Dismiss it as simple beer, not worthy of even sampling, especially when it’s – ugh! – golden of hue. You just can’t be bothered with it.
Well, Ron Pattinson and I know better, and Ron has written a post that summarizes his feelings – and mine, I might add – perfectly, in a thirst-inducing and purely enjoyable fashion.
14 Replies to “Some of You Deride Lager”
Perhaps I am being a touch harsh here, but I have to question the knowledge and understanding of any so called beer lover that is incapable of appreciating the art and craft that goes into making a proper lager.
The US beer scene, notwithstanding that its brewers produce nearly ever real or imaginary style of beer, can be extremely parochial, and lager appears to be one of its major blind spots.
You might find yourself surprised at how much excellent lager is brewed in the US, Barm. In fact, I’d venture to say that there is more widespread lager hatred in the UK than there is in the US.
Those who are fond of calling themselves “beer geeks” show how little they know or understand about beer by not including a single lager among the Ratebeer top 100 and, when ranking by style, not a single German lager is in the top five (but there are three American and one Italian).
One gets the impression that “beer geek” is another way of saying “beer blind” or “beer ignorant”. Perhaps before going “extreme” these people should have begun with the basics.
In my student days (circa 1964) the only alternative to Rheingold and Ballantine werer German lagers — Lowenbrau (pre_Millers), Dortmunder nd the like. My time in the USAF flying with Luftwaffe comrades introduced me to Beck’s and St.Pauli. A good lager is still, to my taste, among the finest brews to be had. No tedious discussions about food pairings, No concerns about the beer overshadowing the food. Just a fine, cold brew.
I forgot on other exceptional lager experience: Pabst! Not the current, trendy bottled PBR, But fresh Pabst draft in a bar in Milwaukee around 1980 — unpasteurized, delivered from the brewery daily. Cold, clean, tasting of malt and hops. Incredible!
I’m not a huge lager fan and kind of fall into the somewhat harsh descriptions above but I do keep an open mind. I’d love to try these but to this point the only lagers I really have enjoyed in even semi recent memory are those from Hacker Schorr and Spaten. Great find on the article. I reposted a link to the original article on my website’s facebook page (beersinparadise.com) because I think it’s a nice read that will give people pause to reconsider lagers. I plan to have one on my next trip to the pub.
Oh I forgot Craftsman’s 1903 lager…that wasn’t bad either.
Stephen, if, as you wrote, there is “much excellent lager… brewed in the US”, why do you think it gets so little respect there? Why, for example, is not a single lager listed in the Ratebeer top 100?
BTW, I don’t doubt your statement, just wonder why it seems to be so widely ignored.
I’ll speculate here based on many conversations with craft beer drinkers at beer events, craft beer bars and interactions with people on my craft beer website. I think part of it is that many craft beer drinkers still identify lagers with mass produced domestic beer (quality over quantity). On the other hand other people develop a hankering for different styles of beer with IPA being the frontrunner. Also, you have people that love experimenting and trying new beers that are dismissive of something like a lager or even a pilsner, which they equate with mass produced domestics. Most of us have heard the “Fizzy, yellow beer” moniker aimed at BMC (Bud Miller Coors) and when you hear it from people like Greg Koch of Stone Brewing Co. (www.youtube.com/watch?v=12OScfhxndM) I think it reinforces that notion in beer consumers’ selection process. Now you have Imperial pilsners and lagers on the shelves, presumably to appeal to the ‘extreme’ craft beer drinkers, which appears to be a response from craft brewers to the real and perceived lack of respect for these styles of beer. Is that the right response? I don’t know, but personally I prefer other beer styles, although I enjoy the occasional lager (usuallly at Oktoberfest).
I’m an administrator at Ratebeer and the reason for the lack of lager love is mostly due to the effect of aggregating rating from hundreds/thousands of individual users. That, and the effect of individual barrel treatments resulting in several iterations of the same base beer getting on the list multiple times. For whatever reason, complex/big beers get more love because there seems to be an inherent link in people’s minds between “complex” and “good” – it’s similar to the Robert Parker effect in wine.
The site has a number of customizable tools to limit the search by ABV, style etc. You’ll see a few lagers pop up on the list if you limit to beers <7% ABV (although that list is mostly lambic). I wouldn't get too exorcised over it – the world of craft beer is a whole lot bigger than Ratebeer.com. Just because a beer doesn't make the list of the worlds best doesn't mean it's not a fantastic product. Drink what you like and tell people about it – that's the point of this whole enterprise.
Thanks, Joe. I think the most important point in your comment is that, no matter how often quoted or referenced Ratebeer and Beer Advocate may be, they are still specialty sites catering only to those interested in using them, leaving aside the vast majority of those who drink craft beer.
Mike, I can tell you for certain the Lagunitas Pilsner gets a lot of love in California, as do Sly Fox Pikeland Pils, Stoudt Pilsner and Victory Prima Pils in PA, Live Oak Pilz in Texas, and so on.
Thanks for the replies (although the reply button seems to be AWOL). Stephen’s explanation makes the most sense because Ratebeer and BeerAdvocate are both based on a flawed concept (that personal taste is universal) and the “articles” in both sites are mostly filled with nonsense (at least about beer history and European beers).
I’ve only had the chance to try two US lagers: several excellent ones from Moonlight Brewing company (the brewer skillfully reproduced the German-Bohemian flavours) and a pretty awful one from Victory (I think it was called Brewmaster Pils), which was an American version of the same beers – loaded with bittering hops and little else. Rather one-dimensional and not the pleasant dimension at that.
Delicate features and balanced beers are not celebrated in the top lists of either site. While I’m proud to say that many of our beers end up on the best of style X lists on both sites, I’m more comforted by the fact that our “worst rated beer” on both sites is our best seller by over 2:1.
And, I’m pretty sure I’m not the only brewer in this same situation.
While I may enjoy a single bottle of Victory Prima Pils, I’m personally more apt to polish off a 24 of Summit Pils, salivate over a King Pilsner, and dream a little dream of the Bayern Brewing Company lagery goodness. And while that puts me in the minority, it just means more beer for me!
Dave @ Half Pints