09 February 2009

Announcing Session no. 25: Love Lager

Session logoIt's the world's most popular style of beer and can be found in abundance in almost every corner of the globe. For millions of people the word "beer" denotes a cold, fizzy, yellow drink -- one which is rarely spoken of among those for whom beer is a hobby or, indeed, a way of life.

So for this Session, let's get back to basics. I'm sure I'm not the only one whose early drinking career featured pale lager in abundance, so consider this a return to our roots as beer drinkers. Don't even think about cheating the system: leave your doppelbocks and schwarzbiers out of this one: I want pilsners, light lagers, helleses and those ones that just say "beer" because, well, what else would it be?

I want to know what's so great about them, and what's awful. Are we talking just lawnmowers, barbecues and sun holidays here, or is there a time for some thoughtful considered sipping of a cold fizzy lager?

Actually, scratch that last question: there is. It's on Friday 6th March, at your blog, and leave me a comment here (or e-mail me) when your post is up. Twittarians, remember to include #thesession on your tasting tweets, and we can all watch the results come in here.

To kick things off in completely the opposite direction, I started last weekend with a fancy-pants imported flavoured lager: J.W Dundee's Honey Brown from New York. The title is an apt descriptor -- it really is the clear dark golden amber of actual honey. I was surprised by the grassy nose, much more like your average sort of German pilsner. On the palate there's a little bit of residual sweetness, but that could just as easily have come from some diacetyl as the honey. Otherwise it's a light, fizzy, refreshing nondescript sort of beer. Actually, just the sort of thing I'm expecting for this Session.

Look, I didn't say it was going to be fun or interesting. Just get out there and have what the next guy's having.


  1. Trouble with lager these days is that the brewers have to make them suitable for mainstream consumption.
    I actually started on bitter way back when... drinking in old country pub around Essex. I remember the Hoop in Stock with fond delight, necking 3 pints of Owd Rodger before falling into the fire!
    Anyway, we HAD to resort to lager drinking since most pubs were incapable of keeping a good ale and went for the much easier and robust barrels of mainstream lager.

    For something light and palatable you simply cannot beat a good light summer ale!

  2. The question I'd like to explore includes the phrase "suitable for mainstream consumption", and why it's used pejoratively.

  3. I never understand why the word lager is treated with general contempt in some quarters. It's not like all lagerbiers are mass-produced muck, although many are yellow and fizzy. Mmmm. Then again, living in Lagerland I don't have as many options.

    Although it's a pity you want to leave out the bocks and schwarzbiers from the consideration :D

  4. This is definitely not about fancy lagers. This is about, for want of a better phrase, a pint of plain.

    Now off you go to buy some lovely Warsteiner.

  5. Excellent topic. I realize that I can't say that without seeming sarcastic but you are bringing it all home with this one and forcing a question. I am looking forward to the collective wisdom and admission, something that a topic like "my favorite beer memory" or "what's your favorite colour of beer" could never capture.

  6. Thank you Alan. All I'll say is that reading some of the barbs you've directed at previous Session topics certainly helps focus the mind.

  7. One has a role. One has a purpose.

  8. So does a 10 degree Czech pale lager qualify? Budvar? Mostly curiosity because I'm figuring I will be contemplating a sub 4% abv German hell leicht.

  9. Yes, as one of those taken-for-granted, this-is-what-beer-means-here sort of lagers, I reckon it counts.

    As long as you've lived most of your life in České Budějovice, of course :P

  10. Great topic. I like the restrictions; it'll keep things focused.

  11. So, just to clarify, it must be common, get it anywhere lager (in your jurisdiction of course) to qualify? So, for me the Warsteiners, Veltins, Becks, Brinkhoffs and Pinkus Müller kinds of pils or lagers? ;)

    What do you define as a fancy lager? One man's fancy might be another man's pint of plain, if you're really lucky! :D

    I might be tempted by this session...

  12. A fancy lager is one which says something other than "beer" on the label :P

    I'm guessing such things don't exist in your neck of the woods so I'll direct you towards those that call themselves pils or helles. But they have to be ones that the ordinary, conservative, bloke-down-the-pub drinks regularly.

    How about a quick straw poll at the office?

  13. Actually, I think the ones I mentioned, plus Krombacher, are the mainstays. At least they are the ones that always feature at the office partys. Apart from the Pinkus unfortunately. But yes, an office poll would provide an interesting perspective! I've been meaning to do a beer survey here anway...

  14. Is that the Irish Warsteiner beernut?

  15. Not in Germany, I'd say. War∫teiner rather than Warsteiner.

  16. hmmmmm, I think I might participate. I can educate everyone on VB