Better Know Your Beer Style: Category 01- Light Lagers

15 12 2009

Of all the beer styles out there, I believe none are more loved or despised than the Light Lagers. This category includes what many people would call “watery beers” or “piss beers”. They are what we think of when we are talking about “American Mega Breweries.” But they are also one of the most difficult beers to brew consistently.

While many, including myself, do not care for this category of beers, think of the talent, skill and technique necessary to brew billions of gallons of beer each year with the consistency it has. Some of the best brewers in the world are working to brew this surprisingly challenging beer with no off flavors.

I am very impressed, even if the beer does nothing for me.

So next time some one offers you a light American lager, give it a try, and be appreciative of the craft that went into brewing that beer. And then grab something else and enjoy that, too.

BJCP Category 01- Light Lagers:

Subcategories: Light American Lagers, Standard American Lagers, Premium American Lagers, Munich Helles, Dortmunder Export

Aroma: There should be no to slight malt aroma. However, a Munich Helles and Dortmunder can have some grainy aromas. Hop aroma can range from none to slight spice and floral. A cooked corn (DMS) or green apple aroma from yeast is acceptable.

Appearance: Light American Lagers should have no head, be very light and very clear. Dortmunder Export can be golden or deep wheat in color with a large, frothy, persistant head. Beers in between can fall within this range.

Flavor: For the most part, light lagers should be crisp and clean. High levels of carbonation should give a sharp and slightly acidic bite. Hops should range from none to slight. Overall, it should be balanced. Dortmunder Export should be sweeter with more of a hoppy character. But it should remain balanced, favoring neither.

Mouthfeel: Light and Standard American Lagers should be light, crisp, and highly carbonated. Whereas, Premium American Lagers, Munich Helles, and Dortmunder Export should have medium body and mild carbonation.

Ingredients: For the American lagers, 2 Row Malt and corn for adjunct. For the German Lagers: Pilsner with German noble hops.

Technical Notes:
Original Gravity: 1.028-1.056
Final Gravity: 0.998-1.015
ABV: 2.8-6.0%
IBUs: 8-30
SRM (malt color): 2-8

Examples:
Light American Lagers:
Bitburger Light, Sam Adams Light, Heineken Premium Light, Miller Lite, Bud Light, Coors Light, Baltika #1 Light, Old Milwaukee Light, Amstel Light
American Lagers: Pabst Blue Ribbon, Miller High Life, Budweiser, Baltika #3 Classic, Kirin Lager, Grain Belt Premium Lager, Molson Golden, Labatt Blue, Coors Original, Foster’s Lager
Premium American Lagers: Full Sail Session Premium Lager, Miller Genuine Draft, Corona Extra, Michelob, Coors Extra Gold, Birra Moretti, Heineken, Beck’s, Stella Artois, Red Stripe, Singha
Munich Helles: Weihenstephaner Original, Hacker-Pschorr Münchner Gold, Bürgerbräu Wolznacher Hell Naturtrüb, Mahr’s Hell, Paulaner Premium Lager, Spaten Premium Lager, Stoudt’s Gold Lager
Dortmunder Export: DAB Export, Dortmunder Union Export, Dortmunder Kronen, Ayinger Jahrhundert, Great Lakes Dortmunder Gold, Barrel House Duveneck’s Dortmunder, Bell’s Lager, Dominion Lager, Gordon Biersch Golden Export, Flensburger Gold

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