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Jun 8, 2013 11:53 PM

Next Craft Beer Phenom

Over the course of the last 20 years or so there have been a number of different styles that have enjoyed huge success. Back in the mid 90s everybody had there favorite hefeweizen. Then it was pale ales, then stouts, then IPA had their run. Right now I am seeing Belgian yeasts get their turn.

The one thing that these beers all have in common is that they are all ales. When will lagers get their turn? I know that there are a number of breweries that do some lagers but they are clearly the exception to the rule.

When will I get to pick up a local craft brewed pils?

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  1. Quite a few craft brewed lagers, such as pilseners, are out there. Look for them, and you will find many.

        1. re: jpc8015

          Schrimshaw (North Coast) and Polestar (Lefthand) I'd imagine would be available out your way.

          1. re: jpc8015

            Ever beer trade? I haven't but would love to. I could get Jacks Abby around me -

        2. Also lagers are as diverse in color and strength as ale.

          1. As others have mentioned there are many craft lagers. Full Sail, Rogue, Victory, Coney Island, Avery, Ballast Point, North Coast, and Anchor all come to mind off the bat. They tend to be rarer because of the much longer fermentation time required. I think that alone will keep it from becoming a trendy style.

            1. I dont know where in the world you´re from, but pils and lagers is what everybody hates now where I live.

              The new beer trend is all about IPA and pale ales, and also stout, because everyone has started to hate the generic pils.

              And I do as well. It doesnt taste anything, while IPA does. I´m so glad that we´ve moved away from lagers now. Because we are starting to appreciate true craftsmanship behind beer, and exploring the different ingredients from different parts of the world. We´ve been drinking pils and lagers for 50 years without questioning it.

              Lagers and pils are now a thing for old drunks. Who just want to fill their veins with some alcoholic piss.

              28 Replies
              1. re: Ramius

                Many beer lovers enjoy a variety of lagers which as I stated above range in color and strength equal to ale. If you mean macro lager I gotcha. But from pilsners like Victory Prima Pils to eisbocks, lager beer is quality and worthy of your attention.

                1. re: Chinon00

                  I totally agree with Chinon00 on this. There is an amazingly diverse range of lagers in today's craft beer.

                  1. re: Chinon00

                    Spot on. The concept that lager = bad and ale = good is a level of ignorance that you are sure to grow out of as you travel the craft beer road and realize there is a long and delicious history of lager making completely independent of what the macro breweries produce. Just because McDonalds makes Big Macs does not mean there are no hamburgers worth eating. If you get a chance take a trip to Germany or the Czech Republic you will find a world of wonderful lagers of all shapes and varieties that they have been mastering for almost two centuries. And there are certainly plenty of american craft brewers doing wonderful jobs with lagers as well as people have noted. Describing lager/pilsner choices as being bud versus craft beer is no longer accurate.

                  2. re: Ramius

                    I live just outside of the beer capital of the universe...Portland, OR. There is no shortage of stouts, imperial stouts, oatmeal stouts,dry stouts, cream stouts, stout porters, porters, IPAs, double IPAs, imperial IPAs, white IPAs, black IPAs, red IPAs, brown IPAs, browns, bitters, extra special bitters, Summer ales, cream ales, Scottish ales, pale ales, rye ales, wheat ales, spelt ales, and on and on and on...There is no shortage of ales and for the most part they are all very good.

                    All I am saying is that I would love to see a few more of the craft breweries like Deschutes, Widmer, and Stone try their hand at a Munch Helles, pils, or schwartzbier. If you think that lager is only for the village drunkard then you are painting with a pretty broad stroke. There is most definitely a time and a place for a good pils, tomorrow night standing over my grill in my backyard would be a perfect example.

                    1. re: jpc8015

                      I am surprised that in the beer capital of the universe there are no breweries that specialize in lagers. I travel the country with regularity for work (though Portland is not on the list of cities I visit) and I do find that there are a scattering of good lager-oriented breweries in many places.

                      I mentioned Jack's Abby (Massachusetts) earlier because that is the best one I have found but even in my home state of North Carolina we have a pretty good one in Olde Mecklenburg. Not sure how the beer capital of the universe can stake that claim when it lacks a brewery that is not focusing on one of the world's three great brewing traditions.

                      1. re: brentk

                        There may be some breweries out there that specialize in lager. They would just be so small that they don't matter.

                        There are a couple of breweries that do feature a lager or two. Someone else here mentioned Bridgeport which has their Session Lagers. There is also a very small brewery in the town I live in which makes a pils that is passable but I am not convinced they are using lager yeast. I keep meaning to ask but always forget.

                        It just seems to me that this is a style of beer that is a bit neglected in the craft beer world.

                        1. re: jpc8015

                          It's simple math. Lagers = long fermentation and storage, tying up tanks and resources that could be turning out ale. I also lament the lack of craft lagers. There are some good ones out there, but not enough IMO.

                          1. re: Josh

                            Sad yet true. Me thinks this lead to the demise of my fave Sierra Nevada, Pale Bock.

                            1. re: MOREKASHA

                              And Glissade. Still devasted about that one - and still searching for a late winter replacement for it.

                            2. re: Josh

                              In addition to the math, which is pretty compelling, craft breweries focused on ales from the beginning because they were taking inspiration from CAMRA, and McAuliffe was inspired by Scottish beers. Even Anchor eschewed lagers.

                        2. re: jpc8015

                          I am a huge fan of beers like Arrogant Bastard. One hot day I ordered an Arrogant Bastard at a local bar (that lacked air conditioning). I found it difficult to drink. I followed it with Pilsner Urquell, which I typically never order, and it refreshed.

                          1. re: Jim Dorsch

                            I still think that the Original Pivo Urquell (I know that's redundant) was one of the worlds great brews. It's sad what it has become and what folks think of Pils and most have never had a fresh, authentic Urquell. It was one of the few brews that I thought of as a true year 'round tipple.

                          2. re: jpc8015

                            Is Widmer still considered a Craft Brewer in Portland?

                            1. re: JAB

                              Aren't they a Bud product now?

                              1. re: MOREKASHA

                                Regardless of who the parent company is, they are still putting out some fantastic beers. Their rotator IPA series is top notch.

                                I had not heard that they may be an AB subsidiary but it would not surprise me.

                                1. re: jpc8015

                                  AB owns part of the group that comprises Widmer, Kona and Redhook.


                                2. re: MOREKASHA

                                  Yes, for some time now. I used to like their Amber Ale but, wouldn't cite them as a Craft Brewery with so many others to cite in stead.

                                  1. re: JAB

                                    What makes them not craft - except for BA's definition?

                                    If they were craft beer before they were part of a bigger company then they still are - the way I see it, not much has changed about the kind\quality of beer they make. Still making craft styles with flavor imo. It seems many beer geeks get all caught up about their hefeweizen - yet the american wheat beer is a craft style despite being taken over by industrial brewers in the last few years.

                                    Just because you have a preference for other non-corporate breweries, doesn't exclude Widmer from being a craft brewery.

                                    1. re: LStaff

                                      We each have our definitions. My statement was that I wouldn't site them as an example of a craft brewer when there are so many independent craft brewers who could have been cited in their stead.

                                      1. re: LStaff

                                        "...What makes them not craft - except for BA's definition?
                                        If they were craft beer before they were part of a bigger company then they still are..."

                                        Totally agree.
                                        I'll go a step further and say that _any_ beer made with more attention, care, and flavor than the run of the mill American Light Lager has every right to call itself "craft" beer.

                                        And for the sake of conversation, I'll stir up the mud more with this question: If a small, artisanal ("craft") brewer decides to make and sell an American Light Lager, is it not still a "craft" beer by virtue of it's origins???

                                        That tired marketing term ("craft beer") inches more and more towards obsolescence with each passing year.

                                        1. re: The Professor

                                          I also agree. Widmer may be owned by a company which then has a parent company that also owns Budweiser...however that goes; it is irrelevant to me.

                                          For me the bottom line is whether or not the beer in the glass is good and Widmer still puts out some great beer. Their rotator IPA series comes to mind. Check it out.

                                          I think the same is true for Redhook. I think they are a sibling to Widmer at this point. I still love Redhook.

                                          1. re: jpc8015

                                            And then you have Shock Top, Land Shark, etc. which are masquerading as craft beers.
                                            More water muddying.

                                            1. re: TroyTempest

                                              I don't know what the story with Shock Top is but I guess it is similar to Blue Moon.

                                              Blue Moon is Coors' attempt at getting into the craft beer market. The difference is that producers like Widmer and Redhook started out as small micro breweries that got large and larger as demand for their product grew. I don't know that either of them can still be defined as "micro" but would still call both of them "craft" Blue Moon, on the other hand, is a brand from Coors Brewing Company in the same way that Miller High Life is a brand from Miller Brewing.

                                              Coors has done a great job of hiding the fact that Blue Moon belongs to them. You won't find the word Coors anywhere on the label.

                                              I went to my mom and dad's house house a few weeks back for a barbecue. My mom was so excited to tell me that she picked up some of the Belgian beer that I like so was Blue Moon. I smiled politely, thanked her, and drank it.

                                              1. re: jpc8015

                                                Well, gosh, Blue Moon isn't so baaaadd. But when you get a chance to try a Belgian Witbier with some history to it, then the game really changes. For me, Blanche de Namur was quite a transformational experience, with immense depth and layers of flavor that truly fascinated me. Give a real Belgian a try and you can quickly see what is lacking in Shlock Top and Blue Moon.

                                                1. re: Tripeler

                                                  I agree, Blue Moon isn't s bad when compared to Bud Light, Coors Light, etc...It is definitely a step up. It will do the trick when I am standing ver a hot barbecue all day.

                                                  By no means will Blue Moon replace Chimay White in my heart though.

                                                2. re: jpc8015

                                                  Blue Moon was introduced in 1995 (according to Wikipedia, and that seems about right). Coors showed extraordinary patience as they slowly grew the brand. The brewer, Keith Villa, studied brewing in Belgium.

                                                  Shock Top started in 2006 (again, according to Wikipedia), and it is sold at a pretty low price point, unlike Blue Moon, which is priced more like craft beer.

                                                  While both brewers seek to exploit the craft beer market, I give a lot of credit to Coors for building a solid brand, while AB is doing their usual thing, coming into the game late and using price to drive sales.

                                                  Putting a low price on a supposed "craft" beer undermines the segment by reducing potential profitability, and it makes Shock Top vulnerable to sales erosion should AB want to bring up its price point.

                                                  1. re: Jim Dorsch

                                                    I dont have an issue with Blue Moon either. Its a drinkable beer with some tradition behind it. Shock Top is gross in comparison in my opinion. I was just in Denver recently and took some time to walk around downtown stopping at all the MANY MANY awesome breweries that saturate the city. I did stop by Coors Field's Sandlot Brewery where Blue Moon was born as I had heard they had some interesting variations that they only served there. Sure enough they had 8 or 9 different beers on tap. I tried a sampler and I must say their experimentation left a lot to be desired... They had an agave Blue Moon (imagine Blue Moon mixed with tequila *shudder*), a juniper DIPA which was overwhelmed by the taste of steeped juniper... and something called "Tongue Thaid" which was a belgian style ale brewed with what seemed like millions of tons of lemon grass... All three were really tough to get down. And all three made my regular Blue Moon taste quite good!

                                                    1. re: Insidious Rex

                                                      I've heard the beer selection at the Sandlot has changed as of late. When I visited in 2005?, they had a wide selection of all malt lagers that were pretty good examples of their styles - even had a rauchbier that was in the range of something like Spezial.