American Lagers for Independence Day
Certain things come to mind when thinking about July: warm days spent lazily on the beach, barbecues with friends and family, wonderfully ornate displays of fireworks and, of course, baseball. The common denominator that’s found at all of these fantastic locales, bringing joy and refreshment to adults of all ages? Beer, of course!
And there’s no better style to enjoy during the month’s festivities than a brisk American-made lager. While American lagers can range in style from German Pilsener influence to more robust Vienna or Amber lagers, they are always crisp and refreshing.
What makes lagers such an excellent choice for warm weather as opposed to ales? The main difference is that ales are brewed with top-fermenting yeast while lagers are brewed with bottom-fermenting yeast. Lager yeasts are inherently more fragile than ale yeasts, with a lower alcohol tolerance, and undergo fermentation at lower temperatures. This leads to a slower, longer fermentation and storage period (hence the name lager, from the German lagern, meaning “to store”).
The results include fewer esters and aromas than found in ales, greater clarity and a full-bodied beer with a mellow palate that’s crisper in character and less fruity.
(New Glarus, Wisconsin). This is a collaborative beer from two companies led by women: New Glarus Brewing and Weyermann Malting. It’s crisp and malt driven, as you would expect a classic lager to be, but the Hallertau Mittelfrüh hops impart iconic noble-hop notes of grass, soft grapefruit essence and earthy florals. Smooth and balanced in the mouth, with a light green-tea astringency that adds texture to the biscuity malt core. A soft green-apple twang and mineral notes enliven the finish.
abv: 5% Price: $8/12 oz
(American Pale Lager; Hops and Grain Brewery, TX). Don’t let the can (or playful name) fool you: this is a delicious lager that boasts balance, harmony and character. Brewed with German malts and Oregon hops, and dry hopped after fermentation, this boasts lively aromas and flavors of clean, pale malt, lemon zest, fresh grass and subtle floral esters. The texture is smooth and crisp, complemented by medium carbonation and a lightly bitter, hop-fueled finish that’s tasty and refreshing. A very sessionable selection that’s perfect for outdoors.
abv: 5.2% Price: $8/12 oz 6 pack
(Lager; Samuel Adams, USA). This is a classic that will never go out of style, so clean yet flavorful. A golden–amber color with a frothy off-white head, this boasts upfront aromas of earthy, floral hops that mingle seamlessly with notes of caramel malt and sweet orange citrus. Resiny hop characteristics add depth to the palate, with additional accents of roasted malt and caramel sauce. The finish is smooth and dry, with a touch of bitterness. Pair with grilled salmon or strip steak.
abv: 4.9% Price: $10/12 oz 6 pack
(German-style Pilsener; Full Sail Brewing Company, OR). Full Sail’s 26th anniversary brew is a Northwest take on a European classic. It pours a beautiful bright-gold color, with a chunky white head that boasts excellent retention and leaves serious lacing behind with each sip. The hop-derived aromas of citrus and pine are forward and intense, with supporting notes of pale malt and cereal grain. The mouthfeel is medium-bodied but full of flavor, with high carbonation and a harmonious balance between the crisp lager core and the sticky hop characteristics. Herbal tones of meadow, yellow flower and soft pepper grace the finish.
abv: 6% Price: $4/22 oz
(German-style Pilsener; Smuttynose Brewing Company NH). This accessible, flavorful lager is incredibly sessionable. Brewed with German malt and Czech Saaz hops, it pours a light straw color, with a light off-white head. The noble hop aromas are prominent at first, with scents of fresh-cut grass, mint and white pepper, but are supported by notes of fresh bread, biscuit and lemon. Medium-bodied and well balanced, it boasts lively effervescence and a lightly bitter, earthy hop flavor on the crisp finish.
abv: 5.2% Price: $9/12 oz 6 pack
(German-style Pilsner; Trumer Brauerei Berkeley, CA). This is a clean, classic pilsner, originating in Germany but now brewed in California, still in accordance with the Reinheitsgebot, or German beer purity law. It pours a brilliant golden-straw color, with a bouquet that offers clean and precise aromas of grass, dried hops, orange and grain. The high carbonation and light body make this an easy-drinking and refreshing selection, with final glimmers of pepper and hoppy bitterness on the clean finish.
abv: 4.9% Price: $9/12 oz 6 pack
(Shiner, USA). The gold winner at the 2012 Great American Beer Festival in the German-style schwarzbier category, this beer is well-balanced and extremely sessionable, and promises great versatility in food pairing. Brewed with Czech Saaz and Styrian hops, notes of roasted grain, lightly charred coffee bean, faint caramel and milk chocolate dance on the nose and mouth alongside accents of assorted red fruit, tree bark and licorice root. It’s clean and accessible, with lively carbonation and an easy finish.
abv: 4.9% Price: $7/12 oz
(Maui Brewing Co., Hawaii). Pours a slightly cloudy pale yellow color with a significant head that leaves little lacing but a nice ring. Aromas are medium-intense with lime rind citrus, soft spice and a touch of pineapple. The mouth is lightweight but very satisfying, with strong but not overly assertive carbonation and a crisp maltiness. Not too grainy or bitter, with soft hoppy notes lingering on the finish. An easy-to-drink, very well-balanced lager.
abv: 4.5% Price: $9/12 oz
(American Double/Imperial Pilsner; Full Sail Brewing Company, OR). This is a big and bold brew, but well balanced, with medium carbonation that keeps the finish fresh. The bouquet is bready and hoppy, with notes of grass, grapefruite peel and sweet grain. The high alcohol lends a roundness to the palate, resulting in a slightly viscous mouthfeel and a slick texture. The flavors echo the notes found on the nose, coupled with a pleasing bitterness that stays through the medium-length finish.
abv: 9% Price: $9/750ml
(Karl Strauss, USA). Formerly labeled as “Amber Lager,” this brew was recently relaunched as “Karl Strauss Amber,” although the recipe remains the same. It’s clean and refreshing, with light toasted-biscuit and grain husk aromas. A bit more depth and weight unfold on the palate, with the caramel-malt sweetness providing the mouthfeel a lightly creamy texture. The finish is crisp and lively, with a lingering malt flavor that’s augmented by notes of earthy hop and yeasty spice.
abv: 5.4% Price: $10/12 oz
- 292 New Glarus Two Women Lager
- 391 Hops & Grain The One They Call Zoe A Pale Lager
- 491 Samuel Adams Boston Lager
- 590 Full Sail 26 Cascade Pilsner
- 690 Smuttynose Vunderbar! Pilsner
- 790 Trumer Pils
- 889 Shiner Bohemian Black Lager
- 989 Maui Brewing Co Bikini Blonde Lager
- 1089 Uinta Crooked Line Tilted Smile Imperial Pilsner
- 1189 Karl Strauss Amber