An Introduction to Lagers

Posted by BeerMaven | Lager | Posted on January 16th

For the last hundred years, lagers have dominated the beer market. You are able to access a fair share of microbrew lagers and all of the macro breweries market a lager and its very light cousin, the pilsner. However, when I speak about lagers and pilsners, I am not going to be talking about Miller, Coors, or Budweiser. Lager appreciation explores the different types of lagers and what to look for in this crisp, clean variety of beer.

Lagers are brewed in cold temperatures and use bottom fermenting yeast. Unlike ales, lagers need to be served cold, and exactly how cold depends on the individual lager. These beers are more known for their floral aromas and hoppy flavors than for having a malty or roasty character to them. Lagers are also very light in color and usually give off a golden appearance with a white head, with the exception of a few dark lagers that I will get into later.

Pilsners, Dortmunder lagers and true lagers are all lighter beers and are very high on drinkability. Lagers tend to be great session beers due to their low alcoholic content and light character. I think that this is why lagers are such great sellers. I personally wouldn’t pair too many lagers with food, but at a barbecue, they are refreshing and I can push them back one after the other without getting tipsy.

Lighter lagers tend to be more bland and watery and the main source of flavor is in the hops, which give a sweet taste in the front followed by a light kick on the back end. When you want to begin a transition into beers that have more character, you may wish to look at the Dunkel, Märzen or Bock styles, which are darker and stronger lagers. Bocks are a seasonal variety of beer and you will only find them in springtime, but they offer a much deeper character to the traditional lager and tend to be red to brown in color.

During the spring, beer clubs actually make a huge deal over the Bock style and reviewers will usually make a point to visit a number of old and new Bocks on the market to give their opinions on how each brewer has done that year. When the weather begins to get warmer, Bocks provide a nice source of refreshment without the expense of the deep character I always appreciate when I am choosing my beer.

2 Responses to “An Introduction to Lagers”

  1. I disliked the day when the whole United States was seen as a single market and watery lagers from a few big brewers dominated the whole market.

    The microbrewery revolution that’s come to the forefront in the last several decades is ignighting interest in regional beers and food.

    Which brings up the important question. Where is Beer Club Guide located?

    Just as I prefer to know the region that produced a beer, I like knowing the area that produced a beer blog.

  2. BeerMaven says:

    Portland, OR. Where are you from?

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