Thursday, 11 September 2014

Learning to love lager

Occasionally there’s an outbreak of ecumenicalism amongst my fellow beer nerds, and exhortations to appreciate beer in all its forms. “Bollocks to that” is my usual response. I prefer some types of beer to others and I don’t see why I should drink the ones I don’t like just because they also happen to be beer.

But I’ve been forced to accept this has left gaps in my beer knowledge. When I was in a beer tasting competition last year it became clear that I wasn’t that good at spotting different lager styles. So like a general re-fighting his last battle I stocked up on a selection of different lagers to taste before the competition this year.

This year's competition

I have started to get better at spotting lager styles, and though I still have a long way to go we won the competition again and my new knowledge was of some help. Though not as much as it could have been - it's hard to decide which way to jump when blind tasting. Lagers and ales I can now separate not just on the unpleasant vegetal DMS content of many lagers, but also on the general lack of aroma of lagers compared to ales, due to their low ester levels from unnaturally cold fermentation. I know Pilsners should have noticeable hop bitterness, but Helles don’t (which makes them particularly dull beers but I digress). Bocks and Dobblebocks I could have a reasonable chance at identifying as they’re like strong ales but with less aroma.

Victory again


But what about the rest? Are there any top tips on telling a Czech pilsner from a German one? What classic beers or styles do I really need to get to grips with? Come to think of it I need to work on kölsch too, any others? Anyway, suggestions welcome.

10 comments:

  1. the best way to learn to love lager is to force yourself. Buy a big slab and force your way through it. Can after can of nowt but Fosters.

    Years ago I could only drink craft beer but I forced myself to love the lout and now can't get enough of it.

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    1. You're a martyr to the cause cookie.

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  2. There's plenty of it. Dunkles, Kellerbier, Schwarzbier, Baltic Porter, Desítka, Polotmavé Pivo, Světlý Ležák (the only PIlsner here is Urquell), Vienna Lager, Märzen, Zoigl, Rauchbier. It's a whole world of beauty, but, as Beervana said in his last post, you need to come over here to get to know it.

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    1. I might well be back in Prague next year, I'll be sure to get some reserach

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    2. Let me know when you come. I'll help you out with the research

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    3. Excellent, I'll keep you posted.

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  3. I don't really like pale lager much either. Dark lager in one of its incarnations is the way forward, that's usually got a bit of taste to it.

    Pilsner Urquell is ok, you can taste the Saaz. Its the only (pale) lager I've had that doesn't just taste like every other lager.

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    1. Funny you should say that, Pilsner Urquell was the only pale lager I ever liked, and though I thought it went down hill after the take over I enjoyed the last bottle I had.

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  4. I can't remember if you've been to Cologne. If not, it's well worth a visit. Great city in its own right, but also with a proper pub culture, and drinking it there is the best way for Koelsch to 'click'.

    In a blind taste taste, though, I can't imagine I'd be able to tell you which country a specific lager had come from. The styles have rather converged.

    To generalise very broadly, Czech beer, as drunk in the Czech Republic, we've tended to find 'breadier' and sometimes also fruitier than German.

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  5. I was briefly in Cologne years ago and was underwhelmed by the kölsch. I did have a bottle as part of my training regime but still wasn't taken with it. I found it a bit like Helles but with ale esters. Dare I say it but beers like that are probably better on cask!

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