Lager. The glorious pale-yellow liquid as it's mostly known for, is not a style but a yeast and process. Lagers are fermented at low temperatures which calls for a yeast that can survives the colder conditions. Brewing at these low temperatures, fermentation can take a number of weeks. Following fermentation, they are cold-conditioned to improve the flavour – this is known as lagering (lager is the German word for storing). The lagering process is performed at temperatures close to freezing and can last over a year. All in all, brewing a lager takes longer than brewing an ale.
There are loads of different beers that undergo these processes – from tart Berliner Weisse to rich Baltic Porters. But these are the classic, main styles.
Helles was invented by the Bavarians and is made most famous by Paulaner and Augustiner. It’s a pale lager with a rich malty backbone and a good whack of noble hops that add lemon and fresh grass aromas. It’s super drinkable but is usually stronger than most lager styles (around 5%, sometimes higher), with fairly low bitterness but a really clean finish.
Augustiner Helles - Available on Beermerchants.com / view beer.
There are two kinds of pilsners – the Bohemian/Czech style has a rich, malty background with lots of residual sweetness, balanced by huge amounts of aromatic Saaz hops to make it heady, while German pilsners are lighter versions of their helles, more about refreshment and quick drinking than the richer malts and hops – this has been taken on by macro breweries but also craft brewers.
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Bocks are the original German lagers – very strong and dark, with lots of toasted malt and liquorice notes lightened by those same lemony hops. The first Paulaner beer was a bock still made today, Salvator. These days it is associated with spring, as traditionally it was conditioned in caves over winter before being released.
A delicious unfiltered style of lager, much loved by the brewmasters of Munich breweries. It’s somewhere between a lager and a weissbier, with hints of estery banana sweetness and body, but a really clean lager-like finish. It feels nourishing, full-bodied but refreshing.
An unusual lager/ale hybrid from Colognein north-west Germany. It looks like a lager being pale, and undergoes the lagering process, but it’s actually top-fermented with an ale yeast so has a little more estery sweetness and a less biscuity finish than a German helles.
How To Serve A Lager
Now this is a pretty simple answer. Cold. Very cold. There's nothing that quite beats the first sip of an ice cold lager on a hot summers day. However, Bocks are the exception and often best when served closer to room temperature.
In regards to the glass to serve with, that's where it gets interesting - and a little nerdy. There are specifically designed pilsner glasses and lager glasses. For example, a pilsner glass is small glass that has a conical shape, narrow at the bottom and opening up a bit at the top, showing off a clear, straw-gold color and allowing for a fluffy head.
Helles and amber lagers are frequently poured into steins, we love the Paulaner stein, while a stemmed goblet (pokal) is traditional for bocks. With all lagers, tilt the glass to a 45-degree angle and pour slowly to produce a head that's about two fingers tall.
It's A Case Of Lager
Now this often over looked style is getting the recognition it deserves. From true to the style Munich Helles beers to the modern American takes via Pilsner, Kolsch and Steam beer, this case contains the best the world has to offer from one of the most refreshing styles there is out there. Honestly, can you beat a cold, crisp, refreshing lager at the end of a hard day? Buy the mixed case now here.