweetness. Otherwise it might be a little too sweet.

M: Medium body with a moderate amount of carbonation and a slight stickiness.

O: A very drinkable beer, well balanced and tasty.

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Photo of mattsdenney
3.47/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

My very nice sis-in-law from DC brought this down to me in Nashville this weekend. Says it's very popular up there.

A: Pours clear with a reddish amber hue. Very thin off-white bubbly head, some retention.

S: Sweet cider, malty, somewhat earthy and husky.

T: Nice balance of frothy malts with slight hop bitterness on the backbone. Clean, with up front flavors of biscuit, grass and corn. No lingering aftertaste to speak of.

M: Thin but not too watery. Light bodied with a moderate amount of carbonation.

O: As they say, very sessionable and enjoyable beer. Nothing groundbreaking here but they've done it right and I would likely purchase this from time-to-time if I lived w/in the distribution area. Til then will have to convince the sis-in-law to bring me more samples from this brewery.

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Photo of BryanCarey
3.43/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Devil’s Backbone Vienna Lager pours from the bottle to a brown color with a clear body. The nose on this beer is one of bread, crystal malt, and caramel and is rather subdued, even though not bad.

Moving to the flavor, this Vienna lager doesn’t disappoint. Tastes of dough, caramel malt, toasted bread, and earthy notes greet the palate. The finish is dry and earthy, but the overall flavor is sweet and may be a little too sweetfor some, although I found it just fine.

This beer is a nice, clean example of the style and it makes a good choice for those who want a good introductory Vienna lager and are not sure where to start. The taste is not as full and rich as some of the best in its class, but this is still a good example of this style and one worth trying if you happen to find yourself in Virginia and want a nice, fresh, unoffensive craft beer to sample.

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Photo of smakawhat
3.55/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from the bottle into a nonic pint glass.

A real nice amber body, hinting at red and crystal clear but makes barely an off white head of about a finger, creamy looking but doesn't stick around at all. There's very little carbonation to see hardly.

Nose is interesting. Grainy, with a butter brown sugar sense, sort of baked and cookie like but it's a very small nose and quiet closed. Sense that this is quite light in body coming.

Taste comes in fits and bursts. Light toasty aroma with some good mouthfeel depth. Lingering malt lightness mixes with faint brown sugar ever so slightly, even a little char. The depth is here, but the taste seems hammered down. Some warmth later brings faint sticky caramel, and maybe even some chocolate sense.

Overall it's actually pretty decent but sort of tuned down I think a little too much. THe sweetness comes a little more noticeable as it warms up. It's alright.

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Photo of tobelerone
3.53/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Clear dark gold beer with a small, slowly settling head and some patchy lacing. Aroma is bready and slightly toasty malt; some sweetness detected as well as a faintly floral note underneath.

Sweet and somewhat bready malt flavor with assertive caramel sweetness. Light floral hop presence emerging mostly in the swallow and finish; overall low bitterness.

Clean and crisp with a semi-dry finish. Medium to slightly light bodied with medium carbonation. Decently refreshing. Not bad at all but also not particularly exceptional; might be just a touch too sweet for my liking. Easy drinking.

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Photo of JEdmund
3.95/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Caramel colored, clear, ½” head that settles

Smells doughy, like biscuits, as well as a touch of caramel, and Noble hops.

Malty and smooth! Has a nice clean finish. Full flavored, yet so drinkable and light enough to have a few—or a liter’s full! Finish is dry and hoppy, with almost a stone-like flavor (earthy?).

Extremely balanced for a malt-forward beer. Very clean. A real treat to enjoy. And having had only a handful of Vienna lagers before, this one really stands out and I can see why it earned a gold in its category at the World Beer Cup this year.

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Photo of bum732
4.25/5  rDev +12.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

S: Toasty malt, a very deep toasted grain note, some maltiness, touch of sulfur lager notes.

L: Crystal clear amber, white head that dissipates.

T: Toasted malt up front with some sweetness. A prominent herbal/spicy medium low bitterness. Finishes semi-dry with a clean low spiciness.

M: Medium bodied, medium carbonation.

Really good. Has a very unique toasty flavor, quite intense. Maltiness is toned back, allowing the toastiness and hops to shine. Awesome.

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Photo of Zraly
4.05/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a medium amber with a frothy head. Subtle nose of bread and malt.

Wow -- malt sweetness with a hint of toasted bread and caramel with a clean dry-down; really fits with the style. Really smooth and balanced lager. Carbonation is nice and lifts the sweetness off of the palate. Great summer beer or for times when something lighter-bodied will do.

My first time having this was at the Gloucester, VA Brew Jam. It was mighty tasty in the warm weather. I would definitely session this beer.

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Photo of bubseymour
4.36/5  rDev +15.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

a - clear brown beer with 1 finger head that quickly disappears. Not a very top notch appearance for a beer.

s - an excellent smelling lager. One of the best. Very malty, bready, and sweet caramel and other very pleasant aromas pour out of the glass

t - very perferct lager with sweet malts and smooth finish. Very flavorful and easy to drink. Extremely sessionable.

m - as nice a lager can really be I guess. No issues at all.

overall - There is a reason this beer took home gold medal at the 2012 beerworldcup. Its a fine tasting beer by any measure.

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Photo of tlazaroff
4.08/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Aroma comes across as very nutty and toasty with slight hints of caramel. Its subtle but very very good.

Beautiful looking beer! You honestly couldn't ask for more. Brilliantly clear pure amber color with a really nice white head and subtle but adequate lacing. The etched glass helps with the appearance by creating nucleation sites so I can see some carbonation.

Taste is very nutty as well. It has a nice strong nut and bread flavor (not so much toast, but maybe burnt toast). Not really getting any caramel in the flavor, but some nice floral notes too.

Finishes dry, moderate carbonation, and thin to medium body. And it's SUPER easy to drink! Defiantly would be a go-to session ale if I could buy it locally (ahem).

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Photo of Jimmys
3.08/5  rDev -18.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

12oz into tulip.

A: bright copper. brilliantly bright. head is composed of dense white bubbles. big and fluffy. good retention and thick foamy lacing.

S: candied caramel sweetness on the nose and lots of it. a real subtle earthy hop aroma.

T: definitely biting my teeth with a cold sweetness. minor breadiness. kind of missing the bitter pop of noble hops that i expect and love about this style. finish is mostly dry w/ a minor lingering bitterness.

M: a pretty zesty carbonation on a light bodied brew.

D: i actually found this to be a little bit of a miss for me. there is just something missing in both the malt and hop departments. ive had this on draft at the brewpub a few times and i remember it being much better than this. hmmm, not sure if there is substantial difference in the water between the brewpub and production brewery location but that is the only flavor affecting factor i can think of.

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Photo of WMEugene
4.05/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A - Pours a slightly orangey amber color with a head that dissipates to a thin layer and very good lacing.

S - Rich toasted and caramel malts. A little sweet and fruity.

T - Sweet malt and nutty tastes. Some caramel is present as well. Nice, clean lager taste.

M - Smooth, crisp, and very drinkable. Great carbonation and a nice body.

O - Devil's Backbone has made a very good lager here. The Vienna Lager is a classic example of the style and a very drinkable brew. It may not be the best of the style (that honor belongs to Great Lakes' Eliot Ness), but it is one of the better ones. Quite sessionable.

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Photo of Rhettroactive
4/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From 12oz bottle to Bruges hybrid glass on 4/1/12
*From notes

A: Clean jack o'lantern orange. A good pour yields a clean 1.5 finger ivory white head. A thick white collar and decent lacing rim the glass.

S: Sweet malt and grain. Not overly earthy, and not the old world type you may think. As it warms, a touch of hops become evident.

T: Initially a bit sweet. The toasted golden malts and a touch of buttered toast arrive on the mid and wash to the back. A kiss of hops linger on the finish. Not quite as robust as Sam Adams Boston Lager or Great Lakes Eliot Ness, yet just as tasty.

M: Plenty of body and complexity to go around. Thick and creamy with proper carbonation.

O: Devil's Backbone has crafted a really killer session lager with this one. A bit lighter on the toast then some of the better known in-style, yet just as quaffable and easy to drink. I could see this being a great gateway beer for the macro crowd, and something I'll purchase again when it finally comes to Northern Virginia.

Another winner from Virginia. Easily recommended.

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Vienna Lager from Devils Backbone Brewing Company
3.78 out of 5 based on 794 ratings.
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