I think that when most of us think of lagers we usually think of mass produced American beer such as Budweiser or Coors. However, in reality lagers are made in all types across many different countries.
Lager is one of two branches of beer, the other is Ale. These two categories of beer are differentiated by both their yeast strains and how they are treated before bottling. Lager yeast is “cleaner” than ale yeast. It is supposed to create a beer that is refreshing and crisp. Lager yeast also prefers to ferment at lower temperatures than ale yeast. This only further cleans up the beer, making a super drinkable product. Generally, lagers do not contain the fruity esters which are present in most ale. The body of lagers is much thinner and aims for palate cleansing refreshment rather than complex flavors that can develop in ales.
However, not all lager is basic. There are so many different types that I decided to try our staff out on a blind tasting of various lager beer styles in order to eliminate bias and decide which we preferred. Here are some lager styles that you might be familiar with…
American Adjunct Lager (American Common Lager)
India Pale Lager
Baltic Porter (mostly)
California Common (at ale temps)
Cream Ales (kinda sometimes)
In our blind tasting we tried:
Pilsner Urquell (Czech Pilsner)
Coors Banquet (American Adjunct Lager)
Weihenstephaner Original (Munich Helles)
Modelo Especial (International Light Lager)
Upslope Craft Lager (American Lager)
In some blind tastings there are great unforeseen results. However, in this tasting everyone seemed to have a different favorite lager. I think the lesson here was that there is a lager for all tastes. Try them all and see what you prefer!
Dean LoRusso, Beer Buyer, West Vail Liquor Mart