In case you need an excuse to enjoy a beer after work today, Dec. 10 happens to be National Lager Day. You may associate lagers with the big macro brewed beers with little body or interesting taste. However, the lack in flavor in those brews has nothing to do with the style.
Just as with ales, there is a wide variety of lagers ranging from American pale lager and steam beer, to Czech Pilsener and Euro lager, to dopplebock, eisbock, German Pilsener, dunkel, and Vienna lager. In fact, there has been a resurgence in the brewing of pre-Prohibition style lagers by many U.S. craft breweries.
Take for example Cigar City Brewing Patio Pils (6% ABV, IBUs 35) with which I will be toasting National Lager Day. This is a lighter style lager, probably better suited for warmer weather, but I say why not. It has a light to medium body with good carbonation. The flavor is grainy with an underlying sweetness, citrus noble hop character, and a crisp clean finish.
Samuel Adams commissioned Wakefield Research to conduct a survey, which concluded that 63 percent of people don’t know the difference between a lager and an ale.
Because Hop Notes readers deserve to be better educated beer fans than the general public, here are five fun facts for your National Lager Day.
- The word “lager” is derived from the German “lager” which means “to store”.
- Lagers are relatively new to the beer scene, first appearing in Bavaria during the 16th century; before that, ales were brewed for over 7,000 years because they are easier to ferment.
- Lager yeast ferments (eats sugar to produce carbonation and alcohol) at cooler temperatures than ale yeast, and when done fermenting, settles to the bottom of the fermentation tank. Lager yeast also takes a longer time to condition the beer than ale yeast.
- Due in part to their clean, crisp character, lagers are sometimes incorrectly perceived as plain and boring. That couldn’t be farther from the truth! Craft lagers are flavorful and complex, and a number of different styles fall under the lager category — including Marzen/Oktoberfest beers, Bock beers like Maibock/Helles Bocks, Pilsners, Dunkelweizens, Rauchbiers and Schwarzbiers, to name a few.
- Before modern refrigeration, brewers needed a way to keep their lagers cool during the brewing process. In lieu of today’s larger cooling tanks, German lager brewers of old sometimes cooled their beer in Alpine caves or in cellars dug deep into hillsides.
Boston Beer Co, brewer of Samuel Adams brands and the largest U.S. craft brewery (according to 2013 data compiled by the Brewer’s Association) will be giving away 30,000 Boston Lager pint glasses throughout the day to celebrate the brewery’s 30th anniversary.
The brewery has also put together a Samuel Adams Boston Lager menu in honor of National Lager Day.
- Breakfast: Samuel Adams MANcakes, Maple Pepper Bacon with Samuel Adams Boston Lager Glaze
- Lunch: Cheeseburger Sliders with Samuel Adams Boston Lager Ketchup, Samuel Adams Boston Lager-Brined Chicken Wings with Boston Lager Red Fresno Sriracha
- Dinner: Bacon Blue Cheese Pigs in a Blanket with Samuel Adams Boston Lager BBQ Sauce, Grilled Samuel Adams Boston Lager Marinated Hanger Steak
- Dessert: Samuel Adams Boston Lager Cupcakes, S’Mores Boston Lager Pudding
Many lagers can be found right here in Michiana. Here is a short list to help you find a proper brew to celebrate:
- Bell’s Brewery Lager of the Lakes (American Pale Lager, 5% ABV)
- Anchor Brewing California Lager (American Pale Lager, 4.9% ABV)
- Anchor Steam Beer (California common, 4.9% ABV)
- Lagunitas Pils (Czech style Pils, 6% ABV)
- Left Hand Pole Star (5.5% ABV, IBUs 33)
- Six Point The Crisp (German Pilsener, 5.4% ABV, IBUs 44)
- Dogfish Head Piercing Pils (Czech Pilsener, 6% ABV, IBUs 35)
- Three Floyds Jinx Proof (5.1% ABV, IBUs 35)
- Ayinger Celebrator (doppelbock, 7.2% ABV)
- Founders Dissenter (imperial india pale lager, 8.7% ABV, IBUs 70)
- Rogue Dead Guy Ale (Germain Maibock, 6.5%, IBUs 40)
- Pilsner Urquell (Czech Pilsener, 4.4% ABV)
- Schneider-Weisse Aventinus Eisbock (12% ABV, IBUs 15)
- Dark Horse Perkolator (coffee dopplebock, 7% ABV)