As a beer loving community the Sommbeer crew has decided to do a series of collaborative post’s that we will be calling “Sommbeer’s Favorites”. The purpose of these posts are just to give a brief look at some of each contributors favorite brews are of a particular style. This post is dedicated to Sommbeer’s favorite Lagers.
My favorite lager? That’s an easy one – Samuel Adams Boston Lager. Growing up in NY listening to the Mets on WFAN, between innings I constantly heard a guy with a weird voice talking about his beer that passed the German purity law. I had no idea what he was talking about, but it always stuck with me that when I came of age (or at least close), that would be the beer I drank. Not only did Boston Lager introduce me to craft beer, but I had the great fortune to work for Jim Koch for 5 years. As much as I have always loved Boston Lager with its great citrus and pine notes from the Hallertau hops (when I drank it at work in the morning, the grapefruit character always shined through for me), seeing the care and love that Jim puts into his beers – especially this one – made me love the beer even more. It may get a bad rap as “the craft beer to drink when there’s no craft beer around” due to its ubiquity, but I think Boston Lager remains one of the best, most flavorful and perfectly balanced beers on the market.
My favorite Lager? I don’t have one. I struggled for days with this post, trying to determine what craft beer lager I liked and realized it doesn’t exist. It doesn’t exist because my favorite lager isn’t craft beer at all. It’s from big (m)ass breweries – actually I have two. Moose head was one of my first lagers that I sought out when I got tired of Labatts. This was in my youth before I had spare change and a refined palette. Today my goto Lager is Yuengling. This is hands down my favorite beer (lager or ale) when the thermometer goes 90+. Granted there’s some controversy about Yuengling being defined as a craft beer (it’s not).
It is simply a good beer, made for hot summer days
I have been off the Lager train for quite a while so I need to dig deep for this one. Currently I really like Sierra Nevada Beer Camp Hoppy Lager but I can’t call it my favorite (I have rules that were explained in the joint IPA post). In spite of the green bottle and the propensity for skunking, I am going to have to go with Heineken as my favorite lager. One reason that I like Heineken is that it was my first Martial Arts Instructor’s favorite beer. I trained in Aikido under Takashi Kushida-sensei until he passed in 2010. Many times after hard training and every time during Aikido parties, Heineken was the main beer used for toasts. There would be a strong “Osu”, then you would drink whatever was in your glass, and fill up again. The taste of cold Heineken after hard training was very difficult to beat.
A couple other reasons to like Heineken: a line from 90’s rappers Black Sheep, “Chill count to ten and bring me back a Heineken”, and the iconic line from Dennis Hopper in Blue Velvet (edited for content) “Heineken! Blank that blank, PABST BLUE RIBBON!” There is a great alternative Dutch style lager that you can get at Trader Joe’s named Oranjeboom. Oranjeboom is sold in a pint can and tastes better than Heineken, but there are no good rap song, movie lines, or memories associated with Oranjeboom. “Chill count to ten and bring me back an Oranjeboom just does not work so it will have to stay at #2.
I actually love pale lagers. Because as much as I love a well made IPA or stout or saison sometimes I just don’t want a beer that’s that intense or complex. Sometimes I just want it to be cold and crisp and refreshing. And in those moments I reach for a Peroni. Yes, the beer described by some tasters on ratebeer.com as “horrible,” “bland,” and “not a good beer” is my jam. Also saying anything is my jam is definitely not my jam. Why did I type that? Am I going crazy? What were we talking about? Was it lasagna? Hang on. Let me look. Oh yeah. Peroni.
I think it comes from a time in my life where I was traveling to Montreal a lot for work. And we went to this great Italian restaurant. Le Latini (RIP). Man it was so good. You like shrimp scampi? Cause you should’ve had theirs. But you can’t now. Its closed. Anyway, we’d get there and get a Peroni after a long day’s work and it just tasted so good. And when I drink one I harken back to a time that was pretty good for me professionally and personally.
I am not saying it’s a great beer. But it’s mine. And I love it.
I have a real soft spot for a good lager; lagers are extremely versatile when it comes to pairing a beer with food and they go over pretty well when sharing with friends, especially friends that might not be beer nuts. My personal favorite lager is Short’s Brewing Company’s Howlin’ Chinaski. I’m not going to over kill my reasoning for liking this beer I just find it to be a enjoyable beer that I make a point of grabbing whenever I see it on the shelve, even buying some of the Short’s variety packs just to grab a couple more bottles of this gem. If anyone from Short’s see’s this I hope that the beer gets moved into their flagship lineup, I for one would make a point of buying quite a bit more Howlin Chinaski.
Kronenbourg 1664 – Brasseries Kronenbourg
I think 1664 would be my favorite lager because it goes well with anything. It’s a nice beer to drink when the weather is warm and you just want to hang out. It’s not filling. I’m not a big lager drinker, I like hops, but after finding this it’s the go to when i want something light. Of course I didn’t discover this until after college years, college was Busch light fueled. Cough. This has a nice after taste and is just a good beer.
Picking a favorite lager is no easy task. For one, a recent trend within the craft-brew world is a rise in Imperial Pale Lagers and hoppy lagers, which is quite appealing to many craft-brew geeks. For example, Sierra Nevada’s most recent seasonal product, Beer Camp, is a highly regarded hoppy lager that I happen to enjoy immensely. As a result, you get the bitterness associated with an ale added to one’s lager. And, of course, there are a litany of classical, amber bocks, and many more varieties of lagers to consider.
Craft brew drinkers rarely rate lagers among their favorite beers, and I’m no different. However, notably during the summer, kicking back with a cold-brewed beer can be incredibly refreshing. It’s not that the craft brew world doesn’t care about lagers. In fact, many brewmasters train in Germany, Belgium, and other places that made lagers famous. That German influence helped propel Milwaukee, with its cold Lake Michigan water, into the center of the U.S. brewing universe for quite some time. However, unlike the beers that made Milwaukee famous, craft brewers avoid brewing a beer that, when poured into a glass, smells and tastes as if it needs a wedge of urinal cake as a garnish.
One such quality lager that I consider my favorite hales from Ohio: Great Lakes Brewing Company’s Dortmunder Gold. It’s malty, slightly sweet and acidic from the addition of citrus, and has a great taste of grain – each taste feels like a piece of Nebraska ends up in your belly. Then, throw in a little bit of hops and you have an insanely well-balanced lager. The Dortmunder is the perfect summer beer for grilling, camping, or sitting on the deck – magnificent in its simplicity.
One of my favorite lagers has to be Wandering Pelican from Great Lakes Brewing Co and Cigar City Brewing. Wandering Pelican is a collaboration between Cigar City Brewing in Tampa Florida and Great Lakes Brewing Co in Cleveland Ohio. They described this brew as homage to the Pelican who happened to travel between states into uncharted territory and became the unlikely visitor, and friend to so many.
This beer is very coffee forward, with rich and sweet toffee like notes; Medium cream colored head, dark brown body, and a touch of chocolate lingering in each sip. Wandering Pelican is a Black Lager ravishingly roasty, beautifully bold, and not to mention creatively complimented with floral hops. I particularly enjoy this beer because of its bold notes but drinkable body.
I consider a brew to be a huge success if there is something distinguishable about the beer, but the brew itself is still able to maintain a somewhat drinkable character.That is what I love about this beer; It keeps your palate entertained but doesn’t destroy your palate. A perfect balance I know I mentioned the roast notes before, but the burnt flavor really does do this beer great justice!
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