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 American and German-style pilsner, American-style amber lager, California Common lager, Mexican-style lager, and Munich-style Helles. A new type of craft lager that brewers are producing is called India Pale lager. These lagers are hoppy in flavor, aroma and sometimes bitterness very similar to an IPA. These lagers are being resurrected by craft brewers and are catching on in popularity again.
Pilsners and lighter lagers are great warm weather beers that are refreshing and pair well with food. These are great to enjoy around the pool or at a summer BBQ. Pilsners and light lagers are usually lower in ABV which allows you to have a few and not feel tipsy!
American-style and Mexican-style amber lagers are 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. These beers are an excellent pairing for backyard BBQ’s!
Enjoy the craft lagers and as always, cheers!
Rob McFerren is the owner of Wolf Creek Restaurant & Brewing Co.