Beers had been lagered over summer for centuries in Alpine caves before the emergence of factory-made examples in the late 1830s.  While the best known of these new beers were blond, the first, likely predating Pilsener by five or six years, were darker, in varying degrees.

Wiener (or Vienna Lager)

Typically maltier than a blond lager, a Wiener (4.6-5.4% ABV) should be slightly toasted and with restrained bitterness.  The colour ranges from ruddy amber to light brown, its reddish tints used to come from special Vienna malt, though crystal malt is now more common.  The first commercially produced lager in Austria may well have come from the brewery of Anton Dreher at Schwechat, near Vienna in 1841, now part of Brau AG (Heineken).  Its revival in 2014 has fuelled new interest in the style in Austria and elsewhere. 

Bohemian Polotmavý

Zámecký Pivovar Frýlant’s interpretation of a Polotmavý is a tad more reddish (photo: André Brunnsberg)

This Bohemian style of amber lager tends to be more robust than Wiener (below), with the hop character varying between trivial and significant.  A little diacetyl is allowed, provided it is consistent.  The Czech word polotmavý means “semi-dark” and as with its blond equivalent, two levels of intensity are cited, in this case 11o or 12o Ležák (4.8-5.2% ABV) and 13o or 14o Speciální (5.1-5.7% ABV).

India Pale Lager (or IPL)

Riffing off the theme of an IPA, brewers are still experimenting with this lager yeast variant, seeking out which New World hops go best in what tends to be a light amber brew.  As many commercial examples appear to be fermented with ale yeast we question the long-term viability of this style, or at least its name.