Oh, lagers. Let you be a cicerone with a pallet insured for a million dollars or a Bud Light fanatic who gives not a care in the world beers not toted for their superior drinkability, chances are nearly 100-percent that you’ve had a lager. The brews are everywhere in the American beer scene. With these beers being so pervasive, I thought there couldn’t have been a better place to start now that their isn’t a major beer-centric holiday until Cinco de Mayo.
Lagers – which are plentiful in the craft beer world – are perpetually out shined by the billion dollar macrobrew industry giants like AB InBev and SABMiller. So in an effort to help remove the commercial beer goggles, I bring to you three lagers that are still readily available and bring a little bit more to the table than the big three American lite beers.
This beer toes the line formed by all the other beers of its stripe. It’s cheap, mass-produced and pours a thin pale straw color with small bubbly head. It smells like breakfast cereal and tastes sweet and light with a grainy, bread-like quality. Despite having a fancy name and much smaller distribution than the NAALs everybody sees all the time, this is a great beer to stretch some beer drinking legs that have never been stretched before.
There is a difference in taste, however. With this beer, the familiar lager taste is turned a little bit with how the drink finishes. When I’m drinking a Miller Lite, a High Life or even a Rolling Rock or a Busch Lite, the finish is a sharp bitterness. I don’t know if this is intentional or not but for me, that bitter stab on the back of my tongue makes me want to take another swig, followed by another and another and another until I have to open another one just to keep that bitterness off my palate. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing. If I’m in the mood to just crush through some beers with friends, I want something that I’m going to be able to have a bunch of but with Narragansett, what puts it above those other crushable beers is that this one makes you want to keep taking sips but with a dry sweet finish that comes from the malty cereals and grains that make up the beer, giving it an almost natural sugary sweetness. If I had to bet, the main adjunct grain in this beer would be corn, making it more akin to a Pabst Blue Ribbon than anything.
I saw this beer in my beer store a bunch of times but never pulled the trigger because it never seemed cool enough but I’m glad I finally did because it’s most likely going to be my go to brew when I plan on drinking more than one or two, especially come the summer months when I’ve had enough radlers and Rolling Rock or Miller High Life isn’t cutting it for me anymore. Like those very familiar names, Narragansett comes in 30s if that’s what you so desire but I bought mine is a six-pack of tall boys for around $5.50 before deposit and taxes.
Dortmunder Gold Lager
Now this beer is one of my all-time favorites, regardless of style. To find this beer, one will probably have to look a little harder, maybe even go to a beer store or a Wegman’s – which is where I picked this up for the first time. Despite being a craftier beer, this is still a pretty readily available beer depending on where you are geographically. Although the brewery’s website says this comes in six and 12 packs, I have only ever seen it in as an option for a create your own six-pack or in a pretty outstanding Great Lakes sampler pack that also contains three other truly delicious beers that will most likely come up in a future blog.
But as for this beer, the big difference between this and the Narragansett is the fruity bitterness in it. Above you will see that this beer comes in a 30 IBUs, which is a measure of bitterness. This beer does have a noticeable hoppy kick that finishes with a smooth, sweet citrus. What makes this one of my favorites is how this lager does not try to hide the hops but rather elegantly wraps the hoppiness in an equally satisfying malty flavor, more similar to what you’ll find in most macro lagers.
I recommend drinking this beer cold and on a hot summer day. As the beer warms up, the citrus and hops tend to fade, leaving a looser mouth-feel with the malty notes overshadowing the floral hops.
Slingshot American Craft Lager
Alright folks, so I’ve brought you from a very close relative of the lagers everybody knows to what we have here. This beer, although a lager, will catch those who have not had many craft beers off guard. Although this beer posses the quintessential malty, bready flavor of a lager, this also packs a super dry and citrusy hop punch. Where that comes from is this being a pale lager. If you follow the link above, Beeradvocate offers a good break down of what these beers are about. Although this packs 10,000-times the flavor, this is the same style as Michelob Ultra.
From the second you pry off the cap, this beer exudes its robust combination of citrus and malts. When you take a swig, the bready malts are the first thing you notice but like a firecracker, the hoppy citrus takes over, leaving you with a dry fruity taste on the back of your tongue. Although this was my first time trying this beer, if given the opportunity, I would pair these with a long afternoon of sitting by the pool or the river.
If you’re feeling adventurous and you see this beer, please give it a shot. I’m glad I did. Plus, if you’re from New York like I am, you’ll be supporting a local brewery! Shmaltz’s headquarters are in Clifton Park,
just north of Albany!
Thanks for stopping by “It’s Just a Beer” this week! I hope you enjoyed this deeper look at the American staple that is the lager. Swing by again next week where I’ll be diving into the often times taken for granted world of Brown Ales. And remember, if you see these beers or anything else that looks tasty, pick it up because, in the end, it’s just a beer.
Thank you and cheers!