"Let us take, again, the reduction of the duty on Vienna beer. We are told that this reduction may possibly improve the quality of our English beer. And why at the universal competition amongst European brewers, which took place in 1867, England, although not satisfactorily represented, kept a place of honour. Is Vienna beer so much better than English beer? If an answer in the affirmative can be maintained, then it may be fairly retorted that the best way to improve English beer is to emancipate the brewer from the preposterous load of taxation under which he now works."
Lloyd's Weekly Newspaper - Sunday 18 April 1869, page 1.
I have to agree about the preposterous load of taxation. It's even worse now than it was back then. At least in the 19th century they were honest about beer taxation. It was one of the most important sources of revenue of the government. They didn't try to pretend the level of taxation was to help public health or promote temperance. All that hypocrisy came later.
Was Vienna Beer better than English beer? Probably not. Unless you count fizziness as a sign of quality. It was certainly different in character and flavour from English beer.
And here's the arrival of Vienna Beer in Manchester
"THE STOCK EXCHANGE LUNCHEON-ROOMS.
NEWMARKET-ST. and BACK POOL FOLD, CROSS-STREET,
with the WINES Bodega Company, Bass's PALE ALE, Reid's Imperial STOUT, and Dreher's VIENNA BEER."
Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser - Monday 02 August 1869, page 1.
I'm going to make a wild guess here and say that the Stock Exchange Luncheon Rooms must have been pretty posh. Which is probably why Lager appeared there so early. You know what posh people are like - they'll drink any muck as long as its expensive enough that the plebs can't afford it.
Again, it's only about a year after Lager hit London. I blame newspapers for spreading information about foreign beer. Bloody modern media.