Happy Lager Day, beer geeks and gals!
Today we join together to celebrate Lager Day, the annual holiday honoring the bottom fermented brew enjoyed for generations upon generations. As soon as the Germans brought lager bier to the US in the mid-19th century (lager means "storage" in German), Americans fully embraced the beverage, cranking out barrels upon barrels of the stuff. Lighter, more refreshing and lower in alcohol than ale, its British predecessor, lager cooled the mouths and warmed the hearts of entire families, leading to a boom in beer consumption and production throughout the country. In New York, breweries popped up by the dozen, dotting the avenues of Brooklyn from Bushwick to Flatbush. The brewing industry was pulling in upwards of $8 million in revenue per year by the 1870's, all thanks to crisp, bubbly lager.
Bavarian beer gardens attracted tourists and local families alike, providing relief from cramped tenements and helping recent immigrants to adjust to their new home while still preserving the cultures they left behind. German-style saloons quickly became the standard drinking venue, continuing the tradition of "free lunches" -- salty sausages, pretzels, mustards and pickled vegetables that no doubt encouraged a thirsty palate. These saloons, like the Colonial-era taverns before them, also served as a meeting place for Eastern European immigrants, many of whom were intellectuals escaping political repression. As the 1800's gave way to the 1900's, there were countless pamphlets written, protests organized and ideas debated over steins brimming with golden lager.
But that was the past. Today, most of the lager (Hell, most of the beer, period) we consume is of the watered down, corn and rice fueled, "American Light" variety, enjoyed not over a heated political discussion but alone, in front of the blaring television. Blech. To celebrate this venerable drink and right the wrongs of lager's 20th century turn for the gross, we're listing a few of our favorite craft lagers (in no ranking order). Follow the links to view their Beer Advocate ratings, then track them down, crack one open and, in the spirit of our rabble-rousing foredrinkers, step on that soapbox add your own two cents to the forum. Cheers!
- Prima Pils by Victory Brewing Company (PA)
A lesson in German simplicity with an American hop twist. A thing of pure beauty.
- El Steinber by Anderson Valley Brewing Company
Roasty, chocolately and toasty. A well-crafted winter lager.
- Pandamonium India Pale Lager by Speakeasy Ales & Lagers
A real win for the Speakeasy crew, as well as for the lager's bat-wielding Giants namesake. Big, bold and crisply drinkable.
- Shift Pale Lager by New Belgium Brewing
Bisquity malt and subtle hop aroma make this canned lager a perfect outdoor adventure companion.
- Session Lager by Full Sail Brewing
Clean, smooth, refreshing and comes in adorable stubby bottles from a 100% worker-owned Oregon brewery.
- Krampus Imperial Helles Lager by Southern Tier Brewing
Warn your taste buds... the Krampus is coming! Juicy, hoppy and boozy, this imperial pilsner packs quite the punch. Great for snowy nights by the fire.
- Baba Black Lager by Uinta Brewing Company
Smoky, with a hoppy bite and clean finish. A nice, sessionable choice for a chilly Autumn evening.
- Jan Olympic White Lagrrr by SingleCut Beersmiths
This American pale is rich with peppery spice and sweet orange blossom. A choice brew for Belgian, Hefe and Saison lovers looking for something lighter.
- Narragansett Lager by Narragansett Brewing Co.
Come on, who doesn't love a tallboy of 'Gansett?? My favorite of the American light lagers, this good ol' boy is best enjoyed ice cold on a hot day.