One interesting trend in the world of craft beer is the recent movement towards making straightforward lager beer. In the past, lagers had been generally reserved for the large domestic breweries. Early craft brewers would generally gravitate towards a blonde on wheat beer as their light option. This is for a few reasons. First of all, it is a common misconception that lagers are easy to make. In fact, lagers are probably one of the most difficult styles to brew. It requires an additional step, resting (or “lagering”) the beer at cold temperatures. I was once told if you want to know the quality of a brewery, taste their pilsner, not their IPA for instance which can easily mask flaws with high quantity of hops.
Today, many more breweries are stepping up to the plate a brewing lager styles. This recent trend has sparked a debate within the beer community. If you want a nice refreshing lager, why not just drink a Bud? What really is the difference? I think the answer is that if Bud or Coors or Miller is your lager of choice, enjoy it. These beers have for years been the staple for lager. However, I do suggest that you try some craft options to try something new, and maybe discover a new favorite. One key difference between craft lagers and domestic lagers is the use of adjuncts. Most domestic beers like Budweiser, Miller, Coors or Pabst use either rice or corn in the grain bill. This typically thins out the body of the beer. Most craft lager is probably brewed using all grain, which will provide a slightly more full body and malt flavor.
There are some great options for craft lager here at West Vail Liquor Mart. First, I would have to give credit to Upslope for their Craft Lager, which was definitely ahead of the trend and is the most popular choice in Upslope’s awesome core lineup at our store at least. Tivoli Brewing out of Denver also makes some great lager beer including their self titled Helles Lager. Of the new wave of craft lagers that have popped up in the last few years, I would say my favorite is Odell Brewing’s Colorado Lager, available in 15 packs of 12oz cans or 6pks of 16oz tall boys. Also, don’t forget about the definitive lager style, Pilsner, which can often feature a bit more of a bitter hoppy flavor. A standout in craft Pilsner is Elevation Brewing’s Pilsner. It has a great balance of flavor and refreshment.
Not everyone is crazy about this new trend, but personally I think it is a very good thing for brewing. Not only does it expand upon the typical style choices in craft brewing, but it also provides an avenue for domestic beer drinkers to try something new that is relatable and easy to drink. Not everyone likes huge flavors like those featured in a Double IPA or Imperial Stout. Sometimes in warm weather or during outdoor activity it is nice to have an easy drinker that quenches your thirst and tastes great. I would suggest you try the expanding selection of craft lagers for this very purpose.
– Dean Lorusso, Beer Buyer, West Vail Liquor Mart