Cheers! It’s National Lager Day
Anthony Dyer, Raley’s Beer Expert
Learn what makes Anthony an expert.
What do Corona, Bud Light and Stella Artois have in common? They’re all lager beers, of course! Lager is a German-founded beer style that’s usually lighter in color with mild flavors. The word “lager” is derived from the German word lagern, meaning “to store,” which refers to the amount of time it takes a lager to ferment.
In the Middle Ages brewers in Bavaria started using a strain of yeast that allowed for beer to ferment at colder temperatures that would have caused ale yeasts to shut down. With the colder fermenting temperature came longer fermentation times. These beers were stored away in caves during winter months and allowed to ferment undisturbed, producing a beer that had fewer by-products than its ale beer counterpart.
Since the beer had fewer impurities it showcased more subtle flavors from the hops and malt blends it was made with. This offered a cleaner, smoother and crisper flavor profile, which makes these beers easier to consume for most people. While this style of beer offers easy drinkability, it also leaves little room for error during the brewing process. Good lagers are much more difficult to produce than ale beers because the liquid in lagers leaves all the flavors of the brewing process right at your palate, good or bad. The smallest errors can cause the beer to be unbalanced and undesirable to drink.
You might think that with the difficulty and time it takes to make a good lager they’d be rare, but that’s not the case. Lagers are the most commonly produced beers in the world even though many of the mass-produced lagers are criticized by beer experts for being bland and flavorless.
With two craft breweries opening every day on average, the craft beer resurgence has many brewers who are developing inventive and innovative flavors in the lager beer style. Look for some interesting variations in the future.
The great flavors and subtle nuances of the lager beer style are truly something that deserves to be recognized and celebrated. Here’s to lagers, cheers!