Ales and Lagers make up almost all beers (except for specialty beer which is a whole other thing). These two main beers, however, have sub-categories of beer underneath them that specify different brewing methods and taste variations. This post will focus on the different types of lagers available.
What is a Lager Beer?
Lager beers differ from Ales by that they ferment at much lower temperatures and the yeast flocculates at the bottom of the brew rather than the top. As well, the yeast typically leaves behind a residual sweetness that comes from the more aggressive fermenting process. Last, the aging process is much longer than Ales. While Ales age for only a few weeks, Lagers can age for several months before they are ready to drink. What results is a much more clean and clear beer compared to most Ales. They can easily be paired with many different foods and are best served cold. Lager beers do not have the powerhouse ability of flavor that most Ales possess but they do provide light aromas and simple yet distinct flavors. Within the general category of Lagers, there is a wide range of different types. Here are the main types of lagers.
Types of Lagers
American Pale Lagers
These lagers also go by another name, water. BaZing! No, but seriously, American Pale Lagers are light-colored with delicate sweetness with an adjunct, which means corn or rice is added to the mix of barely when brewing. These are the basic beers that every American has grown up hearing and seeing commercials about. Usually the first introduction to beer for many American college students, it’s typically not the best tasting.
American Dark Lagers
The ol’ American try at European counterparts, these are darker beers that mimic German Dark Lagers. Most American breweries add their own twists by slightly changing recipes, adding spices and different variations of hops, malt, and yeast.
Historically these beers are associated with Germany and the town on Einbeck. They can range in color yet all feature a noticeable sweetness on the tongue. Though the aroma of hops is almost unnoticeable, the flavor is present with a hard bitterness that’s luckily evened out by a malty sweetness.
First brewed by Italian monks living in the Alps monastery of St. Francis of Paula to help sustain hunger during the Lenten season, these lagers are a sub-category to the bock style. Extra strong with an intense malty sweetness and hop bitterness that is typical of a bock, the alcohol content is usually a bit stronger.
This style originated front he city of Dortmund in Germany. A perfectly balance all-malt beer, the color usually resembles a pale gold. The style sits between the crispness of a German pils and the malty flavors of a Munich Helles yet slightly stronger than both. Berghoff’s Dortwunder Lager is a great example of how this beer can taste. With New World versions of European classic hops that are smooth and clean yet bold with personality, Dortwunder has a slight caramel character with wonderfully spicy and herbal aroma.
Another sub-category of a Bock, these are the strongest available. Translated to “Ice Bock” these lagers are chilled until water crystals (ice) form. At that point the ice is removed and what is left is an extremely high concentrated beer, a pronounced malty sweetness with a strong alcoholic finish.
Helles Bock / Maibock
The pale version of a traditional Bock Beer with sweet malty taste and subtle hops. This is considered a light beer in Germany and drank usually in the springtime before heavier beers are available later in the year.
Marzen / Octoberfest Beer
Deeply malty with just enough hops to provide balance, these beers first called Marzen, German for the month of March, was typically the last batch brewed before the German summer. Berghoff has made their own , which mimics the orange-amber color of most Marzen beers. Yet, with the intent to keep the body light and avoid too much sweetness, we have created a crisper beer that’s versatile with many dishes.
This was the classic brown lager of Munich. Originally developed to contrast the Munich Helles, its lighter counterpart, they are characterized by their smooth and malty flavor. Berghoff’s Sir Dunkle Crispy Dark Lager works to imitate this flavor with a 21st century American twist. With a mix of pilsner and pale ale malts and a layer of specialty malts, Sir Dunkle holds a toasty, cookie, and dark toffee character balanced by a crisp hop mix.
A pale lager typically with a golden hue, they tend to have only a slight maltiness and subtle hop flavor, heavier than most standard pale lagers.
Originated in the Czech Republic, many American beer companies strive for their flavor: a subtle maltiness yet crisp and refreshing with only a small bitterness. With medium to full bodies they have high carbonation and a dense, white head.
Also referred to as “Smoked Beer,” these have very distinct flavors that usually take a few times to acquire a taste for. They have an intense smokey and pungent flavor reminiscent of a bonfire. No wonder they call it smoked.
A cousin of the Marzwnbier, Vienna Lagers are malty and amber-colored with a medium body. More popular in Mexico than it’s original home country, these are well-rounded and bold tasting.