Micro takes on macro trends
Despite the expansion of craft beer, the overwhelming majority of beer sold in the US is still american lagers. American light lagers, the most popular style of lager, are defined as very light in color and generously carbonated. They have a slight malty backbone, with little or no hop character. While not necessarily the go-to style for craft-beer drinkers, there is definitely still a love for them.
It’s no surprise that these macro lagers are distinctly different from the ales that make up most craft beers. The differences between the two styles start with the type of yeast. Lager yeast is bottom fermenting. It thrives at cooler temperatures, and often leaves a cleaner finish. Ale yeast is top fermenting and thrives in warmer temperatures. Craft beer brewers tended to use ale yeast due to its warmer fermentation temperature, quicker processing time, and increased compatibility with hops. But lager yeast can create a cleaner, less-muddled flavor profile, allowing a beers other ingredients to shine through.
Craft lagers can be a great gateway into the world of craft beer. Think back to what your first craft beer was. Likely the answer is Yuengling, an American lager. Not only are lagers great for bridging the macro-beer drinkers entry into craft beer, they tend to provide a comfortable, long-term, everyday style perfect for the veteran ale drinker.
Today’s craft beer drinker's palate is becoming fatigued. There are too many hop bombs, alcohol heavy offerings, and extreme beers. Palates need a break. Craft beer consumers suffering hop fatigue are increasing looking to replace aggressive flavor with subtlety. To accomplish this they are turning to lagers for relief.
In an attempt to be approachable to more people, we tried our hand at making an American light lager. It is an exceptionally difficult style to make, as there is nothing to hide potential flaws. For our version, we substituted the corn found in typical macro light lagers with English wheat. This changes the flavor profile, creating wonderful bready notes. We made also sure to include subtle noble German hops, so that they wouldn’t overwhelm the beer. Together these subtle spice and fruit notes elevate the beer, while its crisp clean finish ensures that craft beer lovers both new and old will love it.