Craft Beer 101: The Lighter Side of Lagers

So last week we talked about the difference between Ales and Lagers. I also said that this week we were going to talk about all the types of lagers. I may have lied... mostly because that would be an absurdly long list. This week we're going to break down some of the more common, light styles of lager that you see and also some ones to look for.

It should be noted that these lists are not at all comprehensive. I'll miss and outright pass over some styles or examples, and I'll probably combine some similar styles. But it's a good starting point and hopefully we can point you toward some new stuff to try. 

American Pale Lager

The American Pale Lagers has little hop or malt character. It's always straw to gold in color and has a clean, crisp flavor and is always highly carbonated. It will be more flavorful than American Light Lagers, but less than it's international counterparts. They'll also have far less hops then European Pilsners. 

  • Malt: Low
  • Hops: Low
  • Flavor: Bright, Crisp, Clean
  • Pair With: Pho, Munster Cheese, Kettle Corn



Bohemian/Czech Pilsener

Bohemian Style hail from the CzechRepublic, originating around 1842. Despite having similar IBUs to Germal Pilsners the hop characteristics are less pronounced in the Bohemian Pilsner. They also tend to be a little darker in color and a little lower in alcohol. 

  • Malt: Toasted, biscuit-like, and/or bready malt flavors along with low levels of fermented-malt-derived sulfur compounds may be evident.
  • Hops: Hop aroma and flavor are low to medium-low, deriving from noble-type hops. Hop bitterness is medium. They'll almost always have Saaz hops.
  • ABV: 4.1%5.1% alcohol
  • Pair With: Chicken, Shellfish, Mild-Cheddar Cheese


German Style Pilsener

The German Pilsener evolved from it's Czech counterpart to be a little more hoppy, a little lighter in color and malt, and a little higher in alcohol, but unless you're literally judging a beer tasting, the styles are incredibly similar. They're just different enough to notable. 

  • Malt: A malty residual sweetness can be perceived in aroma and flavor. A little less sweet than the Bohemian and a little lighter on body
  • Hops: Hop flavor is moderate and quite obvious, deriving from late hopping (not dry-hopping) with noble-type hops. Hop bitterness is medium to hig
  • ABV: 4.6%-5.3%
  • Pair With: Chicken, Salad, Shortbread Cookies


Munich helles Lager

“Helles” means “pale in color,” as these beers are often golden. They are similar in flavor to adjunct-influenced lagers, but possess more advanced pilsener malt flavor and have a touch more sweetness, and are less dry in the finish. A full-bodied lager that puts pilsener malt flavors forward and can be perceived as bready. Clean and crisp, this is a refreshing beer with substance.

  • Malt: Malt character is sometimes bread-like, yet always reminiscent of freshly and very lightly toasted malted barley
  • Hops: Hop aroma is not perceived to low. Hop flavor and bitterness are very low to low, deriving from European noble-type hops
  • ABV: 4.8%-5.6%
  • Pair With: Samosas, Colby Cheese, Baklava


Next week... slightly darker lagers!!! Spoilers: Shiner is neither a bock nor a lager.