Monday, January 16, 2012

Beer style of the week; Easy-drinking Lagers

Week 48

After celebrating our 12 Beers of Christmas with a staggering assortment of palette-rasping Extreme Beers, it’s time we slowed down a bit to renew and refresh our taste buds.

Easy-drinking lagers require a bit of concerted effort to capture the mild fragrant aromas and subtly pleasing flavors they offer. These beers never screech or shout. They whisper sweet nothings. We can (but, probably shouldn’t) operating machinery after enjoying a few. They’re clean, light, refreshing, palette-caressing, easy-drinking Lagers. The ABV should be no greater than 5.1%

Go to Top Beers; And check out all the delicate Lagers in the Top 100. I’ll crack open a beer while you read…..…

Welcome back! Are you surprised? Only one Lager of any kind under 6.7% ABV made the list. And that came in at #93. WHAT!!???!!?!!

The reality is that people are gravitating towards bigger, wilder, funkier, brasher, bolder beers. Is that a bad thing? Glad you asked…Only if too many quality brewers stop making these highly finessed lagers. Creating a delicate and crisp lager, and having it come out right is far more difficult than chucking massive quantities of roasted barleys, barrels of hops and fruits in a brew kettle and aging it in whiskey vats. Nothing wrong with that either, I’m just saying…

Anyway, enough of my pining for the golden days…sniff, sniff…I do remind myself each and every day that we’re all lucky to be living in the very best time in the history of beer-making. We have so many brewers creating styles and sub-styles than we’ll ever be able taste in a lifetime (I am willing to keep trying, though). The point is; Do yourself a favor. Every now and then, drink some of these lovely smaller beers. Get back to the basic roots and take the time to examiner and savor a beer. It will re-kindle that flame you had the very first time you tasted a well-craft beer, plus you’ll refresh your palette so you can, once again fully appreciate the Extremes. That’s my plan, at least!

From the Lands of Origin

Weihenstephaner Original - Bayerische Staasbrauerei Weihenstephan – Freising, Germany – 5.1% ABV

Served in a tall spiraled Weihenstephaner glass.

It pours a bright pale golden color with a foamy 2” snow-white head. Webby and trailing lacing cling ½ way down the glass.
A fresh lightly roasted grainy aroma dominates. Fresh cut hay comes to mind. A spicy and floral hop nose inch forward, as does a slight fruity smell.
Tastes of sweet Farina and a mildly metallic tang are upfront. A spicy hop bitterness slowly merges. A minor, but noticeable mineral taste remains in the background throughout. A mild alcoholic fuminess is perceived late in the breath.
The body is a bit more full and rounded than it looks. Once the carbonation subsides, it invites huge thirst-quenching gulps. Nice Beer!

Viru – AS Tartu Olletehas – Tarhu, Estonia – 5% ABV

The most unusual brown bottle in Beerdom. Best before date is supposed to be on the cap, but none there.
Unfairly listed, and then bashed as an American Adjunct Lager on BeerAdvocate, but is really more of a German Pilsner with Saaz hops and Baltic malts.
It pours a very pale golden color with a 2" snow-white head and some sticky and trailing lace.
The aroma is mostly grassy malt and a lightly citrus and resinous hop. A mild smell of wild flowers is in the distance.
A taste of white crackers carries a very light dose of lime-like hops. A hint of herbs and an odd salinity in the aftertaste throws things off a bit, but not too far.
This isn't a bad beer...Very very gulpable lager.


Samuel Smith’s Organically Produced Lager – Tadcaster, England – 5% ABV

This is perhaps one of the most drinkable lagers on the planet...perhaps the entire universe. Pours out a deep golden color with a puffy and foamy white head. The lace lingers and fades slowly, leaving spotty traces. The aroma is of sweet caramel malt; a faint whiff of fruit and light floral hops arouses the senses. The lightly herbal and slightly sweet malt is a perfect complement to the citrusy and tea-like hops. This heavenly liquid is balanced, rounded and smooth, but flavorful. The complexion and flavors change ever so subtly as the glass warms and the change is good. One is not enough!

New England Reps

Sam Adams Light Lager – Boston Beer Company – Boston, Massachusetts – 4% ABV

This is the lightest brew of this week’s selection.

Deep Gold in color with a nice white fizzy head. Light, slightly rye-bready herbal malt. Floral hop aroma with a light sweet malt fragrance. Fairly high in metallic and light citrus hops. Malty for a Light. IMHO, the best Light beer to date.

Thomas Hooker Munich Style Lager – Thomas Hooker Ales & Lagers -
Pours a pale yellow golden color with a solid snow-white head and some webby and trailing lacing throughout.

The aroma carries a mild noble hoppiness and a grainy bread smell upfront. A light whiff of wild flowers and herbs peeks through.

The flavors are very balanced. The lightly roasted malt has a touch of sweetness. The hops provide some metallic tang and a mild lime-like citrusy bitterness.

While the body is light in color, it has some depth. As the spritzy carbonation fades, a rounded caramel sweetness emerges providing a slick and refreshing, gulpable brew. Lots of flavors for a fairly small beer!

Long live the Easy-Drinking Lagers!


Quote: "In wine there is wisdom. In beer is strength. In water is bacteria." - German saying

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