Over Memorial Day weekend, we took a drive down to Stevensville to check out two of Blacksmith Brewing Co.‘s latest releases: Black Iron IPA and Vienna Lager. Black Iron IPA is back by overwhelming popular demand. Give it a try and you’ll understand why. As I wrote when it first came out, it is a wonderful collision of west coast IPA and some roasted malts. This batch is every bit as good.
New on tap was Blacksmith’s interpretation of a Vienna Lager. According to the beer style guidelines, a Vienna Lager has a malt forward flavor profile with just enough hops to balance the beer nicely. It should have a light toasted flavor from the Vienna malt with a moderately rich malt aroma and a light reddish to copper color. Blacksmith’s version trends a bit more gold than red or copper. It has a good, thick white head and I get a slight floral hop aroma. The flavor has a strong malt base with a medium body and much more hop bitterness than expected. That’s typical of nearly every American version of a European original, though I think the amount of hops here takes it well outside the style guideline. It sits at 5.8% abv and isn’t as crisp as you expect for a lager.
Though I seem critical of the beer, my criticisms only apply to comparing this brew to the style guideline. I think Blacksmith missed on them. There’s simply too much hop aroma and bitterness to fall within what one expects for a Vienna Lager. Ultimately, the beer ends up featuring the hops more than the malt. That said, this is a very enjoyable beer. It is smooth, easy drinking and – style guidelines aside – has a nice balance of malt to hops. Frankly, the extra hops make it a bit more summer kind of beer. I’ll definitely have it again if I can get down there before it runs out.