Using the word beer in place of lager

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by Mr3dPHD, Feb 14, 2020.

  1. Mr3dPHD

    Mr3dPHD Initiate (194) May 6, 2008 Florida

    Can someone give me a rundown of when and why the word beer is sometimes used to in place of lager? What I mean is, instead of saying "lager and ale", why do I sometimes see people saying "beer and ale"?

    I don't see it very often, and when I do, I get the feeling that it's either 1) an archaic use of the word beer which is no longer the proper use, or 2) perhaps how it is legitimately used in certain other countries (I live in the US).

    Right now I'm skimming through "Grossman's Guide to Wines, Beers, and Spirits" (6th revised edition) by Harold J. Grossman. The book was published in 1977. In the book, he describes how when beer is fermented, the yeast falls to the bottom, whereas in ale it mostly rises to the top. He also mentions lagers, but only as a sub style of "beer".

    I'm studying for the first episode of the podcast tonight, and it seems like something worth going into, at some point at least. Thanks guys!
     
    Amendm, officerbill and Roguer like this.
  2. dennis3951

    dennis3951 Savant (955) Mar 6, 2008 New Jersey

    I have no idea why, It must be something new!!!
     
  3. zid

    zid Meyvn (1,411) Feb 15, 2010 New York
    Society Trader

    It can get really complicated, but in England in the past, "beer" used to be a hopped beverage and "ale" was without hops. They were considered two different things, but those meanings evolved over time. As you know, today, beer-hobbyists generally think of beer as the top category that is then broken down into ales and lagers, but don't fall into the trap of thinking that this is somehow THE "proper" way of viewing things. (Personally, I think people took a wrong turn when they went down that road.)

    Pre-craft American brewers also made a distinction between beer and ale (and porter) at times. I couldn't tell you if they did so mainly because of reverberations from earlier distinctions, or if they were only referring to their lagers when they said "beer" (as in lager beer), or if they were only referring to beverages in the English tradition when they said "ales" (or perhaps a combination of all of the above). I'd only trust @jesskidden with an explanation. Note the avatar of @dennis3951 above (hence his joke). Some craft brewers also use "beer and ale," but I assume they do so for throwback reasons.
     
  4. beertunes

    beertunes Poo-Bah (6,927) Sep 24, 2007 Liechtenstein
    Society Trader

    Might also be a labelling thing. IIRC, Texas used to have a certain ABV cut-off, anything below was "beer" and anything above was "Ale".

    Post prohibition, the states were left to make their own liquor laws, and there's some real doozies out there.
     
  5. jesskidden

    jesskidden Poo-Bah (1,944) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey
    Society Trader

    Yeah, as @zid wrote and @dennis3951 illustrates*, "Beer and Ale" was the common terminology in the US right up to the craft era. Just the other day, in another thread, I posted a 'snip' from a report from an industry committee written to the Federal regulations about to write the new alcoholic beverages laws in the US after Repeal in which they clearly state that "BEER", used with no other descriptor (e.g., "steam" and "common" below) in this country was understood to be synonymous with "LAGER BEER".
    [​IMG]
    A quick Google of the expression will turn up countless examples of US beer ads and breweriana items using it, as well. In the northeast, lots of brewers (like the 1930's Yuengling ad below) made it "Beer, Ale and Porter".
    [​IMG]

    * As I've noted before, when I had a beer license in upstate NY I had to drive quite a far distance to get to the local Ballantine distributor (it was in a dirt-floored barn!) and buy Ballantine XXX Ale for my store since he would not deliver to me. While there I asked for some signage (like a Ballantine neon but they were all broken) and he gave me that light in dennis3951's avatar and it always annoyed me that it said "Beer and Ale" and not, as had long been traditional for the ale brewer P. Ballantine & Son, "Ale and Beer". (It's still in my garage and a few years back, I was surprised to see it was made for Ballantine - I'd always assumed it was from the Falstaff era).

    The sign atop Genesee's brewery in Rochester is another classic surviving example:
    [​IMG]
     
    #5 jesskidden, Feb 14, 2020
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2020
  6. NYRunner

    NYRunner Initiate (60) Nov 5, 2018 New York

    I may be showing my age, but I think also that when I came of age in the 1970s, lager was pretty much the only game in town. If you ordered a beer it meant a lager, at least in my neighborhood. Other then perhaps Ballentine, ales were generally imported and more exotic.
     
    seakayak and Mr3dPHD like this.
  7. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (4,368) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Society

    I am old enough to recall when referring to a beer as a lager became popular in my area and that was when Yuengling Traditional Lager was introduced in the late 80's. Folks would walk into the bar and say to the bartender: "Give me a lager" and the bartender would serve the customer Yuengling Traditional Lager.

    Cheers!
     
  8. zid

    zid Meyvn (1,411) Feb 15, 2010 New York
    Society Trader

    Any guesses why?
     
    Mr3dPHD likes this.
  9. Mr3dPHD

    Mr3dPHD Initiate (194) May 6, 2008 Florida

    You guys are so amazing. It's very comforting to know that I literally have a panel of beer (and ale, hey-ooo) experts at my disposal!

    Check this out. So I have several vintage beer related books, some older - some not so old, and this morning I was browsing thorough one called "The International Book of Beer: A Guide to the World's Most Popular Drink", by Barrie Pepper (1997). And I quote from the glossary:

    I found this pretty interesting. So, at least according to this author, in 1997 the term "beer" seems to have still been in a transitory state towards being used as a catch-all. Further, stouts (and I imagine porters) were still seen as separate from ales. I looked up the author and he is indeed British, so perhaps the terms still hadn't changed to what we use now at that time in the UK.
     
    seakayak likes this.
  10. jesskidden

    jesskidden Poo-Bah (1,944) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey
    Society Trader

    Oops, you've written the "Magic Word" (tip o' the hat to Groucho). Time for me to pull out my copy/paste list of 1970s era US ales and porters :wink:
    But, yeah, asking for a "lager" in a bar in most of the country in the '70s would have resulted in two responses (based on the local market and/or bartender's knowledge):
    "A what?"
    "Huh? They're all lagers..."

    Industry estimates put "ale" at around 1% of all US beer production by the late 1960s, but it might have - temporarily - bumped up a bit in the '70s during the "great cream ale scare" and the tiny beginning stirrings of the (even greater) "US beer awakening" that would evolve (or birth?) into the craft beer movement.

    Oh, probably just common usage, both by the brewers (overwhelming of German heritage, of course) and the consumers that stretched back to the last half of the nineteenth century. Abbreviated from "Lager Beer" and they picked the word with fewest syllables? :thinking_face:

    The point is that it was "lager beer" that turned the US into a beer drinking nation. Lots of people know that before lager arrived in the US in the 1840s, it was all ale and (top fermented) "common beer" here but it was a tiny industry, comparatively.

    Sure, in the "US beer mythology" there are all sorts of images of the colonial-era taverns, Jefferson and Washington as brewers, etc., but the pre-lager nation was not a beer drinking one. In 1810 the estimates are per capita the country consumed 4.6 gallons of spirits and 16 gallons of cider and 0.7 gallons of "beer". A century later, US beer consumption was nearing 20 gallons per person, and by some industry estimates "ales" were less than 10% of that, and pretty regional to boot. (Some sources have "ale" actually increasing its market share after Repeal, but went downhill from then on - as noted above in that 1% in the late 1960s).
     
  11. jesskidden

    jesskidden Poo-Bah (1,944) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey
    Society Trader

    Yeah, if you're asking about the usage of the phrase "Beer and Ale" by US brewers, don't look for answers from a British beer writer. It's been that way for a LONG time, too.
     
    officerbill and Bitterbill like this.
  12. dennis3951

    dennis3951 Savant (955) Mar 6, 2008 New Jersey

    I don't remember the term lager being used until the craft era got going. New Amsterdam Amber Lager is the 1st one that comes to mind. Anchor Steam was a lager but was called beer. Anchor did call Liberty Ale an Ale.
     
  13. jesskidden

    jesskidden Poo-Bah (1,944) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey
    Society Trader

    Yeah, by then there weren't too many US brewers who even labeled their beer "lager". Lucky Lager on the west coast is the first that comes to mind. I think AB dropped "lager beer" from the Budweiser label in the 1950s. In the northeast centered around NYC Rheingold's label said "EXTRA DRY Lager Beer" and there was also America's Oldest Lager Beer:
    [​IMG]
    Think again. :wink:
    [​IMG]
     
    #13 jesskidden, Feb 14, 2020
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2020
  14. beerwego

    beerwego Initiate (44) Dec 5, 2019

    Pretty sure this is specific to England, where they once, or still do to some degree call out Ales, Porter and Beer as 3 unique types served.
     
  15. MNAle

    MNAle Poo-Bah (1,663) Sep 6, 2011 Minnesota
    Society

    The first time I can recall hearing someone order a "lager" specifically was in England in the 1980s. That was to distinguish it from bitter and mild at the pub.
     
  16. Bitterbill

    Bitterbill Poo-Bah (6,825) Sep 14, 2002 Wyoming
    Society Trader

    Was it a Carling?
     
  17. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (4,368) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Society

    JK, what are your thoughts concerning the claim by Schaefer of “America's Oldest Lager Beer”?

    There is debate about who brewed the first lager beer in America but a number of beer writers would state that John Wagner brewed the first lager beer in 1840 in a small brewery in Philadelphia:

    [​IMG]

    Would you happen to know when Yuengling in Pottsville, PA got their hands on a lager yeast strain and started producing lager beers?

    Cheers!
     
    seakayak likes this.
  18. jesskidden

    jesskidden Poo-Bah (1,944) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey
    Society Trader

    The way I always read it was that Schaefer's claim of being the "oldest" implied the oldest surviving/still-brewed lager beer, not necessarily the first lager beer in the US or even the oldest lager beer brewery. The F. & M. Schaefer Brewing Co. simply had outlived Wagner and Manger in Philadelphia and other brewers who may have had the lager yeast earlier. (Not sure when they adopted the slogan - I don't see if after a quick review of their Pre-Pro material).

    I've never seen a specific date for when Yuengling first got lager yeast but their official company biography notes that the "new" brewery, built after the fire in 1831 which destroyed their previous one, had caves built into the side of the hill in anticipation of getting lager yeast and lagering the beer at cool temperatures. 100 Years of Brewing does say that they brewed 600 barrels of "common beer" and ale their first year. That book also notes that Yuengling's malt was coming from John Gaul's malt house in Philadelphia, so they would have had easy access to the yeast
     
    #18 jesskidden, Feb 14, 2020
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2020
  19. MNAle

    MNAle Poo-Bah (1,663) Sep 6, 2011 Minnesota
    Society

    I didn't pay any attention; I was enjoying my beer paradigm shift from American beer to cask bitters.

    These pubs were all tied houses, so IDK ... maybe it was the brewer's own lager.
     
    Bitterbill likes this.
  20. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (4,368) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Society

    Yeah, I was thinking that the proximity of Yuengling to Philadelphia would make the acquisition of lager yeast from Philly to be an easy task. I would be willing to bet that Yuengling brewed lager beer prior to Schaefer (which did not open until 1842).

    And needless to say Yuengling is still brewing lager beers today (while Schaefer went out if business quite some time ago).

    Cheers!
     
    KentT and FBarber like this.
  21. marquis

    marquis Crusader (795) Nov 20, 2005 United Kingdom (England)

    In very many pubs in the UK will be found posters or decorated mirrors/windows offering Ale and Stout.
    Unfortunately the notion that our favourite drink is either ale or lager according to yeast action has taken root, try telling a non German that Kolsch is a top fermented lager (obergarige lagerbier)!
     
  22. dennis3951

    dennis3951 Savant (955) Mar 6, 2008 New Jersey

    Shortly after they built a "state of the art" brewery near Allentown. Now owned by Boston Beer Company.
     
  23. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (4,368) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Society

    Yes, the 1970’s and 1980’s was period of change for F. & M. Schaefer Brewing Company.

    They opened the Breinigsville, PA brewery in 1972.

    They closed their NYC (Brooklyn) brewery in 1976.

    Then in 1981 the Schaefer family sold the company to the Stroh Brewery Company. So, the Breinigsville, PA brewery started brewing Stroh’s beer.

    Sometime in the early 2000’s (2001?) the Breinigsville, PA brewery was sold to Diageo North America, Inc. and used for the production of Smirnoff Ice malt beverages.

    And then in 2008 Boston Brewing Co. (Sam Adams) purchased the Breinigsville, PA brewery.

    Cheers!

    P.S. If anything above is in error and/or incomplete I am confident that jesskidden will chime in
     
    dennis3951 likes this.
  24. jesskidden

    jesskidden Poo-Bah (1,944) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey
    Society Trader

    Well, IIRC, F. & M. Schaefer didn't brew lager right off the bat, but sometime within that decade they obviously got some some lager yeast, too. I'm not so sure the Wagner yeast was the only lager yeast that made it to the US in that period (which is usually credited to the faster clipper ships of that period), Lemp in St. Louis also was brewing lager early on - or claimed to. And there's supposedly a story about Wagner's brother-in-law being arrested for trying to steal a sample of the lager yeast - suggesting Wagner wasn't too generous with it.

    Haven't review the current research on the that lager yeast lately...

    The slogan might have only been used by the brewery in ads and labels after Repeal, but the claim dates from the pre-Pro era.
    [​IMG]
    Yeah, but that was my point above - it's a claim for the beer brand not the brewery. :grin: It has changed hands - Stroh > Pabst, but it's still Schaefer Beer. And it looks like it's about to be revived, brewed by Matt, so again in NY State for the first time since the 1970s and an updated slogan, too:
    NEW YORK'S OLDEST LAGER BEER

    Well, they were independent for nearly a decade after opening the Lehigh Valley brewery in 1972 and bought by Stroh in 1981.

    Opps, I see some of that info's posted already. (Shouldn't take a beer break in the middle of a post :grin:).

    Well, that took a year or so after the deal IIRC, since they had to build the addition for the "fire-brewing" kettles.
     
  25. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (4,368) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Society

    JK, do you understand the business relationship here? Is FX Matt contract brewing Schaefer for Pabst? Or did FX Matt purchase (or license) the brand name of Schaefer from Pabst?

    FWIW the proclamation of "New York's Oldest Lager Beer" sounds more on the mark to me.

    Cheers!
     
  26. jesskidden

    jesskidden Poo-Bah (1,944) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey
    Society Trader

    That's what it looks like to me - that's Pabst's toll-free number on the can. 1-800-947-2278

    Matt has brewed a few Pabst brands over the past couple of decades - besides that McSorley's, I think they've did some Haffenreffer, too (but that might have been only after Pabst lost the rights to the brand and they returned to the Haffenreffer heirs).
     
    beertunes likes this.
  27. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (4,368) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Society

    Do you know how many Brewing Companies contract brew Pabst products? I presume the majority (as measured by volume) of Pabst beer is brewed by Molson Coors Beverage Co. breweries. Why does Pabst choose to utilize other breweries besides those of Molson Coors Beverage Co.? Do other breweries brew Pabst beers at a cheaper cost?

    Cheers!
     
  28. jesskidden

    jesskidden Poo-Bah (1,944) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey
    Society Trader

    A lot, since they started closing breweries in the '80s through the early '00s. Heileman (which bought Pabst and then spun it off, keeping some breweries) brewed some of the Pabst beers as part of that deal, and then Stroh took them over in the mid-90s. After S&P bought Pabst, some brands might have been brewed at their other breweries (Falstaff in IN, Pearl in TX, probably too late for General in Vancouver).

    Then in the late 90's they made the deal to switch over to Miller which, by some accounts, is what pushed Stroh over the edge (and then selling out to Miller and Pabst).

    The Lion did some Pabst brands (Schaefer and Old Milwaukee are two I recall) and later City Latrobe picked some up, too. City Lacrosse has done that breweries' former flagship Old Style and Special Export, and Old Tankard Ale and others (City does a lot of their flavored stuff, IIRC, like the hard sodas). Pabst did some brands (like Rainier) at the now closed CBA brewery in Woodinville WA, and some others (Stroh) at that Brew Detroit facility. They used the Wisconsin Brewing Co. for Old Tankard. Cold Spring for the short-lived revived Ballantine ales. Some tiny place did that hard coffee.
     
    #28 jesskidden, Feb 15, 2020
    Last edited: Feb 15, 2020
    beertunes likes this.
  29. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (4,368) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Society

    What about contemporary times? How many brewing companies in February 2020 are brewing beers for Pabst?

    Cheers!
     
  30. jesskidden

    jesskidden Poo-Bah (1,944) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey
    Society Trader

    I guess you'd have to check with them - some of those smaller brands not done at Molson Coors' breweries (like the newer Stroh beers, the hard coffee and hard soda, that new Matt Schaefer) come and go so quickly - some seem like one-time or test market beers - maybe they don't even know. Likely those brands aren't done at MC because of that, smaller batches are obviously easier to do at smaller facilities. You'd think they'd also cost Pabst more for that reason.
     
    beertunes likes this.
  31. Coronaeus

    Coronaeus Meyvn (1,001) Apr 21, 2014 Ontario (Canada)
    Trader

    Up here, at least for the Ontario market, Pabst is brewed by Sapporo at the Guelph Sleeman Brewery.
     
    JackHorzempa likes this.
  32. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (4,368) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Society

    Yup, I have great difficulty keeping up with the stuff that Pabst does - it seems like every few months they change operations. I still awaiting a press release on whether Pabst will purchase the Irwindale, CA brewery. I pose questions to you since you seem to have better abilities in tracking Pabst then I do.
    That is a plausible explanation.
    FWIW that is what I would think. I suppose it comes down to the 'art of the deal'?

    Cheers!
     
  33. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (4,368) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Society

    I suppose brewing locally (Canadian brewery for Canadian customers) saves money? No import costs? Cheaper distribution costs.

    Cheers!
     
    dennis3951 likes this.
  34. Coronaeus

    Coronaeus Meyvn (1,001) Apr 21, 2014 Ontario (Canada)
    Trader

    Indeed. I would wager it is brewed in other provinces as well for the local market. It remains difficult and expensive to ‘import’ beer from other provinces. I wouldn’t be surprised if it was brewed at Unibroue for the Quebec market.

    Up until that last 5-10 years, I don’t think any of the big US brands available here were imported. I know that Miller High Life is now, at least in bottles. We only started getting imported versions of stuff like Carlsberg and Lowenbrau during the same time period. I think Guinness Extra Stout is still brewed by Labatt here in Ontario and comes in the twist-off 341ml bottles. An oddity to be sure.
     
  35. Crusader

    Crusader Disciple (302) Feb 4, 2011 Sweden

    Apparently they brew an all malt version of Schlitz in Germany for sale in Russia by the looks of the cyrillic lettering on the side of the can and the many Russian websites where one finds pictures of the can.
    [​IMG]
     
  36. jesskidden

    jesskidden Poo-Bah (1,944) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey
    Society Trader

    Stroh had been a minority investor in the reborn Sleeman, but I think as they started losing money in the '90s they sold their shares but had already licensed some brands to the Sleeman. Then, when Stroh went out of business in 1999 they sold the Canadian rights to some of those brands, which Pabst (and Miller) purchased in the US. IIRC Old Milwaukee in particular was one of the largest selling US brand in Canada?

    Further back ( sometime in period between 1970s and the 1990s) you guys up there were still getting German-brewed Lowenbrau while we in the states got Miller-brewed-under-license, adjunct Lowenbrau. And there was a period there where in Canada you got imported Tuborg and domestic Carlsberg (Labatt, I guess) while in the states we got Danish-brewed Carlsberg and brewed-under-license Tuborg (from Carling and then Heileman).
     
    #36 jesskidden, Feb 15, 2020
    Last edited: Feb 15, 2020
    Coronaeus and beertunes like this.
  37. Coronaeus

    Coronaeus Meyvn (1,001) Apr 21, 2014 Ontario (Canada)
    Trader


    If memory serves, Pabst and Old Milwaukee were introduced to the Canadian market (in modern times) as products made by Sleeman around the same time.

    I don’t doubt that Old Milwaukee was a very strong seller here back in the mid-late 90s. It was everywhere and sold as a budget brand. The high-octane version was popular with street drinkers in Montreal. You could get it in these hefty screw top bottles that must have held a litre or so. Almost growler-like in appearance.
     
    unlikelyspiderperson likes this.
  38. jesskidden

    jesskidden Poo-Bah (1,944) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey
    Society Trader

    Wasn't the initial Pabst Blue Ribbon licensing deal in the 1990s with Lakeport Brewing Co.?
     
    beertunes likes this.
  39. Coronaeus

    Coronaeus Meyvn (1,001) Apr 21, 2014 Ontario (Canada)
    Trader

    You know what. That actually sounds right. They did a lot of contract stuff back before they almost went bankrupt at the end of the 90s. They did all the store brand beer up here (President’s Choice, No Name etc.). I’ll try looking it up.
     
  40. Coronaeus

    Coronaeus Meyvn (1,001) Apr 21, 2014 Ontario (Canada)
    Trader

    Right you are, as usual! It was in 1993. Lakeport started brewing Pabst, Lone Star and Rainier (I don’t remember ever seeing Rainier). Sleeman had begun selling Strohs and Old Milwaukee in 1989. Sleeman took over the Pabst brand in 1999.
     
    unlikelyspiderperson likes this.