Although the hot summer season is still months away, April is a great time to take a look at some of the beer styles you should come to know and love. It’s true: planning for outdoor entertaining is a perfectly valid excuse to sample some new brews.
Although everyone’s personal preferences are different, there’s one beer style that’s sure to quench your thirst on those hot days at the baseball park, the backyard barbecue or the poolside bash: lagers.
Known for being crisper, cleaner and more refreshing than ales, lagers are generally lighter in body and alcohol while being moderate to high in carbonation. Two of the more common styles purchased for summer entertaining include Euro Pale Lagers and American Style Lagers. With their typically more affordable price points and high drinkability, they’re likely suspects for large warm weather gatherings of all kinds.
Though the two styles have similar grain bills, they present distinct characteristics. Euro pale lagers generally have a “skunk” aroma and low to moderate hop scents, flavors and bitterness backed by a solid malt body, while an American Adjunct Lager will offer little to no hop presence and a light, effervescent mouthfeel designed for very easy consumption. Both typically have moderate alcohol (between 4% and 6% abv) and carbonation, and are frequently designed as session beers.
If you’re a fan of the style, then there’s some excellent bargains to be had here. And here’s to the summer months ahead. Prost!
EURO PALE LAGERS
86 Hollande 1620 Superieur Lager Beer (Euro Pale Lager; Bavaria Brouwerij, Netherlands), $7/6 pack, 4.6% abv. A nice golden color in the glass with a decent head that falls fast and leaves little lacing. Aromas are mainly grain based with notes of skunk and accents of green apple. The palate offers medium carbonation with a full mouthfeel supported by sweet malt characteristics. A great alternative to more popular (and expensive) imports of the same style. Best Buy.
85 Bavaria Holland Family Brewed Premium Beer (Euro Pale Lager; Bavaria Brouwerij, Netherlands), $7/6 pack, 5.0% abv. From the second-largest Dutch brewery owned and operated by the Swinkels family since 1719, this is a solid, clean lager with a pale golden color and soft characteristics. The bouquet is soft with aromas of malt and fresh light hops. The mouth is full and clean with minor metallic notes that lead through to the crisp, slightly bitter finish.
85 Dutch Windmill (Euro Pale Lager; Bavaria Brouwerij, Netherlands), $7/6 pack, 4.6% abv. Grassy hops and grains dominate the nose with a slight skunk odor lingering in the background. The mouth is light, well balanced, and highly carbonated with notes of pale malt, cracker and soft hops lingering through the dry, clean finish. Overall, an extremely drinkable session beer.
84 Gouden Haven Premium Pils Lager (Euro Pale Lager; Bavaria Brouwerij, Netherlands), $8/6 pack, 4.6% abv. Pours a very pale gold color with fairly mild but typical scents of fresh grain and Euroskunk. The mouthfeel is thin and malty with a significant amount of hop bitterness on the drying finish. Not terrible, just not terribly exciting.
84 Hollandia Premium Lager Beer (Euro Pale Lager; Bavaria Brouwerij, Netherlands), $6/6 pack, 4.8% abv. Light and effervescent with crisp Euro lager characteristics of husky grains and a slight metallic tinge. With a low-intensity profile, the carbonation and brisk, clean finish conquer the impression of the brew. Simple and straightforward, but a great warm weather quencher for sure.
85 San Lucas Cerveza Original (American Adjunct Lager; Cerveceria La Constancia, El Salvador); $6/6 pack, 4.6% abv. At $6 a six-pack, this is an excellent alternative to pricier cervezas that won’t disappoint fans of the style. A nice bouquet with typical notes of grass, malt and soft skunk. The mouth is subtle but well-balanced, with flavors of sweet grains and light hops leading into the crisp, mildly bitter finish. Best Buy.
84 Cerveza Cantina Pura Cerveza (American Adjunct Lager; Cerveceria La Constancia, El Salvador); $7/6 pack, 4.6% abv. Quite skunky on the nose with supporting notes of corn and soft fruity sweetness. The palate is moderately carbonated but full with flavors of sweet corn husk and metal. There’s a slight hop bitterness to the finish, but certainly nothing overpowering, just a faint suggestion. 15,000 cases imported.
83 Cabaña Cerveza (American Adjunct Lager; Cerveceria La Constancia, El Salvador); $6/6pack, 4.6% abv. Pours a very light, pale yellow color with a slight head that dissipates quickly. The medium-intense nose offers scents of soft sweet malt and citrus soda. The palate doesn’t show much more complexity with sweet corn flavors and lower carbonation. Good choice for pool parties.
83 Cerveza Caguama (American Adjunct Lager; Cerveceria La Constancia, El Salvador); $10/12 pack, 4.6% abv. A decent gathering option given the affordable case price point. The lager has a soft nose with accents of hay and skunk, while the mouth is a bit fuller with flavors of malt and corn flakes. With low alcohol and mild characteristics, this is easy to drink. 25,000 cases produced.
83 Caballo Extra Pura Cerveza (American Adjunct Lager; Cerveceria La Constancia, El Salvador); $7/6 pack, 4.6% abv. Very pale yellow in color with an extremely mild bouquet. The mouth doesn’t offer much either, with notes of corn and sulphur. Highly carbonated with a light mouthfeel, this is a beer that’s made for ridiculously hot, humid days when you’re tired of drinking water.
82 Taurino Cerveza (American Adjunct Lager; Cerveceria La Constancia, El Salvador); $8/12 pack, 4.7% abv. While this is certainly an economical selection that should be quite available (105,000 cases produced) it is lacking a bit in its overall presentation. The aromas and flavors are incredibly light, with only faint suggestions of corn and malt. Light-bodied with moderate carbonation, an acceptable choice for beer game night with rowdy friends.