What Is Lager Beer?

There are many popular types, tastes and colors of beer, but what is lager beer? Lager is always beer, but beer is not always lager. In order to understand what lager is we must look at what the process is, starting from the early beer making stages. "Storage" is the German translation for the word "lager." This type of beer is brewed at low temperatures using bottom-fermenting yeast for longer periods of time than is usually used in beer ale. In medieval time “lagering” was simply the cold storage of beers in caves. Later, lager beer meant it went through the slow fermenting process during its inception. Lager beer made its way to America in 1840 with German immigrants. A Philadelphia brew master carried yeast strains from Bavaria to produce the first lager beers.

Pale lager beer process was started in the mid nineteenth century. Pale lager beer is pale beige to deep gold in color with distinct hop-bitter flavors. While in storage, slow-acting yeast strains ferment at low temperatures creating this popular lager. Light lager was first created in New Zealand in 1953. A faster paced lager production was possible through a continuous fermentation process. Even though it has less flavor, it became a popular beer choice. Budweiser is a pale lager, as it is America’s choice in favorite commercially made beers but is also common in most microbreweries.

The darkest lagers are complex in flavor without a strong hop taste. The lower fermentation process in lagers causes the yeast to have less esters and phenols which brings out the spicy or fruity flavors that are found in ales more than in lagers. Dark lager includes German Dunkels, Viennas or Schwarzbiers. The colors range from amber to a deep reddish brown and usually has a smooth flavor. The alcohol content is normally in the four to six percent range. Doppelbeck is dark and the strongest type of lager beer, originally from Germany; the alcohol content can be much higher. In Samichlaus—a favorite commercially made Doppelbeck— the alcohol content can go as high as fourteen percent.

California common or steam beer is a type of lager that was originally produced using an effective yeast strain selected by immigrant German brew masters. They found that higher temperatures in the Pacific region of the country contributed to a better controlled fermentation process. Temperatures between eighteen to twenty degrees Celsius produced the best lagers. Pilsners are a variety of lager beers. Stout is made using dark malts and roasted longer using ale yeast at warmer temperatures and is not considered a lager beer.

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