Most Craft Breweries today brew ales and craft lagers are sometimes overlooked. Today we will look at some different styles of craft lagers and what makes them different. The brewing process is the same but where the difference comes in to play is during fermentation and aging. Lager beers use Lager yeast strains which take a minimum of 4-6 weeks for fermentation and aging, and this is usually done at much cooler temperatures than Ale beers. Craft brewed Ales take a total of 2-3 weeks to ferment and age, and are fermented at warmer temperatures. In the time it takes to brew one Lager, Craft Brewers can brew two and sometimes three Ales in that time and this is one of the many reasons most Craft Brewers choose Ales.
There are many types of Craft-brewed Lagers but some of the more popular ones being brewed today are German-Style Marzen, American-Style Amber Lager, California Common, Mexican-style Lager, German-Style Schwazbier, and Munich-Style Helles. A brand new type of Craft Lager that brewers are producing is called India Pale Lager. These Lagers are hoppy in flavor, aroma and sometimes bitterness similar to an IPA. These Lagers are being resurrected by Craft Brewers and are catching on in popularity again.
German-Style Marzen is the very popular Oktoberfest brew that’s pale to reddish brown in color and has a great, toasted sweet malt profile. These beers are especially popular during Oktoberfest but are consumed year round. Look for quite a few Oktoberfest-style beers that will hit the shelves in the next couple of months.
American-Style Amber Lagers are great session type beers that are gold to amber in color and have a great caramel/toasted malt character with hop bitterness ranging from low to medium. California Common style beer was resurrected by Anchor Brewing and is amber in color with caramel malt flavors and a big hop presence with a slight fruitiness.
Enjoy the Craft Lagers and as always, Cheers!
Rob McFerren is the owner of Wolf Creek Restaurant & Brewing Co.