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

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

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  1. BigBarley

    BigBarley Initiate (0) Aug 5, 2011 Texas

    I see a lot of people posting who seem to think the craft beer world should be divided into lager drinkers and ale drinkers. I also see a lot of people posting who seem to think that lagers are by default flavorless and weak, whereas ale is by default flavorful and asskicking.

    So, uh... what's the deal? If you like beer, why not embrace the unlimited possibilities on both ends? There are no real limits to the potential of flavor in beer out there, there are lagers for anyone and ales for anyone. It's bad enough that people won't let each other have opinions on specific beers without telling each other how wrong their impressions are, now we have beer snobs telling other beer snobs that pilsner is just pussy pale ale.

    Screw all that, taste should be subjective, and limiting yourself based on whether something is top fermenting or bottom fermenting seems to be taking beer snobbery to a ridiculous, cartoony level. When did the rift between ale and lager begin? I liked it better when it was real beer vs. mass-marketed offensive swill. Isn't the point of this kinda site to educate, rather than bitch each other out for having differing tastes?

    Pardon me folks, I've gotta pour an export ale and a schwarzbier into the same glass and congratulate myself on being a genius.
  2. Gutes_Bier

    Gutes_Bier Disciple (348) Jul 31, 2011 Germany

    This is exactly why we should all be drinking more Alts!


  3. DubbelTrubbel

    DubbelTrubbel Initiate (0) Nov 19, 2012 Georgia

    New Glarus Two Women will convert you.
  4. BlackDragon

    BlackDragon Initiate (0) Feb 16, 2013 Michigan

    Your forgetting almost all the mass market swill your talking about is almost exclusively lagers and I don't know about ass kicking but I've never had a lager that had as much flavor as an ale.
    dachshunddude86 likes this.
  5. Ri0

    Ri0 Poo-Bah (2,776) Jul 1, 2012 Wisconsin

    Not to mention Victory Prima Pils and NG Hometown Blonde.
    cnbrown313, mecummins and wiscokid920 like this.
  6. BigBarley

    BigBarley Initiate (0) Aug 5, 2011 Texas

    Cool beans, yo. But my point was, if you just assume that all lagers are flavorless and boring, you'll miss out on a lot. Why limit yourself based on something as simple as 'ale or lager?'

    And yeah, the mass-produced swill I was referring to is lager. The difference being that the adjuncts are there to lighten the flavor. Lagers that are brewed for flavor tend to have flavor. Dopplebocks and imperial pilsners can attest to that.

    And again, taste is subjective, so if you don't like lager that's fine, but just cause a beer is a lager doesn't mean it should be written off as flavorless.

    I dunno, just wanted to see who had what to say.
  7. TongoRad

    TongoRad Poo-Bah (2,888) Jun 3, 2004 New Jersey
    Society Trader

    They all do get along- in my fridge!

    Just who is saying these things, anyway. And, more importantly- who is taking them seriously?
  8. larryi86

    larryi86 Poo-Bah (4,637) Apr 4, 2010 Delaware
    Society Trader

    I know for my a stayed away from lagers and drank only ales when I started drinking craft beer because I thought all lagers were like mass marketed beers. Once I had a few German lagers and a few good American German-style lagers I learned that lager can be just as flavorful and asskicking as ales. Personally I would love to see more breweries making more lagers!
  9. BlackDragon

    BlackDragon Initiate (0) Feb 16, 2013 Michigan

    I'd love to try lagers that are like RIS if you know of any let me know.
  10. Domingo

    Domingo Poo-Bah (2,715) Apr 23, 2005 Colorado

    I never quite understood this either. I still find it amusing that the same people that love to claim they can taste 200 nuanced differences in very similar IPA's seem to think most lagers "taste like a better version of Bud." Some of it probably ties back to Heineken and Beck's showing up less than ideal in green glass, but too often that isn't even to blame. Maybe it's people wanting to recklessly rebel from the pale lagers that dominate our market?
    Personally, I love both equally. For every helles or doppelbock I drink, there's an IPA, amber ale, or big stout I enjoy just as much.
  11. waltmink88

    waltmink88 Initiate (0) Feb 17, 2013

    Jack's Abbey. 'nuf said.
  12. Domingo

    Domingo Poo-Bah (2,715) Apr 23, 2005 Colorado

    Baltic Porter seems like the easy answer here. They're like cousins. Some are ales, but in spite of the name "porter" most are lagers.
    Doppelbocks might also speak to you as well.
    joelwlcx, JxExM, SnowFlowMfg and 8 others like this.
  13. jesskidden

    jesskidden Poo-Bah (2,193) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey
    Society Trader

    So, any lager v. any ale?

    Why not have a bottle of Samichlaus and then follow it with a local "middle-of-the-road" brewery's pale or cream ale?
    Sarlacc83, Tut, tronester and 9 others like this.
  14. BigBarley

    BigBarley Initiate (0) Aug 5, 2011 Texas

    Well, if all you want is beer that tastes like RIS, only drink RIS. If you want everything to taste the same, cool. But a lot of craft beer enthusiasts do it for the differences available. Just cause a beer has a lighter mouthfeel does not mean it can't have the same depth or be as unique as something thicker. And vice versa, just cause a beer is thick, hearty, and full of alcohol, doesn't mean it will always hit the right spot at the right time.
    I feel like being a craft beer enthusiast is about avoiding fox-holing yourself and trying to explore subtle differences. All different beer is unique, and it's each new, unique experience with beer that can keep the passion alive.

    If I didn't have that passion for exploration, then trust me, I'd stock up on Old Rasputin, Oak Aged Yeti and Ruination and say screw the discovery!
    Tut, tronester, baconman91 and 3 others like this.
  15. fmccormi

    fmccormi Initiate (0) Oct 24, 2010 California

    Jack's Abby, man. Jack's. Fucking. Abby.

    I have a pretty serious hops habit, and Hoponious Union kicked the shit out of at least 95% of (D)IPAs I've had in the last few years. Go out and getcha some.
  16. Dtapeski

    Dtapeski Initiate (46) Oct 26, 2012 Colorado

    So this seems like a good time to ask for some widely distributed lager recommendations. I will admit that beyond Odell's Double Pilsner and Uinta Tilted Smile, I've tended to stay away from lagers except when its burning hot out and then will have a Mama's Little Yellow Pils.
    Thanks for suggestions.
    JxExM likes this.
  17. BigBarley

    BigBarley Initiate (0) Aug 5, 2011 Texas

    Well, if you look at the forums around here, there are a lot of folks writing off lagers as some sorta craft beer of shame, and there's a lot of bias towards the idea of a lighter-bodied beer. It just seems silly that just because ale is more extreme on average, that lagers can take a backseat. Personally, I think lagers are awesome in the summer or right after a hard night of work, because they drink a little easier and have more refreshing qualities. A nice pilsner can be just as rewarding as any IPA when you're sweaty, sore and hot.
    JxExM and Tut like this.
  18. BigBarley

    BigBarley Initiate (0) Aug 5, 2011 Texas

    Pilsner Urquell, easy
    Shankopotamus and fmccormi like this.
  19. Horseballs

    Horseballs Initiate (0) Feb 7, 2012 Ohio

    The style is called Baltic porter. You should try one some time. Unless it is considered mass-market swill because of the yeast used.
  20. steveh

    steveh Poo-Bah (2,938) Oct 8, 2003 Illinois

    You're drinking the wrong lagers.

    Not to mention that I've had plenty insipid and bland top-fermented beers in the past, the pendulum swings both ways -- I'm on the same page as the O.P.

    Too much good beer out there to single out via ignorance.
    JxExM likes this.
  21. OregonGrown7

    OregonGrown7 Zealot (579) Nov 2, 2012 Oregon

    Though I am a noob compared to probably most of you, I made the decision a couple years ago that I would buy something new every time I got beer. I've had just over 300 different beers of every style I could possibly find in my area. The range of flavors and textures has really amazed me! That being said, I can understand why you'd shy away from lagers. There are so many cheap ones that give lagers a bad name, and the stigma is carried on by the bud, macro thing. Now that being said, there has been a handful of lagers that have blown me away, German and czech ones.
    RochefortChris and Mediczod like this.
  22. steveh

    steveh Poo-Bah (2,938) Oct 8, 2003 Illinois

    It's not about comparing and trying to say what one style is better than another, it's understanding how all styles are different and good in their own ways. If you like RIS simply because it knocks you over with big flavor and alcohol, you're discounting all the more mellow, lighter and smoother beers you could be enjoying -- once you understand that their goodness is just as good, only different.
    JxExM, Tut, drtth and 2 others like this.
  23. steveh

    steveh Poo-Bah (2,938) Oct 8, 2003 Illinois

    How about Oktoberfests and Doppelbocks? It's nearing Maibock season too. And let's not rule out a good Schwarzbier -- in sticking to just bigger and bolder lagers.
    JxExM, fuzzylogic and BBThunderbolt like this.
  24. Genuine

    Genuine Devotee (453) May 7, 2009 Connecticut

    I happen to like the flavors in ales a bit more than lagers. I will embrace a cold SN Summerfest in the Summer and a solid Octoberfest come fall time. Otherwise, it's IPA's and Pale Ales that get my attention the most Spring-Fall (not including pumpkin ales and other seasonals. Winter for me is a lot of barleywines, stouts and old ales.
    baconman91 likes this.
  25. TheGoldsmith

    TheGoldsmith Initiate (0) Jan 20, 2013 Missouri

    I stayed away from lagers for a long time. Odell's Double Pilsner was an eye opener for me. So was my first dopplebock, which was Wolfgang from Great Divide. I'd suggest that one, and ask for more suggestions as well. I'm still not well-educated on lagers.
  26. BlackDragon

    BlackDragon Initiate (0) Feb 16, 2013 Michigan

    I've had arcadia ales shipwreck baltic porter and like it but I don't know if this one is an ale or a lager since I've been told they can be either.
  27. alucard6679

    alucard6679 Initiate (0) Jul 29, 2012 Arizona

    I do really enjoy the occasional doppelbock (usually aventinus or celebrator) but at the moment I just happen to prefer things like stouts, barleywines, or ipas. That's just me though, and I'm not one to trash-talk an entire style. Too each their own : )
    baconman91 and dianimal like this.
  28. wiscokid920

    wiscokid920 Initiate (0) Apr 27, 2011 Wisconsin

    The OP hit it right on the tee. Surely, people have a style they prefer over others but, what's most important is to judge a beer based on the context of it's particular style.
  29. EdTheEdge

    EdTheEdge Initiate (0) Mar 26, 2011 California

    I shunned Lagers until this came along:

  30. Vonstein15

    Vonstein15 Initiate (0) Jan 15, 2010 Ohio

    Lagers are the comfort food of the beer world,not always going to wow you but it will bring a smile to your face and sometimes an Ahh moment,don't try to understand why,just enjoy. Simple ales are the comfort of the ale world,such as Bass ale,we only sometimes assume that ales are the most flavorful.The frig should be full of both esp. heading into spring and summer seasons.Cheers the England world of fine ales.Hail to the lager world that will always kickass.
    boddhitree likes this.
  31. kingofhop

    kingofhop Initiate (0) May 9, 2010 Oklahoma

    This is how they get us. They divide us into ales and lagers, and then they conquer us.
    Lurkerson, brewsader, JxExM and 6 others like this.
  32. darky

    darky Initiate (0) Apr 16, 2010 South Dakota

    Whether or not a beer is a lager or ale doesn't matter in the least to me. Have 100 people try something like a Schell's Emerald Rye blindfolded and see if they correctly determine whether it's an ale or a lager. I'd bet it'd be a near 50/50 split.

    The sheer quantity of excellent craft pilseners is reason enough to throw belonging to one camp or the other out the window.
  33. fmccormi

    fmccormi Initiate (0) Oct 24, 2010 California

    Where's herrburgess in this conversation? Did he just black out from rage from that last lager thread? Dude's always got good suggestions and insight on lagers.
    fritts211, afrokaze and herrburgess like this.
  34. VegasBeerMan

    VegasBeerMan Initiate (0) Jul 28, 2007 Nevada

    I just find it interesting that the OP states his desire to see lagers and ales equally appreciated...and that we should end the debate and simply enjoy both...let's all just get along.

    And with that, CREATES and participates in a debate on the subject with clear lager-defensive comments.

    I too congratulate you on your genius. You got exactly what you were really wanted.
  35. herrburgess

    herrburgess Meyvn (1,123) Nov 4, 2009 South Carolina

    Lagers and ales get along just fine in my fridge, kegerator, carboys, and favorite breweries. What's more, my all-time favorite beer, Schlenkerla Maerzen, packs as much unique (and big) flavor as any of my favorite (D)IPAs. But it's not that punch of pungent smoke that makes Schlenkerla my favorite beer, it's the combination of the smoke with the underlying toffee, treacly Maerzen character, which really shines after #3 (or 4 or 5) in a single sitting. And that, for me, is the beauty of lagers: while they can be hugely flavorful, they have a rounded, refined and subtle fullness of flavor that makes settling in with them so, so easy -- and rewarding.

    I think one of the reasons for the love of hops here in the U.S. craft scene (proof that BAs don't hate lagers, but rather really love citrus/fruity hops, can be seen in the major love for Jack's Abby), is that geography too often prevents us from getting the freshest beer possible, and an abundance of hops helps "preserve" a sense of freshness. A lot of BAs have caught on to this, as they now go to great lengths -- and even travel long distances -- to obtain (D)IPAs at their freshest. German geography means that people are pretty much assured of getting the freshest beer possible -- which is just as essential for lagers as it is for (D)IPAs.

    Maybe people realizing that traveling to get the freshest (D)IPAs is hugely rewarding will also realize that doing the same for the world's great lagers is equally rewarding. And maybe when they sit down with 3 or 4 of them in a row, they'll forget for a while about ticking and finally settle in with the style -- and the fact that the world's traditional brewing nations have worlds of flavor to explore and appreciate.
  36. ESHBG

    ESHBG Disciple (334) Jul 30, 2011 Pennsylvania

    I think a lot of it has to come down to A) many craft breweries don't brew Lagers so you don't see as many of them B) for the ones that do, are there REALLY that much differences between them (or maybe more accurately, perceived to be between them)? C) palates change over time. I love Lagers, they will forever have a special place in my heart and in the past I would grab a Lager over an Ale about 80% of the time. But lately, many that I loved have lost some of their "oomph" to me so I gravitate towards other things a little more often than I used to.

    But BOTH Lagers and Ales seem to have a spot in my fridge at any given time. :wink:
  37. Sneers

    Sneers Initiate (0) Dec 27, 2009 Pennsylvania

    It often seems to be the case that the line between ale and lager gets drawn at some hypothetical boundary between boldness of flavor. Generally the logic seems to go something like "the boldest beers out there are ales, I want bold beer, therefore I drink ales." It's an easy path to take when much of the impetus in getting into good beer is drinking beer that's more robust; I know I did. This logic is of course flawed in reality given the existence of some Baltic porters and doppelbocks on one hand, and some pale ales and dry stouts on the other. If boldness of flavor is the criteria for goodness, then one ought to be drinking a mix of ales and lagers, and neglecting different mix of ales and lagers.

    But I think even that misses the real point. Plenty of people offer up bold examples of lagers to justify the merits of the lager in general to those that shun them. I know I don't drink lagers because those examples exist, and, indeed, most lagers aren't that extreme, nor do I think lagers should have to be extreme to gain popularity (eg. the irksome imperial Pilsner). Well-made lagers do, however, offer a different kind of flavor many ales just don't, and I think this is the point that is most important. The clean, bready malt flavor of a Märzen or the aroma of noble hops in a Helles just aren't qualities you get in most ales. It'd be a shame to miss out on them just because they're often not remarkably intense, because intensity isn't what it's about.
    Etan, luwak and herrburgess like this.
  38. Dan114

    Dan114 Initiate (0) Feb 14, 2013 Massachusetts

    I love beer.
    mp19, LuckyJohn and dianimal like this.
  39. herrburgess

    herrburgess Meyvn (1,123) Nov 4, 2009 South Carolina

    Me too.
  40. DrStiffington

    DrStiffington Meyvn (1,148) Oct 27, 2010 New Jersey

    I like plenty of lagers/pilsners. Prima Pils, Noble Pils, My Antonia, SA IPL, etc.
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