Great Lakes: One of the best lager brewers in U.S.? Yes or No

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by ZAP, Oct 19, 2013.

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  1. goldenM13

    goldenM13 Initiate (0) Feb 24, 2013 Massachusetts

    Jacks Abby is the best when it comes to lagers but great lakes is damn good too.
  2. herrburgess

    herrburgess Meyvn (1,039) Nov 4, 2009 South Carolina
    Industry Beer Trader

    Have you had any of the Olde Meck beers (being from NC and all)? I'd be interested to hear how you feel Jack's Abby compares.
  3. nc41

    nc41 Poo-Bah (1,510) Sep 25, 2008 North Carolina
    Beer Trader

    I've only had Old Mech and it was good stuff, love to do a JA comparison.
  4. beercanman

    beercanman Initiate (0) Dec 17, 2012 Ohio

    I'd put em in the top 50
  5. Chinon01

    Chinon01 Initiate (0) Jan 23, 2007 Pennsylvania

    I'd have to say no. They do some nice things but where is their notable Pilsner or Hefeweizen or Munich Helles?
    dungledauf likes this.
  6. steveh

    steveh Poo-Bah (1,997) Oct 8, 2003 Illinois

    Well, to be fair to the OP, it asked for Lager breweries, not German-style breweries.
  7. Ptomaine

    Ptomaine Initiate (0) Sep 20, 2012 Kentucky

    Definitely yes, and for cost and quality, they are hard to beat.
    dungledauf likes this.
  8. rabbitguy

    rabbitguy Initiate (0) Jun 18, 2009 Illinois

    I enjoy their Dortmunder Gold and Eliot Ness .
    dungledauf likes this.
  9. herrburgess

    herrburgess Meyvn (1,039) Nov 4, 2009 South Carolina
    Industry Beer Trader

    I wonder how they worked that? I have done lots of calculations on my beer recipe calculation software and have never been able to "get the numbers" to work for a Classic Rauchbier style using 100% Weyermann Rauchmalz. Would love to know how they did this.
  10. ThirstyFace

    ThirstyFace Initiate (0) Jan 11, 2013 New York

    Yep, one of the better lager producers. A stride behind Victory.
  11. TongoRad

    TongoRad Poo-Bah (2,282) Jun 3, 2004 New Jersey
    Premium Member Beer Trader

    It actually might not be 100%. Looking again at this post:
    it seems to have been more of an assumption by JackHorzempa (notice the question mark) which I misremembered. Sly Fox's website is also short on details.

    What is the issue with going 100%, anyway? Does it not have enough diastatic power to convert?
  12. herrburgess

    herrburgess Meyvn (1,039) Nov 4, 2009 South Carolina
    Industry Beer Trader

    Yea, that seems to be the issue.
  13. Donbeerlvr

    Donbeerlvr Initiate (124) Dec 21, 2008 Pennsylvania

  14. hopfenunmaltz

    hopfenunmaltz Meyvn (1,337) Jun 8, 2005 Michigan

    Scott, Midwest has it at 48 Lintner, which should be enough to convert. Getting the color and residual body and sweetness might be more of an issue.
  15. CraftFan5

    CraftFan5 Crusader (741) May 14, 2013 New Jersey
    Beer Trader

    I think Eliot Ness is the best lager I've ever had, so, yes.
  16. pathman

    pathman Crusader (772) May 25, 2011 Ohio
    Beer Trader

    Yes---in top 5%, but not #1

    New Glarus is one brewery that I would place ahead of GLBC
    bound4er likes this.
  17. steveh

    steveh Poo-Bah (1,997) Oct 8, 2003 Illinois

    No troll, no instigation, only curious -- but what do you base your opinion on?
  18. Crusader

    Crusader Aspirant (207) Feb 4, 2011 Sweden

    Does the lower number, and lower diastatic power, mean that the finished beer will have a higher residual sweetness than it would have if the mash contained a base malt with a higher diastatic power? I'm interested in this since having read about the history of beer in Sweden, malt was per definition smoked before the introduction of new kilns and kilning techniques and the lager beer styles in the mid 1800s. If smoked malt has a lower diastatic power, and typically leaves a higher residual sugar content, that might go some way towards explaining the tradition of Swedish beers being sweeter, and Swedish beer drinkers prefering sweeter beers, once lager beer is introduced.

    Then again, the malt you are talking about, the Weyermann, might be ahistorical in its level of smokiness, enabled by the use of more "modern" base malts?
  19. Domingo

    Domingo Poo-Bah (2,149) Apr 23, 2005 Colorado
    Beer Trader

    Eliott Ness is a good beer even if it isn't necessarily traditional or authentic. I'd toss it in the same grouping as beers like Anchor Lager and CC's Hotter Than Helles. A good random "American" lager.
    steveh and herrburgess like this.
  20. steveh

    steveh Poo-Bah (1,997) Oct 8, 2003 Illinois

    The new California Lager, or the Steam Beer?

    I was thinking about those 2 beers last week when I had the California Lager and how they don't fit the profile of most lagers; estery, distinct hop bitterness, but one has defined a style and the other doesn't claim to be any established style.

    And yeah, "good random 'American' lager" leads back to the whole "Americanized" theme.
  21. Domingo

    Domingo Poo-Bah (2,149) Apr 23, 2005 Colorado
    Beer Trader

    It's the California Lager. I imagine it would probably appeal to pale ale drinkers as much if not more than fans of central European lagers. I felt the same way about FW's Pivo Pils, although I think that won gold for German Pils at GABF. Either way, that beer is excellent.

    I'm starting to see more American breweries tinkering with lagers and honestly, I'd rather they plotted their own course rather than emulating the Germans, Czechs, and Austrians. There will always be a place for the Old Mecks, Prosts, and Victorys, but if you're going to Americanize something - go all out. At the same time, make sure it's good, too. :stuck_out_tongue:
    JackHorzempa likes this.
  22. hopfenunmaltz

    hopfenunmaltz Meyvn (1,337) Jun 8, 2005 Michigan

    That is enough to convert starches to sugars. Higher kiln temperatures result in more Maillard reactions that give a malty flavor and malty does not equal sweet. Think of malty Oktoberfest bier or some Dunkels that finish dry. Mash profiles are one way to make a beer either dry or sweet. Yeast apparent attenuation is another.
    Crusader likes this.
  23. steveh

    steveh Poo-Bah (1,997) Oct 8, 2003 Illinois

    I'd agree with that, it's different without being so over the top that it becomes some oddity.

    And it's telling that one of the oldest micros has done such a good job of this.

    Oh, and let's also not forget that the California Lager is only 4.9% -- big, complex flavor in a low octane beer.
  24. LCB_Hostage

    LCB_Hostage Initiate (0) Jan 30, 2013 Pennsylvania

    Absolutely, yes!

    BTW, I had to laugh when I read your post. Not sure it really "withholds" your personal opinion. My advice, don't play poker with that face. Then again, I might be 100% wrong and you actually hate GL lagers, in which case, please don't ever play poker with ME. I have a feeling I wouldn't be able to afford the experience. :wink:
  25. CassinoNorth

    CassinoNorth Disciple (304) Apr 5, 2013 New Jersey
    Beer Trader

    Founders doesn't make a single mass produced lager, so they lose this argument.
    victory4me and jcos like this.
  26. herrburgess

    herrburgess Meyvn (1,039) Nov 4, 2009 South Carolina
    Industry Beer Trader

    I should have said that within the constraints of our processes (primary among them for this conversation being that we aim for 65% efficiency) I can't get the numbers to work. Even at 75% efficiency I'm at the extreme bottom of the acceptable range for OG.
  27. Potatocrawler

    Potatocrawler Initiate (0) Jun 12, 2013 Pennsylvania

    They release a pilsner in July.
  28. AlcahueteJ

    AlcahueteJ Defender (686) Dec 4, 2004 Massachusetts

    I'll agree to this as long as you're referring to simply over-hopping the beer, or producing gimmicky high octane brews. If this is what "Americanizing" is, then I want no part of it.

    Now, if you're referring to something such as California Lager, I'm all for it.
    TongoRad and steveh like this.
  29. AlcahueteJ

    AlcahueteJ Defender (686) Dec 4, 2004 Massachusetts

    It's a shame BAs the likes of steveh, herrburrgess...etc. do not have access to Jack's Abby. I'm inclined to say that would not agree with this statement. Personally I don't think they're even in the top tier (admittedly I have not had Great Lakes or New Glarus for comparison, but they're not better than Troegs for example).

    When your highest rated beers are your IPL, double IPLs, and other high alcohol beers....well that's not what I think of when I think "lager." Anything lower in abv from them that I've had has shown their flaws.

    And please don't read into this and think I'm a Jack's Abby hater. I've had some good things from them, and appreciate their creativity with some of their beers. But I can't call them the best lager brewery in the country. After tasting a fresh Andrechs Vollbier Hell the other night, one of my thoughts was, "No American brewery that I've sampled so far can make a basic clean lager as well as this." And this includes Jack's Abby.
  30. Domingo

    Domingo Poo-Bah (2,149) Apr 23, 2005 Colorado
    Beer Trader

    I certainly don’t want Peach/Mango/Melon pilsners, but there’s no reason American brewers can’t put their own spin on lagers without emulating the old world. For American lagers, I love Firestone Walker’s Pivo. California Lager is pretty solid, too. They’re not super well known, but Ft. Collins Brewery’s 1900 is another one I really like. Colorado Native from AC Golden is certainly a little outside the box and delicious. Hell, Sam Adams and Brooklyn lager are both different from 99% of the beers I’ve encountered in Germany. The Full Sail LTB beers are good ideas even if I don’t care for the execution.
    steveh likes this.
  31. AlcahueteJ

    AlcahueteJ Defender (686) Dec 4, 2004 Massachusetts

    Funny you mentioned Boston Lager, I almost said, "Now if you're referring to something such as California Lager and Boston Lager...."

    From everything I've read (I haven't had an authentic Vienna Lager) Boston Lager is certainly not authentic. But it's not insanely hoppy or boozy, and is a solid, well-made 4.9% lager that I still enjoy to this day.

    The tickers and uber-beer geeks certainly won't care for Boston Lager, but they're a special kind of beer advocate.
  32. zillo043068

    zillo043068 Aspirant (267) Jan 8, 2011 New Jersey

    Very nice beers, yes is my vote !
  33. herrburgess

    herrburgess Meyvn (1,039) Nov 4, 2009 South Carolina
    Industry Beer Trader

    I'm actually all for that, too. What I dislike is when I'm told that an Americanized lager is "authentic German/Czech" style when it clearly is not. All I ask is that you just tell me accurately what you're serving, so I can decide in full knowledge whether or not to spend the (on average) $10 for a 6-pack.
    steveh likes this.
  34. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (3,378) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Premium Member

    Firestone Walker Pivo did indeed win the Gold Medal at the GABF for German-style Pilsner (and Troegs Sunshine Pils won the Bronze Medal for that category).

    Needless to say but the GABF judges certainly considered Firestone Walker Pivo to be an “authentic” German Pilsner.

  35. herrburgess

    herrburgess Meyvn (1,039) Nov 4, 2009 South Carolina
    Industry Beer Trader

    Interesting, since I heard directly from one of the brewers that they admit to taking some pretty distinct liberties with the style.
  36. Domingo

    Domingo Poo-Bah (2,149) Apr 23, 2005 Colorado
    Beer Trader

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  37. herrburgess

    herrburgess Meyvn (1,039) Nov 4, 2009 South Carolina
    Industry Beer Trader

  38. AlcahueteJ

    AlcahueteJ Defender (686) Dec 4, 2004 Massachusetts

    “Pivo Hoppy Pils is a brewer’s beer,” Brynildson says. “At the big beer events, after all the hoopla is over, it is typical for a few of us brewmasters to meet afterward at some bar down the street, and we all order pilsner beers to clean the palate. It’s like a razor that scrapes all the double IPAs off our tongues.”

    He adds, “Pilsner is one of the most difficult beers to perfect. It seems so simple and commonplace in the world. It’s so light, yet it incorporates so much, which is why any off flavor just comes screaming out. It’s this naked beer that doesn’t hide anything.”

    I love this quotation from the article. I remember when I first read the article and was bothered by the hop cone on the label, the term "hoppy pilsner" and then this part, "a classically rendered pilsner with a West Coast dry-hopping twist." But the quotation above makes me more confident that Firestone Walker "gets it" and isn't simply churning out another hop monster of a lager. I've been eager to try this beer and still haven't seen it in Boston.

    This is extremely nit-picky, but assuming it's good, the only thing that would bother me is the abv is SLIGHTLY more than I prefer in my pils at 5.3% abv. That's what I love about Sunshine Pils, at 4.5% it's that much more sessionable.
  39. Chiefy770

    Chiefy770 Devotee (426) Aug 20, 2011 Illinois

    I would say they are definitely at the top. It's hard to crown one brewery as the "best"... too many good ones to chose from, a problem I don't mind having.
  40. joelwlcx

    joelwlcx Initiate (198) Apr 23, 2007 Minnesota

    I do like their Dortmunder
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