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What are your feelings on the amount of readily accesible craft lagers vs ales?

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by Providence, Jan 17, 2013.

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What are your feelings on the amount of readily accesible craft lagers vs ales?

  1. I wish there were no craft lagers! All ales, all the time!

    3.4%
  2. I am fine with the amount of lagers I have access to.

    33.9%
  3. I wish there were more lagers available, but I am still mainly an ale girl/guy

    46.0%
  4. I wish it was an even 50/50 split between ales and lagers

    14.9%
  5. I wish lagers dominated and ales just had a little section at the end of the aisle

    1.7%
  1. loupap

    loupap Savant (300) Rhode Island Jun 21, 2008

    Definitely know the Track. I should go there right now and get a taste of Bolt Cutter . . .
  2. Pegli

    Pegli Savant (305) Rhode Island Aug 30, 2006

    I didn't want to disclose the location since my point was more of a commentary on the current state of the craft beer scene and not a slight toward any of RI's fine drinking establishments.

    BTW - I didn't see any lagers on tap at Julian's either when I was there a few weeks ago...
  3. Scott, from what I can tell all of the ‘sexy’ lagers from Jack’s Abby are American Pale Lagers. For example: Hoponius Union & Jabby Brau are both American Pale Lagers.

    Based upon your past discussion on New Belgium Shift Pale Lager I think that it is safe to say: nothing for you to see here!?!

    Cheers!
  4. I'm not a big lager fan so even though their hoppy lagers are decent, I'd rather an ale so I can't judge there straight up Lagers compared to others. They won an award at the GABF for their Smoke & Dagger so doesn't sound like they are a one hit wonder with hops.
  5. True, they're not, I was only speaking generally, not in absolutes. Regarding S&D, this is simply where my own personal tastes comes into play. I know most people love that beer. I thought it was fine with a plate of BBQ, but I don't care that much for it on its own. That beer is also indicative of my previous point about many of their lagers not hitting a crave for a traditional take. S&D is kinda schwarzbier, kinda rauchbier, but neither. If I want a great schwarzbier I don't think of Jack's Abby. If I want a kick-ass rauchbier, I DID have to look elsewhere until Jack's came out with Fire in the Ham this past fall. I'll give them much due respect for that one, it's delicious.
  6. I would buy them more if I saw more.
  7. ThirstyFace

    ThirstyFace Initiate (0) New York Jan 11, 2013

    I love lagers and it depresses me how few they are in market. The IPA/RIS-centric view of craft annoys the shit out of me, and in my opinion is a very Non-BA outlook.

    Spring will be here soon, and with St Boisterous no longer in bottles, I expect a big bleeping void for what I will so desperately crave.
  8. Wait, what?!?! No St. Boisterous?! Is this a cruel joke? I have been checking bottle shops like a kid peeking around the corner on Xmas morning, hoping I'd see it in the cooler. Now you say nay? Is it draft only?
  9. More American-brewed craft lagers would be A-OK with me, but before that happens I'd like the percentage we already have take a major jump in the quality department. I'm satisfied with the Pilsners I can get, but not much else these days- some excellent helles and dunkels sure would be nice.
    Biffster likes this.
  10. More fresh helles would make me so happy.....
    BigCheese likes this.
  11. lagers, baby, lagers
    acevenom likes this.
  12. ESHBG

    ESHBG Aficionado (205) Pennsylvania Jul 30, 2011

    Lagers are what got me into craft brewing in the first place, they will always have a special place in my heart and yes, I definitely wouldn't mind seeing more GOOD Lagers out there. But to break the issue down, as mentioned earlier, the economics of them are a tough sell for the smaller breweries. And as my palate has developed I have to admit that Lagers are a bit one-dimensional and they all pretty much taste the same when you get right down to it [in comparison to Ales vs. Ales] and the taste profile is nothing like an Ale's. This is not a bad thing depending on how you look at it and this is what I feel exactly what the purpose of Lagers are...almost a white vs. red wine thing.

    So take the economics + the taste profile and that you can typically do a lot less with a Lager than you can with an Ale, and you have a pretty tough sell for many craft breweries.

    Another can of worms argument is that there are enough Macro Lagers out there (and while we can be harsh and for good reason, they are not all total garbage), so why even bother with the Lager category if you are a craft brewer?
  13. Apparently your palate's expansion is inversely related to your sphere of reference's contraction. Wow....
    acevenom likes this.
  14. acevenom

    acevenom Advocate (545) Louisiana Oct 7, 2011

    I'd also love more excellent craft brewed lagers of all styles. Dortmunders, kellers, and schwarzbiers are underrated. And I have a serious desire to see more excellent craft brewed rauchbiers. Oh yes.
    TongoRad likes this.
  15. fx20736

    fx20736 Advocate (510) New York Mar 7, 2009

    BMC beers are adjunct lagers. When someone discovers Craft Beer Ales are a Brave New World. There are good lagers; Pilseners are great in the Summer, Vienna Lagers are always great, Dopplebocks in the Winter but for the most part Ales (IPA's, EPA's, Bitters, Stouts, Porters) are the domain of craft drinkers (including me)
  16. I think it is because lagers are generally pretty similar to each other. Ales have such a wide range of types they can be.

    Lagers: Lager, bock, dopplebock.
    Ales: Double, triple, sour, ipa, stout, barleywine, and the list goes on.

    Ales just covers a more broad range of beers, rather than lagers which has a limited amount of styles that are actually lagered.
  17. Todd

    Todd Founder (1,430) Colorado Aug 23, 1996 Staff Member

    That's mostly because brewers are ale-centric today. Generally speaking, brewing ales is easier and the output to market is quicker. Whereas lager brewing is unforgiving when it comes to flaws, requires maturation and if a brewery isn't setup to brew lagers ... it's simply not as efficient or profitable as a result.

    Thankfully we have Jack's Abby in MA, who prove on a regular basis that lagers can be just as creative and tasty as any ale.

    That said, I want more lagers. Now.

    (PS - This poll is flawed. There's no option for those who simply want more lagers.)
  18. “Apparently your palate's expansion is inversely related to your sphere of reference's contraction.”

    Woo-whew! That is some mighty fancy verbiage there.

    Next thing you know we are gonna hear a fancy word like “nostomania !?!;)

    Cheers!
  19. Do you think that if more, well produced craft lagers were available the beer-geek community would come to embrace them as they do ales? I do. I think if they were made and, more importantly perhaps marketed, with the same enthusiasm as ales we'd see the trading forums blowing up in search of lager-whales, ha ha.
  20. acevenom

    acevenom Advocate (545) Louisiana Oct 7, 2011

    Not all lagers taste the same. Even Budweiser doesn't taste the same as Miller High Life or Coors and this is BMC we're talking about. When you go from helles to dunkel, the taste is different, but both are lagers. Ditto for Dortmunder to schwarzbier and so on. There's a lot of good flavor in a fresh, well-crafted lager because the malt and hop profiles really have to shine here. Then when you get into rauchbiers, it's a completely new world for a lager experience.
    Mandark likes this.
  21. He has a limited idea of what a lager is. A trip to Franconia would fix that. Maybe.

    I shake my head when I read about lagers vs. ale on these forums. The only difference is the yeast. You can make an assertive lager if you want, and don't care so much for style.

    Drinking a youngish Landbier I made. It is starting to lager out, but did have a lot of Kellerbier things going for it. For every guy who says they think lagers all taste the same, have you had a Kellerbier, or a Rauchbier, or a Landbier?
    herrburgess and acevenom like this.
  22. Here he comes to save the day! You know that CAP-man is on the way.

    Yup, time for me to pontificate once again:

    So, believe it or not, before prohibition American breweries made tasty lagers. At that time they did not call them Classic American Pilsners. They were just American lagers.

    A Classic American Pilsner is an easy beer to make: I homebrew them a lot. The BJCP style guidelines provide all the information you need.
    In a nutshell:

    · Grain: 80% 6 row malts, 20% corn
    · Hops:

    - For Bittering: Cluster hops 25-40 IBUs (I prefer 40 IBUs)
    - For Flavor: Medium to high hop flavor from noble hops
    - For Aroma: Medium to high hop aroma from noble hops
    · Lager yeast

    A well-made genuine CAP beer is a very enjoyable beer to drink. Any of the BMC breweries or Regional Breweries (e,g., Genesee, etc.) could very easily make CAP beers. All they need to do is back off the amount of adjunct (corn) they use in their regular AAL beers and up their hopping rates (bittering, flavor and aroma hop additions).

    Cheers!
  23. This is madness. When you take two totally different ales like DFH 120 Min and Sam Smith Taddy Porter, then sure, it's a big gap. But if you took the extremes of each of the lager spectrum you'd have a similar gap. Ales can fall victim to the "they all taste the same" line of thinking as well. Pale Ale, EIPA, slightly hopped up ESB, West Coast Amber...those beers will all taste very similar.
  24. That guy should do a tasting of a Bud light. Jever Pils, a Sclenkerla Maerzen, and a Doppelbock and then tell me if they taste the same. Put a Kellerbier, a Landbier, and Helles in there for extra credit.
  25. Todd

    Todd Founder (1,430) Colorado Aug 23, 1996 Staff Member

    Definitely. Unfortunately many within the US craft beer community have done a great job of giving lagers a bad name over the last decade or so as a result of their disdain for a handful of large brewers. More quality lagers (and diversity) would help remove the stigma with those who don't fully understand what they are and can be.
    Providence likes this.
  26. Agreed. There is such an intense "anxiety of influence" at work in the craft beer community when it comes to traditional lagers that anything that remotely resembles "fizzy yellow stuff" is frequently dismissed out of hand -- and even carried to the extremes where entire U.S. craft beer marketing campaigns are based on this concept.
    Providence likes this.
  27. Biffster

    Biffster Savant (365) Michigan Mar 29, 2004

    A few disconnected musings...

    As has been noted numerous times, the time and expense makes it difficult for brewers. But there are some out there and I do like them for the most part. GLB Edmund Fitzgerald, Brooklyn Lager, et all. - great go to beers. I would agree with the quality issue though. With a few exceptions, lagers should be not only clean, but subtle as well - not boring, but subtle. I myself have kind of had it with the Imperial Pils thing. Its not that it cant be good, but most seem to be nothing more than stunt brewing with a different yeast.

    When I go to a new brewery, I always try their blonde and any lager they have. If you want to find out if the brewer knows what they are doing, that is how to find out.

    One outstanding exception to the ales domination thing in my area is Wolverine State Brewing Co in Ann Arbor. Only a few years old, this micro actually specializes in lagers. There are always 8-12 beers on tap and most are lagers. And, what's more important, damned good ones to boot.

    I get why people like Ales, and I certainly do as much as anyone. But I do have a special place in my heart for lagers. I admire the skill of the brewer, and I love the clean character. Assertive or mild, a lager is all about the flavor of the ingredients - malt, hops and water.

    My CSB lager story...

    I spent some time in Bavaria and Austria. Amazing. I had Kellerbier freshly tapped from a wooden cask in Munich, masskrugs of helles and dunkel in the Hofbrauhaus, tried a microbrewery in Salzberg, and enjoyed wandering the altstadt of Graz and watching the sun set over the fortress while enjoying helles. But, to tell the truth, by my last night there, I was lagered out. I was wandering around the altstadt for a night cap (a place literally right out of the movies, with winding cobblestone streets shiny from the mist, low arches, houses and buildings built out over the streets) and found, of all things, a little expat British Pub, no sign or anything, just off one of these streets. Quite literally the best Irish Stout I have EVER had. It was probably nothing special (Beamish or Murphys - I cant remember which). But at that point, my palate was SCREAMING for some bite and intensity. I can honestly say I will never forget that beer.

    So, viva la difference, I guess...
  28. jtg5678

    jtg5678 Savant (255) Illinois Nov 27, 2012

    I yearn for lagers because much of the ale market is so homogenized. There is so little difference from beer to beer nowadays that we as consumers could use more variety of styles.
    Providence likes this.
  29. It's interesting that so many folks cite the cost of lagering as a reason why more brewers don't do it. I say that it's interesting not because I don't think it's true, but because the vast majority of beer drinkers prefer lagers. Of course, most prefer lousy lagers. Nevertheless, the affinity for lager is there amongst humans the world over. I would imagine Brooklyn Lager and Sam Adams Boston Lager are big sellers not just because they get the beer geek at a wedding with no other options, but because they get the ocassioanl BMC guy to request a pint, maybe even another.

    What I am saying is this: Yes, it costs more to lager, but if you can pull one off that entices the BMC group then you'll make the money back and then some. I know, I know, easier said than done......
  30. re-Wolverine.
    Oliver and company have been knocking some out of the park. I hear the Czech Pils that went on recently is outstanding. Not an easy beer for them to brew.

    When I was working in Germany, the wife was craving a hoppy American beer. Brought back to Germany some Alpha King when in the states on a business trip. She said it was one dimensional and could hardly finish it. Now she is happy when we can drink homebrewed Pilsners on the deck in the summer. Grass is greener, no?
    Providence likes this.
  31. I used to crave U.S. C-hop beers, too. Of course I also used to crave Sweet Sixteen donuts...not sure what, if anything, this means.
  32. ESHBG

    ESHBG Aficionado (205) Pennsylvania Jul 30, 2011

    Ha ha wow, that sure didn't take long! I think some of you may have missed what I was getting at, and maybe I worded it poorly? Again, though, it is important to note that I am a big Lager/Pils fan and have had many (I will gladly bore you with a list if you'd like, I do drink Lagers regularly, and making assumptions like I just don't know my stuff is silly and far from the truth). My palate may have developed differently than yours but do a quick search, and you will see that many others share the same feelings as well. Does that mean Lagers are inferior to Ales? That they don't deserve to exist? That they aren't flavorful? That I like Lagers any less? Absolutely not! But TO ME, a Lager of one type now tastes very similar to a Lager of another type 90% of the time, and I just don't get the same results with Ales.

    He pretty much nailed exactly what I was getting at:

  33. “I used to crave U.S. C-hop beers, too. Of course I also used to crave Sweet Sixteen donuts …”

    Hmmm, nothing fancy or poetic there. Disappointed!!;)

    Cheers!
  34. MammaGoose

    MammaGoose Aficionado (210) Wyoming Jan 10, 2013

    I'm definitely more drawn to ales than lagers. But I don't think that's necessarily because I dislike lagers, but I unfortunately associate them with weak, mass-produced, boring, light, watery beers. Which certainly doesn't have to be the case. I've tried a few lagers that were genuinely interesting. Smoked lagers, dark lagers, amber lagers, or even just a very well done craft American lager. It's definitely a subtler set of flavors, but I think that can be interesting.

    At the liquor store or a bar, I'm almost guaranteed to choose nearly any ale over a lager. The only exception being if it's really hot out and I'm going to be outside (even then I'd likely grab a hoppy pale or IPA). But again, I don't think that's a fault of lagers nor even my own preference. It's more likely a lack of education and appreciation. I haven't tried enough lagers, I don't have enough variety of lagers available to me, and I have probably passed up some great beers I could have tried because my eyes passed over a lager in search of an ale.

    I do have my first homebrewed pilsner fermenting in the fridge though...about two more weeks...
    herrburgess and Providence like this.
  35. loafinaround

    loafinaround Savant (370) New York Jul 16, 2011

    So I grew-up in a german home... good lagers were always available. Then in my early 30's, I drank my first ale. Very tasty... Then I started going darker... and darker.
    Lagers are a very easy entry point to craft beer... But, if you look at some of the most popular flavor profiles in food/beverages.... coffee / chocolate / citrus / various spices, lagers can't really provide that.
    While lagers are ideal on a hot day, I think as a beer drinker explores more, their preferred beer profile often will match their favorite foods... which more often than not, will mean more stouts and ales being purchased.
  36. I also find it interesting that people keep talking about how they can enjoy a lager on a hot day, but that's the end of their relationship with lagers. Seems like that is fallout from BMC marketing campaigns more than anything else, especially considering that lagers were born in cold weather and consumed in mass amounts by cold-weather folk.
  37. MammaGoose

    MammaGoose Aficionado (210) Wyoming Jan 10, 2013

    And that's certainly an interesting point. I'm sure there's an affected part of my psyche that associates hot summer days with a refreshing bottle of Bud Light splashing into ice water on a billboard or something. But, at the same time, I'm simply drawn to lighter crisper beers, lagers or ales, in hotter weather and darker fuller-bodied beers in colder months. I go between IPA's/pale ales/occasional lagers in the summer to stouts/porters/browns in the winter. Hoppy and crisp and light in the summer, dark and malty and full-bodied in the winter. I don't want to drink lemonade in December, and I don't want to drink hot chocolate in the summer. Lagers are kind of my personal lemonade of beers.
  38. IPA's seem like by far the most popular style of beer among craft beer drinkers so it would makes sense that there are more Ale's out there than lagers. But having Jack's Abby around is a reminder that lagers can be pretty damn good too. I'm happy I live where I can get fresh Jack's Abby, but certainly wouldn't mind if there were more breweries out there like them.
  39. Totally understand, and I hope I didn't make it seem as if my previous comment singled you out exclusively. Many have been saying similar things. I guess it's the "I'm simply drawn to lighter crisper lagers in the summer" that I am interested in. What is this "simply drawn" tha so many have? Why is it that you, and me as well for that matter, are drawn in such a way? You liken the desires to that of hot chocolate vs. lemonade, which I find a very ironic connection to make. I say ironic becuse both of those two drinks are marketed (like the lagers) for a specific situation. You never see commercials with actors, read books with characters, or see movies with people that are drinking hot chocolate at a 4th of July party, right? Of course not. But, we all know plenty of people who drink hot coffee in the summer and people who drink cold soda in the winter. We have been taught that those beverages can be enjoyed all year long, much as we have been taught that lemonade and hot chocolate are best enjoyed in their respective seasons AND, unfortunately I must say, much as we have also been taught that lagers are for warm weather.

    Interesting stuff. I smell a PhD thesis brewing (pun intended).
    MammaGoose likes this.
  40. MammaGoose

    MammaGoose Aficionado (210) Wyoming Jan 10, 2013

    First of all, I would gladly volunteer as a test subject for the thesis. You can give me lagers and stouts year round and assess my enjoyment of each during various weather conditions.

    I think part of it definitely is advertising and conditioning. But I thing it can go even broader than lager vs stout and lemonade vs hot chocolate. Fresh fruit/salad/grilling are summer foods while stews/casseroles/heavy dishes are winter foods. I have absolutely no desire to eat a heavy creamy casserole in the summer months. I want light and fresh foods when it's hot out. In the winter, I want hearty and savory and satisfying. I feel like those same descriptors could be applied to our beer (and other beverage) preferences. In hot weather, I want light, refreshing, crisp, fresh, etc. In the cold I'm drawn to hearty, filling, strong, full-bodied, etc. After I mow the lawn or around the campfire after a day of hiking, I want something crisp and refreshing. While I absolutely love the stoutest of stouts, a stout probably isn't what I'd reach for in this situation. And likewise, after a day of icefishing or skiing or a cozy snowy afternoon, I want something dark and hearty. Like, a porter or stout.

    To some extent, and based on several variables, preference is variable based on environment. Whether it be societal conditioning or a mental or physiological reaction to different flavors and mouthfeels.
    Providence and Crusader like this.

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