Craft Beer Adventures – In Search of a Great Lager

Lagers suck ass. Or at least that has been my default reaction for many craft beer years.  When it comes to craft beer I’m an Ale guy.  From your big bold in-your-face American Imperial IPA to your deep, rich, dark fruit Belgian and Trappist Ales.

In my older, non-craft beer days I drank my fair share of Lagers.  Besides your American Macro Lagers there were some good ones found overseas: Grolsch and Harp chief among them.  But my favorite beer for a long time was Bass Ale.

Since my migration to craft beers my initial forays into Craft Beer Lagers were met with reactions from mild boredom to outright disgust. From what’s the point? to DRAINPOUR! And then 2014 rolled around and I was determined to expand my craft beer experience and search for the two styles that interested me the least: Brown Ales (my rare Ale dislike) and Lagers.  And I have to say, after spending the first part of 2014 exploring the Lager world I’ve discovered some pretty fantastic beers.

The Best

Let me start with what I now consider the best Lager on the planet:  Weihenstephaner Original, a Munich Helles Lager.

Weihenstephaner_OriginalAs I wrote when I tasted this for the first time: This is a Munich Helles Lager and probably the best of it’s style in the world my opinion. Just an absolutely fantastic beer. Crisp with a nice light floral and fruit taste.” 

While I had expected to find some nice Lagers I never expected to discover one I would love.  And this is one of two that I have come to love.

With a quick check in Untappd here’s my breakdown of Lagers.  And the list is way longer than I ever expected it would be.  I don’t think of myself as drinking a Lager often but that’s due to just not thinking of certain styles as actually being in the Lager family.

The Tally

American Amber / Red Lager – 1
Berliner Weisse – 2
Baltic Porter – 2
Black Lager – 2
Czech Pilsner – 2
Dopplebock – 3
Dunkelweizen – 2
Euro Lager – 2
German Pilsner – 3
Golden Lager – 2
Hefeweizen – 14
Helles Lager – 3
India Pale Lager – 1
Kristallweizen – 2
Kölsch – 3
Oktoberfest/Märzen – 2
Pale Lager – 2
Pilsner – 2
Vienna Lager – 1
Weizwenbock – 1

I tend to break Lagers down into these 3 main groups:
European Lagers
American Lagers
Hefe/Bock Lagers

And here are my personal highlights of each:

European Lager:

Weiihenstephaner Original (see pic and description above)

American Lager:

Kiwi Rising – Jack’s Abby
To me this is the Great American Lager.  Jack’s Abby took everything I love about a big West Coast tropical IPA and made a Lager version.  In fact, when it comes to American Lagers no one is doing it better or more innovative than Jack’s Abby.  All they brew is Lager beer.  In every style and variation you can imagine.  From big hoppy beers to smoked dark lagers to Marzens and everything in between.  Hunt their beers down and enjoy.  You will not be disappointed.



Anchor California Lager
This beer impressed me.  I am not a fan of their Steam beer and had low expectations going into this one.  To my surprise and delight this was delicious.  Light and crisp and refreshing.








Hefe/Bock Lagers

Schneider Weisse Tap 6 Aventinus.
This is a world class beer.  It takes the big bold malty sweetness of the Bock and smooths it out with wheat.  This is not a beer to skip over.








Weihenstephaner Dunkel
While I love their Hefeweissbier, I’m sightly more partial to the Dunkel or dark version.  Another world class beer.  In fact, I have yet to have a beer from Weihenstephaner in any style that I don’t consider world class.







So, in the end, while taking this journey I discovered a few things.  The Lager is a beer that comes in a wide variety of styles.  Anyone growing up on the American Macro Lager would have no idea that the Lager was so storied and diverse.  And while the Ale is still my go to realm of the craft beer world I no longer frown and sigh with resignation when it comes time to explore the world of Lagers.  I’ve found a couple of beers that hold their own with anything else out there.  And I still have my few drain pours.  That’s the one thing I’ve found most interesting about my Lager Craft Beer Adventure.  The few Lager drainpours that made me hesitant to take this journey remain drainpours for me.  Which actually makes me feel better about the whole thing.  At first I thought I just didn’t have an appreciation for a Lager.  Instead I just got unlucky and started out with those couple of Lagers tat do indeed suck ass.  Thankfully, it was just a few.

Related Links:

LAGER – Light/Amber/Dark – Friday Night Hangout (Ep. 156)

Craft Beer Nation BJCP Reviiew

This playlist covers many of the various Lager categories from the viewpoint of the Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP)




Folio Weekly Beer Festival

Last month I went to the Folio Weekly Beer Festival, featuring regional beer choices and food trucks. I should have gotten the all-you-can-drink pass because each pour was only 4 ounces. I spent time in a few long lines, and then gravitated to the shorter ones.

I liked the two I had from Green Room Brewing Company: Diamond and Pablo Beach Pale Ale. I had an Aardwolf that I really liked, but I unfortunately can’t remember the name or type. For the first time ever, I had a Founders I *didn’t* like (All Day IPA). I’ve loved every other Founders I’ve had, though. This one was a bit rough—a bit too harsh.

I liked the Big Storm Brewing I had (Arcus IPA). I had a Unibrou I liked (Ephemere Pomme). It was light and fruity. The Big Nose IPA was a solid choice from Swamp Head Brewing Company. I was quite happy with the Southern Tier selection, “Live.”

The food was really good; I love me some food trucks. I had a carnita and a sausage dog with Duke’s Brown Ale sauce, onions and peppers.

Of course, this being Florida, it had to storm for 20 minutes. That thinned out the crowd, though, which meant I could go back for more beer with little time waiting.



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The Craft Beer Nation is all about beer, good beer. We love everything about this beverage and love to share that enthusiasm. If you are a craft beer lover then welcome home! We do beer reviews, beer hangouts, brewery interviews, beer making, and of course lots of drinking. Whatever your question is, just find a subcategory and fire it off. Odds are someone here can offer an answer.




Category 1: Light Lager – BJCP Review Session | Craft Beer Nation

Tune in to watch some Certified BJCPs of various ranks hangout with some +Craft Beer Nation folks as they review a category of the style guidelines. There will be drinking and conversation, but we will be keeping more to the subject at hand for these than we traditionally do for our Friday Night Hangout.

These sessions are a way to review and prepare for the BJCP exams. Ask questions here in this event.



Drinker’s Choice #07 – Friday Night Hangout | Craft Beer Nation

Sooo….many of us got thrown off by the long weekend and totally forgot about the Friday Night Hangout last night. If not for the dedication of +Boris Castillo, +Lola Lariscy, and +James R, our streak of continuous Friday nights (more than two years!) would have been ruined. In the name of simplicity, they chose Drinker’s Choice for December 6th. This is a great chance for some new to HoA folks to grab something…ANYTHING…from the fridge and log in to hangout. Don’t be afraid. We don’t bite. (Well, some do, but they have had all their shots)