Friday, March 6, 2009

Lagers to Love, There are More Than a Few Out There

I don't submit for all of these monthly blogging Sessions built around a theme, but #25 is dear to my heart, entitled Love Lagers. As the host The Beer Nut describes it,

"It's the world's most popular style of beer and can be found in abundance in almost every corner of the globe. For millions of people the word "beer" denotes a cold, fizzy, yellow drink -- one which is rarely spoken of among those for whom beer is a hobby or, indeed, a way of life."
I was until quite recently a lager basher. After joining the ale revolution several years ago thanks to mrquartetman, I fell in love with these top fermenting beauties for their aromas, complexities, higher alcohol (gotten over that), and overall wonderful tastes. Ale, after all, was the original beer; weak ones were used in place of food, and were safer than water, by Middle Age folks, both adult and kids, of old Europe.

It was the German's in the 19th century who figured out how to brew with bottom feeding yeast, at colder temperatures, and lagered these brews, or stored them for aging and smoothness. Good beer, well made, then bastardized by the Americans who adopted the German style, if not the purity laws. Lagers were responsible for pushing ales out of America. With the bastardization of adjuncts (corn, rice, etc.) added, our beers became proverbial piss water. So what if people wanted clear beer, this is not champagne folks, although some are starting to push that way.

Well thankfully, home brewing came back in 1978 (thanks Mr. Carter) and ales returned. Many of the thriving micro-brewers who now produce tens of thousands of barrels annually started as homebrewers. American craft brewers, now to mention many homebrewers, have picked up the Lager mantle and are now producing some of the best in the world. In particular, one of my favorite brewers, New Glarus, seems to have the best handle on lager styles. Witness their recent unplugged release of Bohemian Lager. A Lager I can love. The smell and taste are best described by a fellow Chicagoan blogger I know:
The smell is crisp and clean but with a of a balance of aromatic hops and malts. Clean crackery/biscuity and light toffee/caramel malt sweetness intermingles with grassy/floral and semi-spicy noble hoppiness that add a good little bite. I even get some light lemony accents in the smell when I take deep whiffs. If this were a bit more pungent it would smell really amazing.

The taste is even better than the smell. Very bright, crisp, clean, and most importantly - balanced. Crackery/doughy, light toffee, and pale/pils malt sweetness does an intricate and delicate dance with great spicy/floral/grassy hop flavor and bitterness with a seemingly light-oak character. More lightly lemony notes come out as it open up. It has such a great clean profile but still lots of intricate flavors, which I find most pilsners/lagers lack for my tastes.
Yes, this is a lager anyone could love, take that AB and Miller!

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