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Bottoms Up!
Lager in the New Year

Posted: January 7, 2009

By Chad Wulff

Bottom fermented and with little room for error, Lagers are in no way mundane or something to pass up experiencing.  With so many different producers creating multiple varieties these days one can experience a local brewer’s take on a tradition, variation thereof, or a classic benchmark brand that is most likely widely available.  Plenty of new styles of ale have been showing up on the scene recently.  Barrel aged ales, wildly fermented ales, and a myriad of hop-bombs to entice the beer hunters out there. Experimental styles seem to be on top of everyone’s list to experience and intrigue but I would still encourage stopping by and giving your old friends the Lager’s a visit once in a while.

Let me recommend a few to revisit or try the next time you’re in the mood for a crisp clean quaff.  As far as pale lagers go, treat yourself to a Lion Brewery Ceylon PLC (Sri Lanka) Imperial Lager (91 points).  An incredible lager to spend some time with and enjoy with ease seeing its ABV. Is set at 8.8%. To amp it up a bit, invite some of your favorite curry dishes to the party.  I would also suggest trying a River Horse Brewery Lager (NJ) (87 points).  A great session brew for game day and would pair nicely with some homemade chili.

Many brands these days are calling themselves Pilsners.  It is after all the most widely replicated style.  Buyer beware! Many in reality are watered down versions of the classic; here are a few I would recommend to get a taste of true perfection.  The Zatec (Czech Republic) Bright Lager (90 points) is highly drinkable and well balanced.  The Paulaner Brauerei (Germany) (88 points) is another fine example of the style.  Even Scotland has shown us a interesting take, the Atlas Brewery (Scotland) (90 points) Latitude Highland Pilsner is soft on the palate and highly thirst quenching.  Try these said brews with some encased meats and hard cheeses at your next session with friends.

My favorite season of the year is Fall, so naturally an malty Oktoberfest is in hand during the autumnal celebrations.  I always look forward to the many different breweries fine samples every year.  Try the Hofbrähaus München (Germany) (92 points) Hofbräu Oktoberfest or the Hacker-Pschorr Brauerei (Germany) (90 points) Original Oktoberfest as a bench mark for the style.  Upland Brewing’s (IN) (84 points) Oktoberfest Bavarian-Style Lager is a great example of the influence the classics have had on an American Brewer.  A big roasty malt bomb with some warming qualities as well.  Wash down some roasted chicken or pork with some spätzle on the side with any of these Oktoberfest beers.

Dark Lagers, or Dunkels are another personal favorite.  The Braueri Hirt (Austria) (96 points) Hirter Morchl is a must try for any fan of the style.  Perfectly balanced and very clean make for easy consumption of this fine beer.   The Hofbrähaus München (Germany) (93 points) is also welcome to the session.  If you are in the mood to seek one out, definitely keep your eyes open for Bastone Brewery (MI) (90 points) Munich Dunkel Lager. If you happen to find it, you will be rewarded with excellence.  Try a Dunkel with a liverwurst sandwich if you’re feeling adventurous.

Lastly, I have to recommend a Doppelbock.  The dark and mischievous side of the lager coin.  Paulaner Brauerei (Germany) (93 points) Salvator Doppelbock was my introduction to the style many years ago and still a personal favorite.  For a fun combo pairing try it first with some braised pork belly and then for dessert, some crème brulee and you’ll experience just how dynamic and complex this beer really is.

A handful of classics and a few interpretations of the various styles rounded out this last World Beer Championships.  Many thanks to the Brewer’s and Judges who participated in such an extraordinary event.

Below are links to the various categories we tasted. Cheers!



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<ul><li><a href="/search_wine.lasso?se=k&kw=2008USregionalreviewrunnerup&sb=All&sf=ScoreForSort&dt=208">2008 US Regional Review Runners Up</a></ul>


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