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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. JuliusCaesar

    JuliusCaesar Initiate (0) Feb 18, 2013 New Hampshire

    Bock beers are full of flavor
  2. victory4me

    victory4me Zealot (547) Oct 16, 2004 Pennsylvania

    "There's something kind of sad about the way that things have come to be. Desensitized to everything, what became of subtlety?"
  3. ESHBG

    ESHBG Aspirant (226) Jul 30, 2011 Pennsylvania

    And that is the trick right there! If nothing else, Lagers should be embraced and preserved for the unique flavor profiles they can provide that you simply won't find in an Ale at this point in time.
    I do secretly wonder what it would be like to brew an Ale with Noble Hops and what not, though. :sunglasses:

    Tool rules! :grinning:
    BigBarley and victory4me like this.
  4. MostlyNorwegian

    MostlyNorwegian Zealot (510) Feb 5, 2013 Illinois

    Good beer is good beer. Don't be a douche.
    BigBarley likes this.
  5. Stahlsturm

    Stahlsturm Initiate (0) Mar 21, 2005 Germany

    The proper term for this style is "Märzen". I know your keyboard is umlaut challenged but that's no excuse to not use proper terminology :slight_smile:
    Tut likes this.
  6. Stahlsturm

    Stahlsturm Initiate (0) Mar 21, 2005 Germany

    That's an alien concept for many people on here. They drink one bottle, write a review and hurry on in their hunt for scene points. Sad but true.
    Zhiguli, VonZipper and herrburgess like this.
  7. steveh

    steveh Poo-Bah (1,964) Oct 8, 2003 Illinois

    Not necessarily, I subscribe to the separation of styles based on long history -- after all, at one time all beer had a März season.

    And no, my keyboard is not punctuation challenged -- after all, I'm on a Mac -- Umlaüts, Scharfeß S', all kinds'a fancy stuff no one understands. :wink:
    fmccormi likes this.
  8. woosterbill

    woosterbill Poo-Bah (2,616) Apr 6, 2009 Kentucky
    Beer Trader

    It's been done, and perfected: New England Brewing Co. Gold Stock Ale.

    Drink it. It's good.
  9. DmanGTR

    DmanGTR Meyvn (1,143) Feb 19, 2008 New York
    Beer Trader

    That's supposed to be: "Wot's, uh, the deal?"
    BlackBelt5112203, LMT and BigBarley like this.
  10. Bonis

    Bonis Defender (630) Jul 28, 2010 Ohio

    The bottom line is that if you look at the complete landscape of beer, ales are much more tasty than lagers, beer for beer. Give me the best lager out there and the best ale out there, they might be close. Give me 100 ales and 100 lagers, I guarantee my 100 favorites out of those will be at least 80% ales. There just arent enough good lagers out there to compete with the best ales. And if we are looking at styles, the only lager style that competes with my favorite ale styles is the doppelbock, and a good doppelbock doesn't really touch a good IPA/IIPA/black IPA, imperial stout, or barleywine for me. The possibilities are so endless with an ale, even within the styles I just mentioned. Americans are really pushing the boundaries for craft ales, and I love it. Sure we are brewing some decent lagers too, but most will go unnoticed due to that "flavorless and boring" perception you mention.

    Let's just face it, if there are two beers sitting on the shelf, one is labeled "Lager" and the other one "Ale".. who is seriously going to grab the lager? I know there are some good lagers out there, but I'm picking ale over lager pretty much every time.
  11. ThickNStout

    ThickNStout Poo-Bah (2,091) Mar 8, 2011 Georgia
    Subscriber Beer Trader

    Nice quote!
    How could this mean anything to me, when I really don't (taste) a thing at all?
    victory4me likes this.
  12. ThickNStout

    ThickNStout Poo-Bah (2,091) Mar 8, 2011 Georgia
    Subscriber Beer Trader

    Go out and get a Schmaltz Barrel aged Blockhead. THEN come back and try to honestly tell us that lagers can't be huge, robust flavor bombs.
  13. evilcatfish

    evilcatfish Defender (622) May 11, 2012 Missouri
    Beer Trader

    I had a Surly Smoke the other day, I'd say that one is far from a tasteless lager...
  14. hopfenunmaltz

    hopfenunmaltz Meyvn (1,305) Jun 8, 2005 Michigan

    One can tell who brews in this thread, and who does not.

    You can make a very flavorful beer with a lager yeast strain. Baltic porters have been mentioned. Thomas Hardy Ale was reported to have been made with a lager strain.
    herrburgess likes this.
  15. steveh

    steveh Poo-Bah (1,964) Oct 8, 2003 Illinois

    Ah ha -- I see clearly now, opinion.
    And... what if the ale is Boddington's in the nitro can and the lager is Ayinger Jahrhundert? I know which one I'm choosing.
    Tut likes this.
  16. LambicPentameter

    LambicPentameter Meyvn (1,471) Aug 29, 2012 Michigan
    Beer Trader

    I have nothing at all against lagers that don't have the word "adjunct" in front of them. I discovered and really got into the Double/Imperial Pils style a couple years ago (2010?) when Boulevard released a one-time brew in collaboration with Jean-Marie Rock of Orval called Collaboration #1. I've made a point to get my hands on the style whenever possible since then.

    You will also find me quite happy with a good bock, doppelbock or dunkel. However, it's no coincidence that my favorite lager beers are either dark, or higher gravity, because in my personal experience, I haven't found the range and variety and depth of flavor to be as pronounced with lagers as with ales.

    So I'll certainly agree that this "lagers suck--ales are the shit!" attitude is ridiculous, but I can at least see the roots of that mindset. Most of the beers I've had throughout my life that struck me as simply amazing indeed happened to be ales, and I can understand how some people might generalize that to mean that lagers just aren't as good. Unfortunate as it may be.
  17. LambicPentameter

    LambicPentameter Meyvn (1,471) Aug 29, 2012 Michigan
    Beer Trader

    This is pretty close to how I feel. There are some great lagers, but if I'm blindly picking between an ale and a lager, with zero detail or information on the type of ale/lager, I'm probably going to take the ale.

    Maybe that's because the sheer ratio of crappy "adjunct" lagers means that there is simply more chance that I'll get a crappy lager than a crappy ale, but I have a feeling there are some pretty uninspired ales out there.

    Plus, I have to be honest: my palate has a harder time distinguishing between two different lagers (same style) than it does between two different ales (same style).
  18. Domingo

    Domingo Poo-Bah (2,233) Apr 23, 2005 Colorado
    Subscriber Beer Trader

    Some of my favorite lagers aren’t necessarily subtle or a flavor assault. For instance, Mahr’s Hell (occasionally available as an import from Shelton Bros.) has a old malt profile that is pretty tough to match, but it’s still relatively low in ABV without being overly sweet, too.
    steveh likes this.
  19. hopfenunmaltz

    hopfenunmaltz Meyvn (1,305) Jun 8, 2005 Michigan

    Bells is working on more lagers, to use the old cypress open vats that they got from the Stroh family. Why would they be going through pilot brews and serving to customers in the pub? Some of you might be surprised what some well known brewers would have to say about lagers.

    See lower left.
  20. Highbrow

    Highbrow Devotee (461) Jan 7, 2011 California
    Beer Trader

    i'm thinking about commercially marketing this new product - it's revolutionary, 100% natural & is the cure-all, end-all. it's called *IGNORE*. best part, you can whip up an unlimited supply right in your home. sprinkle in a few drops of some *who gives a (censor beep) about trivial viewpoints of others* & you'll be well on your way to becoming the Dalai Lama of all things beer. :grimacing:
  21. WickedSluggy

    WickedSluggy Devotee (400) Nov 21, 2008 Texas
    Beer Trader

    The only lagers that are flavorless and boring are those that are brewed specifically to be flavorless and boring. There are certainly many of those, especially in the US. However, ales brewed with the same flavorless boring grain and hop bills are also typically flavorless and boring by your standards. The funny thing is: the beers you seem to like, American IPA/IIPA and American Barleywine typically have "cleaner" flavor, than most lagers, because they are fermented with low ester producing yeast strains at low temperatures. Their big flavors come mostly from a big hops schedules (except with barleywines which also get character from aging and melanoidin compounds from extended boil.) The malt bills are typically going for muted flavor as well. The pale ale to American Barleywine family of beers that are very popular for being clean – like lagers. They don't reflect the fundamental differences between ales and lagers. Even Imperial stouts, typically, have simple malt bills when you look at the actual base malt – plain two row or pale ale malt. Their flavors come primarily from the specialty malts - dark caramel malts, chocolate malt, roasted barley (which is technically an adjunct) and black malt or other techiniques not related. Dopplebocks, on the other hand are the real malt monsters of the beer world because their potent flavors truly come from the fermented grain, loads of dark Munich malts typically. I find their flavors much more complex than the pale-ale line. Much more fermentation character. If you want to compare Dopplebocks on flavor you really need to go to English and Scottish styles with strong malty characteristics and fruity ester fermentation character of English yeasts.
  22. HokiesandBeer

    HokiesandBeer Initiate (0) Jan 10, 2013 Pennsylvania
    Beer Trader

    If you've never had a decent lager and are in the Philadelphia area stop on over at Victory. They have a lot of great beers on tap that never make it out of the brewery (not counting in my growler).

  23. victory4me

    victory4me Zealot (547) Oct 16, 2004 Pennsylvania

    I'll keep digging!!! Until I taste something!!!
  24. steveh

    steveh Poo-Bah (1,964) Oct 8, 2003 Illinois

    There lies the challenge that makes beer hunting fun. With BA as a guide getting the info needed isn't all that difficult anymore.

    And don't fall into the idea that ales will be bullet proof, there are definitely some stinkers to be had!
  25. Bonis

    Bonis Defender (630) Jul 28, 2010 Ohio

    I brew quite regularly, but haven't gotten into any of the lagers yet due to the temperature issue. For me, it's much more energy and time efficient to brew strictly ales. Trust me, at some point I want to brew a kolsch, pilsener, bock, etc... But it just isn't feasible at this point. If I were to brew a lager, it would definitely be a doppelbock.

    I still get confused at the Baltic Porter.. correct me if I am wrong, isn't it just fermented with a lager yeast at ale fermenting temperatures? It is another style I enjoy, but again, I haven't had many Baltic porters that are better than middle of the road imperial stouts.
  26. hopfenunmaltz

    hopfenunmaltz Meyvn (1,305) Jun 8, 2005 Michigan

    Some are fermented at low temps, as that is the way the brewers make the other beers.

    I have made one that had great flavor and won several awards in competitions. The lager yeast and lagering actually were a plus, as the yeast did not get in the way of the malt as it aged and produced very nice dark fruit flavors.

    Edit - most craft breweries make ales because they ferment faster and take 1/3 the tank time to condition. Tank time is money.
    boddhitree likes this.
  27. LambicPentameter

    LambicPentameter Meyvn (1,471) Aug 29, 2012 Michigan
    Beer Trader

    Oh definitely. Ales are by no means infallible, and really that answer was in reference to more of a thought experiment that Bonis presented--if you were in a store, and had to choose between two bottles of beer to take home, but the only distinguishing characteristics between the two beers were a plain white label with either "LAGER" or "ALE" printed in big, black letters (no brands, no type of ale/lager, no ABV), which would you choose?

    Obviously, it's a somewhat artificial situation, as any beer you buy in real life is going to have a brand and type, which makes it possible to get more information on that particular beer from places like BA. But the question is an interesting one, because it reveals one's own prejudices towards beer types.

    I just finished with a Beer of the Month club and I'd hazard a guess that it was about 50/50 ales and lagers over the course of the year. Interestingly enough, the majority of the most pleasing beers were lager styles. But this was certainly a departure from my traditional expectations.
  28. steveh

    steveh Poo-Bah (1,964) Oct 8, 2003 Illinois

    That's pretty surprising. I was in a BotM club back in the early to mid-90s and had to finally cancel out after about 5 years -- when the last year was all (and I mean 2 sixpacks a month for 12 months) American Pale Ale. This was at the time all the up-coming breweries were jumping on Sierra Nevada's success train. Pretty much killed my taste for Pale Ales for a long time.
  29. HokiesandBeer

    HokiesandBeer Initiate (0) Jan 10, 2013 Pennsylvania
    Beer Trader

    Haha. In my case you're correct. Just bottled my Kolsch on Saturday.
  30. dar482

    dar482 Poo-Bah (3,476) Mar 9, 2007 New York
    Beer Trader

    I went to both Dusseldorf and Cologne last summer. I'll say that I probably like Kolsch more. Then again... That
    Fuchschen Alt straight from the brewery/restaurant.... Jeesh that is good.
    Gutes_Bier likes this.
  31. SteelCity75

    SteelCity75 Initiate (0) Jan 14, 2013 Connecticut

    I have noticed something like this, but it's the other way around. My roommate and his girlfriend have decided that they just don't like ales, that they are "lager people". Which I think is kinda silly, because there are so many varieties to each type, and other than BMC stuff, they've just taken little sips of what I have given them. But, for me, I love them both. I'd probably say I'd pick an ale over a lager, because stouts and pale ales are my favorite types of beer, but I've had a few lagers here and there that totally kicked ass. Great Lakes Dortmunder Gold could go up against pretty much any ale I've had.
  32. hopfenunmaltz

    hopfenunmaltz Meyvn (1,305) Jun 8, 2005 Michigan

    "Ales have greater flavor than lagers." That is true for a few styles. Then there are all the ales like Cream Ale, Blond ale, American wheat, English Pale Ales, Scottish ales, Irish Ale, Dry stouts, Browns and Milds, and some Belgian Pale ales. I can find lagers with more flavor than those.

    What do the experts think of Rauchbiers?
    dar482 likes this.
  33. Gutes_Bier

    Gutes_Bier Disciple (390) Jul 31, 2011 Germany

    Yep, Füchschen Alt is also really good. It's hard to go wrong with a Düsseldorfer Alt. I haven't really given Köln the attention it deserves, something I'm hoping to correct some time this year.
    dar482 likes this.
  34. dar482

    dar482 Poo-Bah (3,476) Mar 9, 2007 New York
    Beer Trader

    Definitely try it out. Depends a bit on what you like though. It definitely has less malty and bold flavors. However, as much as a craft beer lover I am, I do too appreciate refreshing lighter lagers and pale ales.

    On a hot summer day with a heavy German meal, washing everything down with Kolsch is perfect. I think Muhlen was my favorite.
    Gutes_Bier likes this.
  35. hopfenunmaltz

    hopfenunmaltz Meyvn (1,305) Jun 8, 2005 Michigan

    My wife likes the Koelsch. I like the Alt. Nothing better than a lost afternoon sitting at Zum Uerige. Of course these are both cold cool fermented with top fermenting yeasts and then lagered for about 4 weeks. Clean tasting ales, "The horror".
    dar482 and Gutes_Bier like this.
  36. herrburgess

    herrburgess Meyvn (1,031) Nov 4, 2009 South Carolina
    Industry Beer Trader

    Loved Muehlen. Also loved Paeffgen. Matter of fact, I tweaked my Koelsch recipe after the past trip and brewed 30 gallons based on my impressions of Paeffgen. As of yesterday, I was 5 weeks into fermentaion/lagering, so I pulled a sample. I was immediately transported back to Koeln. I think I've now (finally) nailed the Koelsch I want to brew. One sample ended up turning into a 7-8 Stangen...everything really tasted perfect, and as fresh as could be. Prost!
    dar482 and Gutes_Bier like this.
  37. Gutes_Bier

    Gutes_Bier Disciple (390) Jul 31, 2011 Germany

    I've had a bunch, but one lunch at Früh am Dom is the only time I really had anything at a pub in Köln. I have a friend from that area who has talked about taking me around to his favorite haunts. We haven't coordinated yet, though. I think he's still mad at me for going to Düsseldorf before Köln. I would give a Winky-Face, but I think he actually is mad at me for that.
  38. LuckyJohn

    LuckyJohn Aspirant (269) Feb 6, 2013 Colorado

    Most people who are into craft beer can explain in an articulate fashion why they love what they love. My world revolves around a line drawn between a good stout and an IPA. It revolves around that line, though, rather than toeing it. There have been times that I've opened my fridge and found only Lagers there, and been pretty happy about it. I think the point is that it's fun to explore the beer landscape. Wherever your tastes land, that's where they land. It's a lot more exciting (and fun) to take a positive approach to that exploration, rather than using your articulate argument for why you love what you love to put down others tastes. At least that's what I'm taking away from this discussion.
    dar482 likes this.
  39. LambicPentameter

    LambicPentameter Meyvn (1,471) Aug 29, 2012 Michigan
    Beer Trader

    Yeah, mine had a few Pale Ales and IPAs early on, but it seemed like EVERY month had at least one, maybe two lager styles. My final month had a Doppelbock, a Pils, an Imperial Pils, and a Brown Ale.
  40. Sixam2

    Sixam2 Initiate (0) Feb 19, 2013 Washington

    Nothing better than a cold Lager on a 90 degree day.. It's like making love in a canoe...
    I'm an Ale drinker, but appreciate and respect all beers.. Each has it's time and place...
    dar482 likes this.
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