Every year our brew team surpasses themselves with a mind-blowing Vienna Lager, and this year is no different! The fourth Vienna Lager from Pillars recently landed and in a satisfying moment of synchronicity, it also happens to be our fourth collaboration with the William Morris Gallery. Our Vienna releases have always proven popular with our lager-loving customer base, but what is a Vienna Lager? 


The Beginnings of Vienna Lager

The story of Vienna Lager begins in the early 19th century, with an Austrian brewer named Anton Dreher. In 1836, Dreher took over his family's brewery in Schwechat, near Vienna, and began experimenting with new brewing techniques. Influenced by the lagering methods from Bavaria, Dreher aimed to create a beer that combined these techniques with a distinct malt flavour.

In 1841, he introduced a beer that was revolutionary. Using a kilning process that gently toasted the malt, Dreher achieved a rich amber colour and a flavour profile that was both malty and crisp. This beer was the original Vienna Lager. It quickly gained popularity, becoming a beloved lager in Austria and beyond.


Characteristics of a Vienna Lager

What makes a Vienna Lager? This type of lager stands out for its balanced flavour profile that can appeal to a wide range of palates. Here are its defining characteristics:

  • Appearance: A beautiful, clear amber to copper colour with a persistent, off-white head.
  • Aroma: A moderate toasty malt aroma, sometimes with hints of caramel, but no significant hop aroma.
  • Flavour: A smooth, malty taste is at the forefront, often described as toasty or biscuity. There's a mild sweetness that's perfectly balanced by a slight hop bitterness.
  • Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied with a moderate carbonation, offering a smooth and somewhat creamy texture.

The Decline & Revival

Despite its early popularity, Vienna Lager's presence in Europe declined by the early 20th century. The reasons for this decline are multifaceted, including the two World Wars, changing consumer preferences, and the rise of lighter beers. By the mid-20th century, Vienna Lager had almost disappeared from its homeland, kept alive mainly through Mexican breweries that had adopted the style.

Interestingly, the Vienna Lager found a new lease of life in Mexico, where Austrian brewers had migrated in the 19th century. Brands like Negra Modelo preserved the Vienna Lager tradition, albeit with local tweaks, ensuring its survival.

In recent decades, the craft beer movement has sparked a resurgence of interest in traditional beer styles, including Vienna Lager. Breweries around the world, Pillars Brewery included, are now revisiting this classic, drawn by its rich history and balanced flavour profile. As London’s first lager specialists, brewing a dry and deliciously drinkable Vienna Lager in the UK was high on our agenda. Our brew team loves to experiment with combining Vienna Malt with different Hop varieties to create the unmistakable toasted, bread flavours. 

Head over to our beers page to check out our most recent Vienna Lager release.