Beer drinkers across the world will agreed - you gotta love a lager. While this style of beer was born in Bavaria hundreds of years ago, using ancient methods of brewing beers in caves or cold beer cellars, this style of beer later gained popularity across Germany and America and is still one of the most popular styles of beer produced and drank worldwide.
Lagers made their way to America in the 1850s when Germans began migrating to the United States and brought with them their brewing techniques and Bavarian hops. This style of beer took off in popularity because of its ability to be produced with cheaper and more readily available ingredients, as well as its ability to be mass produced. While barley and other types of malt were harder to cultivate in America and more expensive to grow, lagers could be produced with portions of corn, wheat, and squash which was more readily available in America. American beer drinkers were also drawn to this style of beer because of its cleaner taste and its traditionally lower content of alcohol. They often associated darker beers with higher levels of alcohol, but enjoyed that they could have one or two of these lighter style beers at lunch without feeling the effects of alcohol that would prohibit them from going back to work after their noon meal.
The rise in popularity of these lighter, cleaner beers that could be mass produced helped start the boom of large breweries across America. These larger breweries that produced lighter colored ales made it through Prohibition by changing their factories to produce things like ice cream and soft drinks, while the smaller breweries that produced darker beers didn’t last through the Prohibition period. Americans were accustomed to these lighter beers by the time breweries were able to produce beer again, and they lasted through the Great Depression as they were generally cheaper to make than darker beers.
American lagers today are produced in a specific way that allows for a longer fermentation done at a lower temperature which affects the yeast, keeping it from producing esters which gives the beer a cleaner flavor profile. There are also less hops used in lagers, so there is less bitterness in the beer overall. These lagers are light in color, crisp, and tend to have a high amount of carbonation. They generally are low in both IBU and ABV with a more neutral flavor quality that is not overly “hoppy” or “malty”. Americans lager have a very light mouth feel that is thirst-quenching, refreshing, and generally easy to drink.
Mexican lagers, another popular style of lager in the US and regions of Mexico, differ slightly from American lagers. This style of beer was first produced in Mexico when Austrian immigrants began to settle there and brew. Today Mexican lagers are not only produced in Mexico but by many big and small breweries all over the United States. These lagers use a special type of yeast that gives the brew it’s unique flavor and special distinction. In our beers Oceanfront Property, Salt River, and Sonoran Amber Lager we use a yeast strain from Mexico that creates a finished brew that is light, clean, and well-balanced
It’s no doubt that lagers have changed over the years in both brewing methods and taste, however, they still remain one of the most heavily produced beers across the United States and the world due to their ability to be mass produced and enjoyed by many. While big breweries may be the most known for producing lagers, small craft breweries also enjoy tackling lagers and making them even better, cleaner, and more delicious overall. The lager style continues to grow in popularity as new beer drinkers emerge and they all seem to echo the same sentiment - you gotta love a lager.