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Best European Lager?

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by EmperorBatman, Mar 14, 2019.

  1. EmperorBatman

    EmperorBatman Initiate (40) Mar 16, 2018 District of Columbia

    Considering that there has been some recent discussion on reconsidering the big American macro lagers, as well as another discussing the reformulation of Harp Lager, I was interested in getting to understand what the BA community thinks of European lagers and which one they believe is the best. I am interested in having an easily available, easy-drinking, and crisp lager in my fridge to fill the niche between the various styles I'm rotating through right now.

    The category I have in mind are mostly the European Pale Lagers that can be found easily and relatively cheaply, such as what most grocery stores may stock, or what be found low-priced at most liquor stores/packies. However, I am also open to German and Czech Pilsners if they are commonly available and lower-priced (Bitburger and Pilsner Urquell are both examples specific to my local stores).

    Cheers!
     
  2. rypkr

    rypkr Champion (822) Nov 19, 2011 Pennsylvania
    Trader

    Lagers encompass a wide range of styles. What's your favorite American ale?

    My vote for quintessential European "lager" will always be weihenstephaner original.
     
  3. TongoRad

    TongoRad Poo-Bah (2,553) Jun 3, 2004 New Jersey
    Society Trader

    Fwiw, the thread title may be overly broad because it'll get you responses you aren't really looking for- Rauchbiers, Doppelbocks and the like. 'Euro-lager' seems to be more of what you're interested in.

    But now that that's out of the way, I can definitely see the appeal of having some tasty budget easy-drinkers lying around. I've been getting DAB and Radeberger lately, with Kostrizer as a dark beer wild card.

    On another thread it's been posted that Paulaner Original is coming out in 16oz cans now, so you just gotta throw that one in the mix, too, depending on price.
     
  4. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (3,858) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Society

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  5. nc41

    nc41 Poo-Bah (1,709) Sep 25, 2008 North Carolina
    Trader

    I just bought a 6 of Urquell, I’d guess without racking my brain it’s 7 months old. It’s got a light off smell right off the bat from the bottle, I’d say just shy of calling it skunked, in the glass that off nose goes away. It’s tough drinking older beers and comparing then to fresher local efforts. Sometimes I wonder why I bother, if I don’t buy the distributors don’t make money. It’s probably 4 months older than should be, screw the best by date, it’s too damn old at 7 months vs the 9. If yiu want drinkable beer this one is that, but drinkable and optiomal are two very different things. This beer is far from that.
     
  6. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (3,858) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Society

    Dale, I hope that what I am about to say is not overly harsh but: I personally would not have purchased this beer due to its age. Also. lately when I have been purchasing PU it has has been in cans vs. bottles - my personal preference here.

    Cheers!
     
  7. BeastOfTheNortheast

    BeastOfTheNortheast Disciple (327) Dec 26, 2009 Pennsylvania

    Tennent's Lager
     
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  8. EmperorBatman

    EmperorBatman Initiate (40) Mar 16, 2018 District of Columbia

    This has been quite the oversight on my part, and I should have known better, considering how much I enjoy the German styles as a whole.


    I've heard many good things of Golden Pheasant. Unfortunately I doubt that it could be found anywhere around here, but fortunately I have a friend from Slovakia who I'm sure would bring me some to try when I see her next summer.

    Meanwhile I found some Gösser passing through somewhere. Now that's an old friend!
     
    Bitterbill likes this.
  9. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (3,858) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Society

    Perhaps contact the US importer to see if the beer is sold near you:

    http://stawskiusa.com/golden-pheasant/

    Cheers!
     
    EmperorBatman likes this.
  10. nc41

    nc41 Poo-Bah (1,709) Sep 25, 2008 North Carolina
    Trader

    I didn’t have my glasses, so I lost the date a bit. Otherwise your right , a no buy. But I get that odd smell with PU as well as Heinekens, it about smells normal, but I’d guess at its best the 3-4 months of age are the culprit. I’d love to have this fresh on tap to give it a fair shot.
     
  11. muck1979

    muck1979 Initiate (135) Jul 3, 2005 Minnesota

    Oh, man. Gosser. I put back three or four of those sitting outside a bus terminal in Vienna waiting for the bus back to Bratislava. Good times.
     
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  12. THANAT0PSIS

    THANAT0PSIS Crusader (775) Aug 3, 2010 Wisconsin
    Trader

    I recently did a side-by-side, non-blind, of three of the cheaper canned German pilsners: König Pilsner, Bitburger, and Krombacher. My girlfriend and I both found König and Bitburger to be two sides of the same coin, with König being the more crisp, slightly hoppier, drier of the two, and Bitburger being a little sweeter and breadier; both were excellent and are well worth their $6/4/16.9oz cost. Krombacher was grainy and too sweet for our palates as well as lacking in crispness; it's fine for the cost ($9/6/16.9oz.), but I see no point to buying it when the other two are available. I prefer Warsteiner to Krombacher, if memory serves, but for the cheaper German pilsners, König is aptly named for me (Ayinger Pils is excellent as well, as is Trumer, and Stiegl and Jever are both amazing...but only on tap; Radeberger and Veltins are solid, and Weihenstephan, while good, is way too sweet for me; none of these were featured in the lineup, hence leaving them as a footnote).

    A while back, we did a Czech one as well, which featured Pilsner Urquell, Czechvar, Praga, Krušovice Imperial, and the Slovakian Golden Pheasant. This one was blind. Urquell was the clear unanimous winner for us followed by Czechvar for me and Golden Pheasant for my girlfriend. Urquell is one of my all-time favorite beers, sugar cookie, bready malts perfectly balanced by lots of Saaz, and the fact that it can be found for $4-5/4/16.9oz. is insane. It's one of the best values in beer. Czechvar is pricier and both cleaner and drier, and it does come in a mini-keg, which is pretty cool. Golden Pheasant's branding is unimpressive (and the packaging is always on the verge of breaking down if you look at it too hard), but the beer is very good and worth a go; I remember it as somewhere between Urquell and Czechvar, sort of a less in-your-face Urquell. Praga is still good, too, but it was sweeter and less balanced than the others bunch (love Praga Dark as a sidebar). Krušovice was sort of vegetal, oddly minerally, and just a little off. It wasn't horrible, but it was the clear loser of the tasting.

    We plan to do a Euro Lager tasting at some point, but it'll be a while. I predict either Grolsch or Stella will win, but who knows, seeing Samuel Smith's Organic Lager or a Polish dark horse like Okocim or Żywiec come out on top wouldn't surprise me.
     
  13. FBarber

    FBarber Poo-Bah (2,654) Mar 5, 2016 Illinois
    Society Trader

    For Euro pale lagers I really enjoy Kronenbourg 1664. Ill also pick up Peroni occasionally.
     
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  14. PapaGoose03

    PapaGoose03 Poo-Bah (2,319) May 30, 2005 Michigan
    Society

    If you have an Aldi near you check out their beer selection, especially if you're cost conscious. I can't recommend a specific light lager, but I've had some other German styles from there that were very good and at a lower cost than 'brand' names elsewhere.
     
  15. Squire

    Squire Poo-Bah (2,124) Jul 16, 2015 Mississippi
    Society Trader

    They're close enough to same I would just choose based on freshness hoping Bitburger would be the winner,
     
  16. MightyTrustKrusher

    MightyTrustKrusher Initiate (65) Nov 5, 2014 New Jersey

    I generally find the cans to be fresher. Also love the can art and find the serving size to be ideal (truth be told it's hard for me to have just one Urquell though).
     
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  17. Coronaeus

    Coronaeus Champion (803) Apr 21, 2014 Ontario (Canada)
    Trader

    Up here Jever is usually cheap and fresh in cans. That would be my go to.
     
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  18. tone77

    tone77 Poo-Bah (5,604) May 20, 2009 Pennsylvania
    Society

    My pick is Perla Chmielowa from Poland.
    I have seen Golden Pheasant before at State Line Liquors in Elkton, MD. It's an excellent store for imports, and craft beer as well.
     
    FBarber likes this.
  19. zid

    zid Savant (971) Feb 15, 2010 New York
    Trader

    [​IMG]

    My current favorite choice is the one I'm drinking right now (see above). Of course, this isn't "the best European lager," but that's a completely different question than what is really being asked. In my opinion, anything approaching $2 for an 11oz bottle/can shouldn't even be in this particular discussion. When I grabbed this four pack of König, I also bought a canned pilsner from a trendy craft brewer, and that single can was literally more expensive than the entire König 4 pack. I personally dislike pilsners with noticeable diacetyl, and typically end up disliking any packaged in green glass. I like Beck's too, but it's gotta be canned, and it's not even from Europe. It's disqualified on a technicality. I finished this König and I'm having a hard time resisting opening another. My current favorite shrink-wrapped import lager.
     
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  20. mambossa

    mambossa Initiate (138) Jun 30, 2015 Ohio

    @TongoRad mentioned Kostritzer, which is one of my favorite European lagers in general. Krombacher Dark is a little more molasses-y but still quite good.

    In terms of the light stuff, I’ve had good experiences with Reutberger Export Hell, Andescher Vollbier Hell, and obviously canned Pilsner Urquell.

    I would say Gäffel, but it’s technically an ale :yum:
     
    TongoRad likes this.
  21. hopsputin

    hopsputin Meyvn (1,435) Apr 1, 2012 New Jersey

    For Euro Pale lagers, I cant say ive had too too many of them. I guess my favorite might be either Samuel Smith (because it’s the best tasting one I’ve had), or Mythos (100% it’s not a good beer, but I’ve had some great experience while drinking it)

    For Czech Pilsner I gotta give it up for Urquell, with a version (the exact batch escapes me) of Victory Braumeister Pils.
     
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  22. zid

    zid Savant (971) Feb 15, 2010 New York
    Trader

    But to add to that, if you're looking for something much more readily available, I like Peroni. I only buy the canned version though... and it's still way more expensive than König.
     
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  23. SFACRKnight

    SFACRKnight Meyvn (1,285) Jan 20, 2012 Colorado
    Trader

    Ayinger Bavarian pils.
     
    NeroFiddled likes this.
  24. marquis

    marquis Crusader (764) Nov 20, 2005 United Kingdom (England)

    The advertisements for this go over the top. It was first brewed in 1952.
     
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  25. FBarber

    FBarber Poo-Bah (2,654) Mar 5, 2016 Illinois
    Society Trader

    lol. I've never seen an ad for Kronenbourg. But if they were implying that the euro pale lager was brewed since 1664, I'd be skeptical to say the least.
     
    mikeinportc likes this.
  26. jesskidden

    jesskidden Meyvn (1,415) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey

    Kronenbourg did a massive ad campaign in the US in the late 70s-early 80s in an obvious attempt to gain some of Heineken's market share (then the #1 import - with around 40% of the segment), settling up their own US import subsidiary, Kronenbourg USA.

    Beside claiming to be the "Biggest selling bottled beer in Europe" and using the slogan “In Europe the beer they export most is Heineken but the beer they drink and enjoy most is Kronenbourg”, they did indeed imply the beer dated from the 1600s, like in this 'snip' from a print ad:
    [​IMG]
     
    #26 jesskidden, Mar 14, 2019
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2019
  27. steveh

    steveh Poo-Bah (2,159) Oct 8, 2003 Illinois

    I'm sure @marquis can remember "Have a Kronie with your crony!" :wink:
     
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  28. marquis

    marquis Crusader (764) Nov 20, 2005 United Kingdom (England)

    As Pale lager first appeared in the 1840s, and most lagers were dark long after that, Kronenbourg must have invented the time machine
     
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  29. jesskidden

    jesskidden Meyvn (1,415) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey

    Nah, they could have just borrowed Stella Artois' - but set the dial nearly 300 years later.
    [​IMG]
     
  30. Bitterbill

    Bitterbill Poo-Bah (6,397) Sep 14, 2002 Wyoming
    Society Trader

    Peroni is quite good on draught. Otherwise, I only see bottles and I am not buying them.
     
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  31. tigg924

    tigg924 Poo-Bah (4,831) Apr 30, 2008 Massachusetts

    The one I drink most often and probably my favorite is Zywiec lager. Tyskie Gronie is also usually in my fridge.
     
    Crusader likes this.
  32. pbrian

    pbrian Defender (637) Feb 8, 2001 Connecticut

    I'll put my vote down for Bitburger, the quality to price ratio beats all others. And also, because of that, it seems to sell quite well around here so stock rotates well.

    And of course PU (add freshness disclaimer here) and somehow a twelve pack of St Paulie Girl makes it home with me a couple times a year.
     
    Redrover likes this.
  33. marquis

    marquis Crusader (764) Nov 20, 2005 United Kingdom (England)

    Without looking it up, I seem to remember that Stella Artois is much older than Kronenbourg,going all the way back to 1926 :slight_smile:
     
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  34. RochefortChris

    RochefortChris Meyvn (1,314) Oct 2, 2012 North Carolina
    Society

    Hackar-Pschoor Munich Gold is tops on the list for me as is their oktoberfest. As for lagers lesser known, my heart lies with Andechs dopplebock and Schlenkarla smoked marzen
     
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  35. zid

    zid Savant (971) Feb 15, 2010 New York
    Trader

    Get your heart medication because I heard that's not being brought to the US anymore. I don't know how much truth there is to that, but it's now nowhere to be found in my area.
     
  36. FBarber

    FBarber Poo-Bah (2,654) Mar 5, 2016 Illinois
    Society Trader

    I still see it around here, but that doesn't mean you're wrong. Just to be safe Ill probably pick some up next time I see it.
     
  37. Prince_Casual

    Prince_Casual Disciple (305) Nov 3, 2012 District of Columbia
    Trader

    If you are indeed referring to European Pale Lager, there really isn't any better or worse, there's just more expensive (more advertising). In a style where skunking is permitted, and the minimum of flavor / "less filling" is the goal, whatever beer you can get the coldest is going to taste the best.

    @EmperorBatman if you are indeed in DC, keep an eye out for "Hollandia" in the liquor stoes who have good prices- I've seen 12pks as low as $5.99, bury that in a cooler of ice and enjoy. I said this in another thread but I am blown away at how expensive Heineken is now. It's a pretty poorly made beer but the amount of idiotic advertising that is baked into the price, might make that the worst beer in the world. This Hollandia is basically the same thing, and is 1/4 of the price.
     
    EmperorBatman likes this.
  38. jesskidden

    jesskidden Meyvn (1,415) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey

    Yeah, I, too, still see it around. In many cases, the very same bottles - probably 2 years old or more.

    Andechs has two different US importers (uncommon these days, but not unheard of).
    :astonished: According to whom?
     
    #38 jesskidden, Mar 14, 2019
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2019
  39. RochefortChris

    RochefortChris Meyvn (1,314) Oct 2, 2012 North Carolina
    Society

    Say it isn't so! I'm going to buy some up this weekend
     
  40. steveh

    steveh Poo-Bah (2,159) Oct 8, 2003 Illinois

    Hmm? I don't think skunking is never not a fault.