The Spectacle Blog

Three Beers For Your Weekend: Lagers

By on 2.21.14 | 11:32AM

Last Friday, I described the lager: a brew defined by its bottom-fermenting, cold temperature yeasts. Lagers, contrary to American opinion, can be any color or any strength. I’ve had black lagers before which were delicious.

After prohibition ended, the pale lager, under the auspices of Anheuser-Busch and MillerCoors, became the American standard. This style was popular around the country, whether it was Budweiser, Schlitz, or Rolling Rock of Deer Hunter fame.  

There’s a reason these beers are great: They’re everyday session beers. They’re easy to quaff, and they quench your thirst without leading you to complete inebriation. Because you can drink them year-round, I present three great ones to you here at the end of winter.

1. Sly Fox Helles Golden LagerSly Fox Brewery, Phoenixville, Penn.

“Helles” is German for pale. The style originated in Munich in 1894. Similar to pilsners, the Helles style is golden, crisp, and dry.*

A friend from Pennsylvania, where I went to college, introduced me to this satisfying beer. Other than it being a quality brew at 4.9 percent ABV, buy it for the pop tab can. Check it out.

2. Atlas District CommonAtlas Brew Works, Washington, D.C.

This beer is local to D.C, so it may be difficult to get for those outside the Eastern Seaboard. This lager is unique as it is brewed at slightly warmer temperatures, which allows for more flavors than a regular lager.

When I tried it—I ended up having two or three—I recorded its unique finish of “toasted malts.” (I use the Untappd app. It’s great for recording your beers.)

It’s a crisp, pilsner-inspired craft beer. If you’re ever down in the District, find it on tap!

3. Shift Pale LagerNew Belgium Brewing Company, Fort Collins, Colo.

This lager is the strongest in flavor of the three, as it is billed as a cross between a pale ale and a lager. I second the message of this marketing.

First, make sure you pour this into a glass. You need to smell this beer. It has a scent of lemon, grape, and apple, almost like a white wine.

However, while it isn’t as crisp as a regular lager, it’s not too hoppy. The beer is as light as a lager, but it has a slight apple cider bite at the end of the sip. A really incredible brew.

Honorable Mention: Yuengling Traditional Lager, Yuengling, Pottsville, Penn.

I already mentioned that I went to college in Pennsylvania, so this shouldn’t be a surprise. Established in 1829, Yuengling is the oldest existing brewery in the United States. 

I used to drink this stuff by the mug. Our local dive bar had a 36-ounce mug night every week. It’s that drinkable, and it’s also reasonably priced. When I go into the grocery store to buy a basic lager, this is the one I choose.

Go out and try a lager this weekend If you have any favorites, please tell me about them in the comments!

*My beer bible is The Oxford Companion to Beer by Garrett Oliver. Every beer drinker should have one in their bookshelf. 

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