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Austria: Home of Vienna Lager

Austria is a confirmed beer-drinking nation, although the Austrians do not drink with quite the enthusiasm of the Germans. Still, they consume on average approximately 200 pints a year for every man, woman, and child. It is logical that Austria should have a long and noble brewing history, as they have had the essential prerequisite since the dawn of time: pure alpine water. Currently, 73 Austrian breweries turn out about 400 brands of beer, and like Austrian wines, most of these do not find their way into the export market.

Austria gave rise to the Vienna-style lager, though the Bavarians popularized the style with their Oktoberfest beers. Austrians still produce classic Vienna lager, but nowadays a US consumer will more easily find a Vienna lager from Mexico than from Austria. While there is a diverse range of beer available to the consumer within Austria, most exports are pale lagers or pilsners and feature a clean, malty character that make them close cousins to Bavarian lagers. The largest exporter of beer is the Styrian brewer, Gosser, which exports a pilsner-style beer of the same name. In the United States, Stiegl beers from the Stiegl brewery in Salzburg are the next-best-known Austrian brands.

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