Thursday, June 15, 2017

Number 90 Red - Vienna Lager at Lion's Tail

Lion's Tail in Neenah recently released Number 90 Red, a Vienna lager. It's style of beer rarely brewed around here. Or anywhere else, really. That wasn't always the case. We’ll get into that in a minute. First, let's get to the Lion's Tail beer.

Number 90 Red

Number 90 Red has a clean, light-toffee aroma leading to a toasty malt flavor. The hops are just for balance. They add a slight dryness to the finish. This beer is a shade darker than a classic Vienna lager, but who gives a shit. This is very good beer. Have it back to back with Lion’s Tail Mile of Munich Dunkel and you’ll get a sense of what it was like to drink beer in Vienna in the 1840s.

Now then... Vienna lager was the brainchild of Anton Dreher of Vienna, Austria.  He first brewed this style in 1841. It was lighter in body and paler in color than the dark lagers then predominant in Austria. Dreher's beer grew wildly popular.

A decade after the introduction of Dreher's beer, there were German brewers heading to Oshkosh. They brought their love of Vienna lager with them. In the late 1800s, Vienna lager was a favorite style among Oshkosh brewers. But brewers here preferred the Germanic nomenclature. They called theirs "Wiener" beer.

At the Glatz Brewery, they were so fond of their Wiener beer they included it on their letterhead in the 1890s

Below is an 1888 ad from the Gambrinus Brewery. Somebody botched the spelling of Wiener.

 Even the very first ad for the Oshkosh Brewing Company made mention of Wiener beer. This is from the Wisconsin Telegraph, May 18, 1894.

With the turn of the century, Vienna lager faded away. Even in Vienna. But in Oshkosh, people never quite lost their taste for it. Peoples Beer, at least until the 1960s, was deeply influenced by the earlier Vienna lagers brewed here.

Number 90 Red at Lion's Tail bears a closer resemblance to those older lagers.  It's a treasure of a beer. Get it while you can...