In case you missed the first post, this is the second post in a mini-series focused on my top recommended beer styles. If you haven’t already done so, go back and read my previous post: #5: Sours – Lambics, Gueuzes & Wild Ales!
This post is part of a mini-series – See all posts in this series
I think too many of us (myself included) get comfortable with a certain style or beer and tend to ignore other styles that don’t appeal to us as much. When I look at a beer menu, I generally find myself ordering ales, not lagers. But when the right moment comes along—like a hot day at the beach or the perfect food pairing—I will drink a lager. So why am I writing a whole post recommending lagers when they’re not my go-to beer?
First of all, it’s not all about me. This post is for you. And your friends who want to learn to like craft beer (and maybe some who don’t!). This series is also about branching out and expanding your palate, and I can’t think of a better way to do that than to write about a category that I’m still expanding on myself.
I’m constantly trying to find and drink new beers that I haven’t had before, including those of which are styles I typically don’t gravitate towards. And let me tell you, I’m usually pleasantly surprised with what I find! The moral of this story: if you can set aside your preconceived notions, you will begin to open your mind (and palate) to new options.
Although I’ve already admitted that lagers aren’t personally my beer of choice most days, I can appreciate them for what they are. Easily described as clean, crisp and refreshing, these beers work great for those long summer days, and are by far the most popular choice at any given sporting event. For those of you with friends that swear by Coors, Bud Light or any of the other crappy big-name beers, craft lagers make for an easy and welcoming upgrade to their world of possible beer choices.
Lagers are fundamentally different than ales. Brewed with different yeast strains, ales are “top-fermented,” and require a warmer temperature to ferment. Ales are also quick to ferment, usually ready for bottling in just 1 to 2 weeks. Lagers, however, are “bottom-fermented,” require colder temperatures, and can take up to 6 weeks for fermentation to complete. Ale yeast is generally hardier, meaning it’s more conducive to the production of high ABV beers. By comparison, the slower, more fragile lager yeast typically produces less alcohol.
Now for some brief history. Lagers were first brewed in Bavaria, Germany in the early nineteenth century. The word “lager” comes from the German lagern, meaning “to store,” which makes sense when you think about the prolonged period of cold storage needed for fermentation. Before refrigeration was conceived, German brewers would store the beer in caves filled with ice from nearby lakes and rivers to keep the beer cold during warmer months. They would also plant chestnut trees to provide shade to the area, a concept which developed into the modern beer garden.
To say lagering is an artistry would be an understatement. There’s a huge range of both domestic and imported lagers to choose from. Some of the most popular varieties include Bocks, Doppelbocks, Helles Bocks, Munich Dunkels, Pilsners, Schwarzbiers and Vienna Lagers.
By now, I hope I’ve inspired you to go out pick up at least one new lager on your next beer run! If so, may I suggest…
- Bottle Logic – Lagerithim
- Maui Brewing – Bikini Blonde Lager
- Weihenstephaner Original
- Gordon Biersch – Schwarzbier
- Gordon Biersch – Blonde Bock
- Great Lakes Brewing – Eliot Ness
Lager lovers, comment below to let me know what your favorites are! Who knows, it could end up being the subject of a future post!
Come back tomorrow to see what my #3 recommendation will be. Until then, follow me on Instagram or subscribe below!