It’s not all wine, all the time here at Wine Enthusiast. Sometimes, we hang up our vino hat to indulge other interests. This week, we’re cracking open some sudsy lagers in celebration of National Lager Day on Wednesday, December 10.
Derived from the German word “to store,” lager is produced in cool temperatures with bottom-fermenting yeast, and unlike ale, it’s squirreled away to mature for a longer period of time. The result is a crisp, refreshing and smooth spirit with subtle, complex aromas that come in a range of styles, including pilsners, schwarzbiers and bocks.
Here are five of our favorite lagers to try:
91 Hops & Grain The One They Call Zoe
Don’t let the can (or playful name) fool you. This is a delicious lager that boasts balance, harmony and character. It’s brewed with German malts and Oregon hops, and dry-hopped after fermentation. The lager 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
90 Echt Veldensteiner Landbier
A traditional, balanced and well-made dunkel lager, this pours a dark chestnut color with a vigorous head. The aromas are all rich and brown, with scents of baking spice, brown bread, toffee and honey-roasted peanuts. The palate is generous, but not overdone. It sports a medium-weight mouthfeel and ample carbonation to keep the sweet flavors of roasted malt and caramel from feeling too heavy. Subtle hop and tea-like astringency lingers on the finish. All Star Imports, LLC.
abv: 5.4% Price: $4
90 Smuttynose Vunderbar! Pilsner
This accessible, flavorful lager is incredibly sessionable. Brewed with German malt and Czech Saaz hops, it pours a light straw color, with an 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
87 Herrmannsdorfer Schweinsbräu Gold Bavarian Lager
This clean, highly refreshing selection pours a clear light-gold color, with a frothy off-white head that lingers. Initial aromas of mildly sweet malts open the bouquet, with secondary notes of grain, hay and subtle accents of grassy hops and honey. A hint of mineral adds character to the palate, which is clean and well balanced, thanks to slightly tart and astringent notes that counter the sweet malt flavors. This would be an ideal match for a plate of cured meats and cheeses.
abv: 4.8% Price: $4/500ml
87 Full Sail Brewer’s Share Big Daddy J’s Imperial Lager
This pours a golden-orange color, with a thin head and intensely heady aromas of caramel malt, orange oil, sweet grass and pressed yellow flower. Smooth and creamy, the strong, sweet-malt core takes center stage over secondary accents of pepper and grapefruit rind. Lifting carbonation keeps the palate from feeling too heavy or cloying, and a soft, piney accent adds depth to the finish.
abv: 8% Price: $5/22oz