Guide to Lager Style Beers
Lager beers account for larger worldwide annual liquid volume consumption than ales, due primarily to the popularity and ubiquity of crisp, pale lagers produced in every brewing country around the globe.
Easy-drinking pale lager is also the beer associated by most with the term “lager,” with visions of this ice cold yellow-gold liquid planted firmly in people’s consciousness through television and print advertising.
Lager represents some of the most approachable, easy-drinking beer styles in the universe of beer, which contributes to its consumption edge over ale, despite the fact that ale styles are more numerous and were first consumed thousands of years before lagering/cold-aging took hold.
While multiple styles of lager that originated in Europe centuries ago constitute the majority of those brewed throughout the world today, popular styles born in the United States and Asia continue to add variety to the many classic European (Old World) lagers.
So many more lagers await discovery from adventuresome drinkers in styles that cover the color spectrum from amber, red and brown and all the way to virtually black, and they offer flavors and mouth-feel from biscuity-crisp and hoppy to chocolaty-smooth and malty.
Lagers are brewed using yeast strains that ferment at cooler temperatures. These strains are often called "bottom-fermenting yeasts" because fermentation takes place at or near the bottom of the fermentation vessel. Cooler temperatures generally result in a longer (than ale) fermentation and aging process for lager production (lager means “to store” in German). Lager yeasts, due to the cooler temperatures, tend not to produce esters, thus imparting a cleaner, smoother character in the beer, something for which lagers are generally known.
The Pint Glass, Nonic, and Beer Mug are great standbys for virtually all lagers. Lagers with spritzy carbonation, such as Pilsners and most other yellow-golden colored lagers, go well in tall, narrow glassware, such as a Pilsner glass, stange or flute, which all showcase a lager’s bubbles. These glasses are also good picks for Doppelbocks and Eisbocks, along with a beer snifter.
Typically filtered, lagers do not have yeast in the bottle, therefore, a full pour from the bottle is fine. A strong pour will maximize head formation and release the aromas, which are mild in many lager styles. Notice the clarity of the beer as the bubbles settle to the top of the glass, and commence your enjoyment.