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Lagers and Ales... can't we all just get along?!

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by BigBarley, Feb 24, 2013.

  1. herrburgess

    herrburgess Poobah (1,035) South Carolina Nov 4, 2009 Beer Trader

    Yes, I have heard the term used there many times.

  2. “Yes, I have heard the term used there many times.” In the context of a Kolsch beer? I have read where that is sometimes used to detail an Alt but I have never read it in the context of a Kolsch beer.

  3. herrburgess

    herrburgess Poobah (1,035) South Carolina Nov 4, 2009 Beer Trader

    Yes, in talking about Koelsch.
  4. Thank Scott! I always appreciate what you have to say.

  5. herrburgess

    herrburgess Poobah (1,035) South Carolina Nov 4, 2009 Beer Trader

    Well, you are correct that the Koelsch Konvention refers to it as an "obergaeriges Vollbier." They break it down into categories defined by, I believe, the Deutsche Brauerbund. One one level, the DBB distinguishes beer type (Bierart) based on what type of yeast is used, ober- or untergaerig, which translate as top- or bottom-fermenting. To confuse these as direct equivalents of "ale" or "lager" yeast is to assign meaning that is not intended. When describing the beer "genus" (Gattung), they base it on the degree Plato (Stammwuerze), with Vollbier being by far the most common in Germany (under which both Koelsch and Alt -- and 90+% of other beers -- fall). They go on to define characteristics (Charakteristic) and brewing process (Brauprozess) for each style. Since part of the brewing process for Koelsch involves storing at low temperatures typically associated with Lagerbiere, many people talk about Koelsch as an obergaeriges Lagerbier. Now, whether the DBB would do so, I don't know. I suspect they'd stick strictly to their terminology -- which includes Helles Lagerbier as neither a Bierart nor a Biergattung, but rather a Biersorte -- and more or less avoid the 'controversy' altogether. Easier for us all to 'just get along' that way....
  6. So many great lagers get average ratings from people who'd rather be drinking something else. Look at Hansa Dortmunder - perfectly good beer, square with its style. The low ratings might lead you to believe it's just blah, but a good deal of those ratings often come from people who are thinking, "Hey, this doesn't taste like Big Pappy's Two-Fisted Hop Annihilator." The trend in American craft beer seems bent on that kind of flavor, so good clean examples of lagers like Session or even Fordham don't make the cut as readily as the more aggressive styles.

    I would like to see this trend change, because I'll take a Session Lager or Hansa over many other lager brands that I see in the average supermarket.

    In the ale department, I'm a big fan of Geary's. Their Pale Ale (with the lobster on the label) shows how much we can learn from tradition even while developing our own characteristic American styles.
    Providence likes this.
  7. Crusader

    Crusader Savant (440) Sweden Feb 4, 2011

    The brewery Störtebeker brews an "Atlantik Ale" which is hopped with American hops, under "yeast" they describe it as warm fermented with top-fermenting ale-yeast (Warme Gärung mit obergäriger Ale- Hefe). They brew several Weizens that they describe as warm fermented with top-fermenting yeast (Warme Gärung mit obergäriger Hefe), no mention of ale and thus distinguishing between the two. Ale thus appears to be a rather modern loanword in their use of it, used for a beer inspired by American craft beer styles, ales in particular, whilst they see no need to use the word to describe one of their warm & top fermented beers in the German Weizen-style.

  8. “Well, you are correct that the Koelsch Konvention refers to it as an "obergaeriges Vollbier."

    Again, thanks for that input. I always appreciate the education I receive on these forums.

    “Easier for us all to 'just get along' that way....” I hear that! I just want to go on record that I have never referred to somebody (or a bunch of somebodies) as being a “Twat”. In that way I have personally made my effort to ‘just get long’.

  9. ChanChan

    ChanChan Advocate (620) California Dec 12, 2009 Beer Trader

    Is this a new beer? I need a sixer of this!!
  10. Premo88

    Premo88 Champion (865) Texas Jun 6, 2010

    I'll admit I'm loving the ale family more and more as I learn more about beer, but I still love a good pilsener/lager. In fact, Karbach's Sympathy for the Lager surprised me recently. It was good.
  11. EdTheEdge

    EdTheEdge Champion (755) California Mar 26, 2011

    Yes it's currently only available in California; and it's another impressive Anchor brew!
  12. Chinon01

    Chinon01 Savant (485) Pennsylvania Jan 23, 2007

    I'm confused by this post. Are we discussing light lager and pilsner style beer or are we discussing all lager beers?
  13. Lol... nope. Never said that. But i do enjoy them at a cooler temperature than most beers. And i don't find they exhaust my taste buds like a really hoppy/malty beer. I have had some really, really, different lagers. You can adjust, hops, malts during the brew just like ales so obviously the style isn't limited "ONLY crisp, cold and refreshing."
  14. I'm with you man. I've been on a lager kick lately, and there's good ones to choose from. NB Shift, SA Noble Pils, about any German pilsner, the Full Sail LTD line (have some 04 now, it's nice). I dunno man, I try to appreciate every style for what it is.
  15. Chinon01

    Chinon01 Savant (485) Pennsylvania Jan 23, 2007

    I'm sure you are well aware that there are many low hop low malt ales. It's not really an ale vs lager thing it's a heavy aggressive style versus not heavy aggressive style regardless of whether a top or bottom fermenting yeast is used. Samichlaus will exhaust your palate.
  16. Sneers

    Sneers Savant (455) Pennsylvania Dec 27, 2009

    Marquis' thinking with respect to the ale/lager division is starting to rub off on me.
    tai4ji2x likes this.
  17. I'd say that's a good way to put it.
  18. steveh

    steveh Champion (970) Illinois Oct 8, 2003

    Come over to the dark side... ;)
  19. steveh

    steveh Champion (970) Illinois Oct 8, 2003

    Um, yes? :D
  20. Stahlsturm

    Stahlsturm Savant (440) Germany Mar 21, 2005

    1. I'm BAVARIAN. Calling Bavarians Germans is the equivalent of calling a Scotsman English. If done in person you'd be lucky to get away just having been yelled at :p

    2. I don't know Ron but we likely have more than grumpiness in common. For starters we like good beer, yes ? :)
    MarriedAtGI likes this.
  21. Stahlsturm

    Stahlsturm Savant (440) Germany Mar 21, 2005

    I refuse to drink beer out of shot glasses... :p
  22. Stahlsturm

    Stahlsturm Savant (440) Germany Mar 21, 2005

    Which would explain why I never heard of it.
  23. Chinon01

    Chinon01 Savant (485) Pennsylvania Jan 23, 2007

    Does your passport say Bavaria or Germany?
  24. GuzzLah

    GuzzLah Savant (445) Illinois Mar 2, 2013

    I've drank plenty of lagers, both macro and craft. Generally speaking, I think they are just OK and don't drink them much anymore. I prefer to drink something that I really like and most of the time it's an Ale.

    The thing I don't understand about this thread is why would it bother anyone, if someone else doesn't enjoy the same beer as they do? Do you need your choice of beer to be validated by everyone who drinks beer? Because, that's what it sounds like.
  25. Hopefully the OP (BigBarley) will chime in.

    You ask: “The thing I don't understand about this thread is why would it bother anyone, if someone else doesn't enjoy the same beer as they do?”

    Needless to say but I can’t speak for all of the posters. From my perspective I think the issue that bothers some folks is that the BAs who are big fans of ales (particularly BIG ales) often look down upon the BAs who appreciate a lager. This can sometimes come across in posts on the order of: “why do you drink that weak, flavorless beer. You should drink something like {insert BIG ale name here}". Granted, not every BA that prefers ales will make a post such as that but there is indeed a perceptible ‘divide’ among many BAs. So, the message within the post title of “can't we all just get along?!” is just a request that it would be helpful if those BAs who are solely proponents of ales (in particular BIG ales) be accepting of those of us who like to drink lagers and who don’t view them as weak, flavorless beers.

    I for one like BIG ales like IPAs, Russian Imperial Stouts, etc. I also like lagers like Helles, Pilsners, etc. I am ‘bilingual’!:)

    MarriedAtGI likes this.
  26. Chinon01

    Chinon01 Savant (485) Pennsylvania Jan 23, 2007

    Nice response. But what frustrates me is equating "lager" w/ only pils, Helles, adjunct light lager, etc. Lager is more than that; and any self described "beer advocate" should know that IMHO. There are smaller lagers and insanely big lagers. Having said that I'm having a Stewarts Brewing Co. Munich Helles lager and its amazing. Not merely "light and refreshing" but an interesting experience.
  27. Yes, a well-made Helles is a beer of beauty. IMHO, a Helles is all about the balance: nice bready/malty taste with just enough hops to complements the malt (and needless to say: no off-flavors). I really enjoy Sly Fox Helles and Manayunk Blonde.

  28. Chinon01

    Chinon01 Savant (485) Pennsylvania Jan 23, 2007

    Sly Fox, Hofbrauhaus, and Stiegl are my favorite Munich Helles.
  29. Crusader

    Crusader Savant (440) Sweden Feb 4, 2011

    I've come to realize that there are many different kinds of beer drinkers out there with different starting points. Some drinkers enjoyed macro lagers and simply expanded into craft lagers and ale once it was available to them or they became aware of their existence. Some drinkers didn't enjoy the macro lagers and found beer that they enjoyed among the craft lagers and ales instead. Some drinkers didn't enjoy the macro lagers but found that they enjoyed the spectrum provided within the craft ale category, but at the same time don't particularly enjoy or care for craft lagers either. (By macro I simply mean beers made by non-craft breweries, established breweries or traditional breweries if you will.)

    What I'm interested in is finding out whether there are others such as myself who have an interest and taste in beer which spans both lagers and ales, both macro and craft. It can often seem as if there's an either or situation, either people enjoy lagers and don't become interested in beer, or they become interested in beer and don't enjoy lagers anymore. Naturally there has to exist a group of people who bridge these two positions, myself being one of them.
  30. “Hofbrauhaus, and Stiegl”. Good to know. I will say that I have a reticence to purchase German imported beers. I have no idea how they were handled in transport and too many German breweries don’t properly date their beers for my taste.

  31. Chinon01

    Chinon01 Savant (485) Pennsylvania Jan 23, 2007

    So you're saying you can enjoy a dark rich high abv lager like Korbinian doppelbock as well as a dark rich high abv ale like an Oatmeal stout.
  32. TongoRad

    TongoRad Poobah (1,045) New Jersey Jun 3, 2004 Beer Trader

    Honestly? Jack- you are going to have to get over that reluctance; things are so much better these days in terms of the quality of what we get and how it has been treated. Just go to a shop with a pretty good turnover rate (you definitely don't want to get dusty old bottles). There is just no way to get a proper baseline (especially for Munich style beers) without going to the source. I have honestly never had a problem with Weihenstephaner, Augustiner, Ayinger, Hacker-Pschorr, Schlenkerla, and others- so I don't think you really have that much to fear.
  33. “Augustiner”. Somewhat ironic that you should mention Augustiner. The importing company for that beer is Global Village Importer which is located in walking distance from my home (co-located with my local retail beer distributor: Kunda Beverage). There is always a big stack of Augustiner beers at Kunda. There is no dates on the cases of those beers. I have never purchased a case of Augustiner and I will be 100% honest with you I never will. I have absolutely no idea how old those beer were or how they were handled in transport. I have no reluctance what so ever to travel to Sly Fox Brewpub (a 20 minute ride) and purchase lots of Sly Fox Helles.

    A case of to each his own?

  34. TongoRad

    TongoRad Poobah (1,045) New Jersey Jun 3, 2004 Beer Trader

    I suppose- but my point was about the transportation over to this country, and it has been pretty reliable in my experience. How the stuff is handled once it is here should definitely be cause for concern- but I can get the good stuff up here (if you are ever in the neighborhood ;)).
  35. Chinon01

    Chinon01 Savant (485) Pennsylvania Jan 23, 2007

    I've never had a bad experience w/ Stiegl or Hofbrau. It's worth the risk trust me.;]
  36. TongoRad & Chinon01 I truly do hear what you are saying!

    My ‘beer money’ goes to buying homebrew supplies (I have a homebrewed Kolsch carbonating right now) and other beers that I feel are assured of being fresh. I am sure that Chinon01 can relate to this: I have many, many options of purchasing locally brewed German style beers that are of high quality and 100% fresh. I could certainly take a chance on buying a beer like Augustiner (or Stiegl or Hofbrau) but really, what is the point!?! I can homebrew a German style beer that I know with 100% certitude is 100% fresh or I could purchase locally brewed beer (from production breweries or brewpubs) that I know are of high quality and I know with 100% certitude they are fresh. Is there really an incentive to take a chance on a German imported beer that isn’t properly dated?

  37. TongoRad

    TongoRad Poobah (1,045) New Jersey Jun 3, 2004 Beer Trader

    Depends on the style, I suppose, but if we're talking Munich Helles then you would be getting a beer that is at least an order of magnitude better than what you'd be getting locally (I'm thinking Augustiner vs. Victory or Stoudts, in this case- and this isn't really meant as a put down of those beers, which are fine examples). By me, the Hoffbrau is actually cheaper, too- so you are not even talking about paying much of a premium price in this regard.

    What I said earlier about a baseline applies in this case, and also makes taking the chance worthwhile- if you are going to emulate something, you should immerse yourself in the top versions to really understand what makes them as well regarded as they are.

  38. I do enjoy Weihenstephan Original when I find it on tap at local beer bars. IMHO, Sly Fox Helles is the equal of that beer.

  39. Chinon01

    Chinon01 Savant (485) Pennsylvania Jan 23, 2007

    I like Sly Fox Helles a lot but its not the equal to Weihenstephaner Original which I had at Frankford Hall two weeks ago.
  40. Crusader

    Crusader Savant (440) Sweden Feb 4, 2011

    I haven't had Korbinian, and in fact only one doppelbock that I know of (Spaten Optimator), but several bock or bock strenght beers (albeit pale bocks). I favor lower abv beers though over high abv ones, and for a dark and malty beer I'd go with a dunkel or schwarzbier, or even a vienna lager rather than a doppelbock or bock. I think the higher abv beers serve their purpose as special beers for special occasions or as holiday beers (the German bock beer tradition or the Swedish tradition of brewing stronger, darker beers for Christmas), but I'll rather have a Pilsner, Dortmunder, Münchener helles, Dunkel, Vienna lager, Schwarzbier etc. for "everyday" beer drinking. Also the balance of bitterness and sweetness tends to be better among lower abv lagers, bocks and stronger lagers in general can tend towards the sweet side with not enough bitterness to balance it out, and I personally prefer a dry and bitter beer such as a pilsner, or a beer with a balance of maltiness and bitterness such as a dortmunder. In a dunkel or schwarzbier the roastiness of the malt can also act to balance out the sweetness, which is also the case for many stouts and porters below 6% abv (which I also enjoy).
    JackHorzempa likes this.