As the most popular style of beer in the world, the humble Lager certainly deserves a celebration!
Lager has been brewed since sometime in the early 1500’s when German brewers developed the Saccharomyces Pastorianus strain of yeast. This new yeast form was a game-changer as it worked slower and at lower temperatures making it ideal for cool fermentation.
When German brewers perfected their brewing, they began to focus on lighter, paler beer styles that slowly grew in popularity across Europe. By the Mid-19th century, these German brewers began to move themselves and their beer recipes worldwide, with many settling in the US and creating the seeds of the nation’s beer enthusiasm.
Americans quickly became the premier brewers of all beer, particularly lagers, outpacing every other country in brewing. This is partially because American brewers were better able to keep their lager yeast alive and American’s sheer demand for beer.
There are two categories that almost all beers fall into – ale or Lager, and the difference stems from the type of yeast. Lager yeast ferments at lower temperatures at the bottom of the fermentation tank, this makes it a more difficult brew style to get right, which is why most craft breweries start with ales before making their way to a lager.
Once the brewing is figured out, there are three styles to choose from: self-titled Lager, Pilsner, and Dark Lager. A traditional lager is a crisp, clean beer with a hint of sweetness that builds up a thick, fluffy foam even with a gentle pour. Pair your next pour with roast pork, pizza, fried food, and cookout favorites, and serve in either a stemmed goblet or tall stemmed pilsner glass.
Today’s Pilsners started in the early 1840s in an area called Plzen, in what is now the Czech Republic. As the most popular and beloved form of Lager, the modern Pilsner is lightly flavored, heavily hopped, lower abv, and a pale golden hue. The Pilsner’s benefit is that it’s a perfect pairing for a range of dishes, including simple desserts, many Southeast Asian cuisines, and shellfish. These brews can be served in a variety of ways, including a traditional Pilsner glass, a Strange, a Pint beer mug, or even a flute glass.
Finally, there’s Dark Lager, which is more common in the US than Europe and features a smokier, richer flavor profile. Within this category, you’ll find names like Vienna Lager, Oktoberfest, Doppelbock, and Bock. These are best paired with more decadent foods like smoked meats, blue cheese, and barbecue and served in a stemmed goblet style glass.