In the past few years, this beer category, which used to be stereotyped as mass-produced, water-y fizz, has been gaining interest and even stealing some thunder from IPAs and imperial, barrel-aged ales. There’s more attention both on classic European lagers and lagers crafted in the United States. Here are some favorite lagers among craft brewers.
Executive Brewmaster at Full Sail Brewing Company, Hood River, Oregon
Andechser Doppelbock Dunkel is my favorite. The Monks have a way with Doppelbock! Brewed at the Kloster Andechs, it’s rich, malty, dense, and delicious, with aromas of figs and caramel, and a long clean finish. Of course, part of the experience is getting off the S-Bahn in Herrsching and making the trek up the “Heilige Berg” (Holy Mountain) to enjoy a Maß or two. When I studied in Munich, I drank there religiously.
Brewer at LowDown Brewery + Kitchen, Denver, Colorado
There is a plethora of fantastic lagers from Germany, but fresh beer is always better. Finding a flavorful and well-made lager isn’t always easy in the States, but lucky for us, Firestone Walker (Paso Robles, California) added a pilsner to their lineup. Pivo Pils is easily my favorite lager right now. It’s a traditional German pils plus a little dry hop (German hops, of course). They really nailed it.
Brewer at Tröegs Brewery, Hershey, Pennsylvania
Some of my favorite lagers are Longmont, Colorado-based Left Hand Brewing’s Polestar Pilsner and Oktoberfest. What I really like about Polestar is how crisp and refreshing it is but also how hoppy it can be. And Oktoberfest is just really malty, delicious, and a great representation of the style.
Owner and Head Brewer at Heater Allen Brewing, McMinnville, Oregon
The lager I would choose is unfiltered and unpasteurized Pilsner Urquell (Pilsen, Czech Republic). It’s beer that’s made the way Pilsner was made 100 years ago—in big wooden barrels. If you go to the brewery, you can taste it straight out of the barrel. And it is absolutely delicious. Here, it tastes nothing like it does in the Czech Republic.
Brewer at Eddyline Brewing, Buena Vista, Colorado
I had Grimm Brothers (Loveland, Colorado) Fearless Youth Dunkel the other day, and it was good. For me, the fruitiness of the yeast strain took almost a backseat to a complex malt profile. It finished fairly light and crisp for how dark it was. Very balanced.