Over the last decade, we’ve witnessed some very interesting developments in the world of alcohol. Gin exploded in popularity, swiftly followed by flavoured tonic and craft beer went from being a tourist attraction to a regular fixture on bar menus. With the craft beer trend on an upward trajectory, lager has come along for the ride – we dare say, it’s ‘cool’ again. Here’s the lager lowdown and what you should watch out for from this beer!
What is meant by the term ‘lager’
Falling under the overall beer category, lager gets its name from the German word ‘lagern’ which translates to ‘store’. The name was penned because of the beer’s long fermentation process. Bavarian brewers actually discovered lager by accident after they stored their ale in ice caves during the summer. Combine the cold with a long resting/fermentation period and boom – along came lager! As a result, all Bavarian beers became lagers, and it’s still to this day, one of the world’s top-selling beers.
Examples of lager
Any well-known beer that pops into your is most likely a lager. International examples come in the form of Corona and Heineken, while Aussie versions include Carlton Draught and VB. The Czech Republic ‘Pilsners’ are also a form of pale, hoppier lagers that are today widely consumed worldwide. Pirate Life, Sapporo and Reschs are just a few examples of brands that brew pilsners.
Difference between lager and ale
Ale uses top-fermenting yeast, which means that the yeast will initially rise to the top and gradually sink to the bottom of the fermentation vessel once the process is almost complete. This is a type of yeast commonly used for a variety of purposes, including wine and bread making.
Lager instead uses the Bavarian-born, bottom-fermenting yeast. The term ‘‘Bottom fermenting’ doesn’t necessarily mean it just sits at the bottom of the vessel, but more so that it doesn’t rise as close to the top as the yeast in ale does.
Because of its slower fermentation process, lagers tend to have higher sugar content and a lower alcohol volume than ales. While ales have a higher alcohol content due to thorough fermentation, there are now lower alcohol versions of this beer available in the form of popular ‘session-ales’.
Flavour and colour
Because of the higher sugar content, lagers are typically sweeter, smoother and crisper than ales. Ales on the other hand are often darker and cloudier with a robust flavour profile. The process of fermentation for ale is much faster than for lager, which allows for more varied, hoppier and fruitier flavours. There’s also a slightly bitter taste thanks to the stronger presence of hops!
Craft is (or appears to be) king
While traditional lagers like Heineken and VB will always be a popular choice among customers, Australian liquor suppliers are seeing an uptick in craft beer sales. Craft beer is taking bars by storm and doing wonders for lager’s likeability at the same time! It’s a bit of a win-win situation for both craft and traditional brewers at the moment, as drinkers become more knowledgeable, they’re also becoming more open-minded about trying new and established drinks from both categories.
Craft lagers to watch out for
Lager used to be a word that was not liked in the craft brewing world, but over time, an appreciation for this beer has taken off. Well-known craft brewers have now added lager to their repertoire, which certainly has given it its groove back! If you’ve not already done so, here are some of the top craft lagers bars should consider stocking up on!
Balter Lager: With Balter XPA recently accruing several accolades, the guys at Balter can do no wrong. ‘Drinkability’ is the order of the day for this particular brew. Bubbling with citrus, subtle spices and gentle maltiness it’s a wonder for the tastebuds!
Moondog lager: Moondog has been perfecting their craft since 2010 and just like their other creations, their lager exceeds expectations. It’s exactly how a lager should be – deliciously crisp and refreshing. Featuring light malt and the beautiful aroma of Australian hops, this is an easy-to-drink must try!
James Squire: The brewery’s ‘broken shackles’ embodies a crisp brew that has a clean finish synonymous with lager. Subtle herbaceous hops mingle with pale malts to bring to life an uncomplicated, thirst quencher.
Young Henry’s: Young Henry’s Natural Lager does exactly what it says on the tin or should we say ‘tinnie’. Described as an accessible, Australian and natural approach to the German beer recipe, it contains no preservatives and has a light bitterness and crisp finish. Its lightness in fact, makes it pair well with some of your favourite Aussie pub meals.
It’s safe to say that Lager’s star is on the rise. Make sure your venue is keeping abreast of this trend by stocking up on popular craft and traditional lager available at Australian liquor suppliers like paramountliquor.com.au