straw / 2 – 3 SRM
Low / 8 – 12 IBU
Balanced between low hops and low malt
Here it is. The beer that many craft drinkers love to hate. But hear me out on this one…this style is pretty remarkable for a lot of reasons. And hey…there’s a time and a place for every beer, right?
American light lager became extremely popular in the 1970s as an offshoot of the heavier (but not by much) American Standard Lager. It’s interesting that although we think of these beers as the standard bearers of beer blandness that the craft movement is pitted against, the light lager in America didn’t really become the ubiquitous drink it is today until relatively recently. It came into its prime partially because of a successful marketing campaign by Miller who recognized a market in diet-conscious and sports-watching drinkers, but also partially because of the trend in products all over the middle-class marketplace after the second World War. Consumables became homogeneous and industrial, and the beer industry obliged.
Surprisingly, one of the most amazing things about these beers is the quality of their production (no, I haven’t been drinking again…well, yes I have but you read that right). These beers are outrageously difficult to brew exactly because of their simplicity. If one small thing goes wrong from raw grains and hops to you popping (unscrewing) that top, you’re likely to notice, as is everyone else drinking the beer. Even more amazingly, these beers are brewed all over the world with different ingredients, water, brewers, and machines, and they always smell and taste exactly the same.
We’re not ones for judgment here at Black Flannel (I, for one, love to toss back a few of these whenever I make it to Fenway), and if this is your style then more power to you. Though we can’t promise that we’ll always have a light lager on tap, we will be brewing all kinds of flavorful, light, and sessionable beers that we can steer you toward when you come into the pub.
Aroma – Very light malt sweetness that’s sometimes corny. Very little or no hop aroma.
Appearance – Straw.
Flavor – Dry finish, very light in both malt and hops.
Mouthfeel – Crisp, highly carbonated, and very light body.
Vitals – 2.8 – 4.2% ABV, 8 – 12 IBU
Serve fresh in a pint glass as cold as you can
Highly carbonated, very light-bodied, nearly flavorless lager designed to be consumed very cold. Very refreshing and thirst quenching.
Low to no malt aroma, although it can be perceived as grainy, sweet, or corn-like if present. Hop aroma is light to none, with a spicy or floral hop character if present. While a clean fermentation character is desirable, a light amount of yeast character (particularly a light apple fruitiness) is not a fault. Light DMS is not a fault.
Very pale straw to pale yellow color. White, frothy head seldom persists. Very clear.
Relatively neutral palate with a crisp and dry finish and a low to very low grainy or corn-like flavor that might be perceived as sweetness due to the low bitterness. Hop flavor ranges from none to low levels, and can have a floral, spicy, or herbal quality (although rarely strong enough to detect). Low to very low hop bitterness. Balance may vary from slightly malty to slightly bitter, but is relatively close to even. High levels of carbonation may accentuate the crispness of the dry finish. Clean lager fermentation character.
Very light (sometimes watery) body. Very highly carbonated with slight carbonic bite on the tongue.
Designed to appeal to as broad a range of the general public as possible. Strong flavors are a fault.
Coors briefly made a light lager in the early 1940s. Modern versions were first produced by Rheingold in 1967 to appeal to diet-conscious drinkers, but only became popular starting in 1973 after Miller Brewing acquired the recipe and marketed the beer heavily to sports fans with the “tastes great, less filling” campaign. Beers of this genre became the largest sellers in the United States in the 1990s.
Two- or six-row barley with high percentage (up to 40%) of rice or corn as adjuncts. Additional enzymes can further lighten the body and lower carbohydrates.
A lighter-bodied, lower-alcohol, lower calorie version of an American Lager. Less hop character and bitterness than a Leichtbier.
American – Bud Light, Coors Light, Keystone Light, Michelob Light, Miller Lite, Old Milwaukee Light.
Original Gravity (°Plato) 1.024-1.040 (6.1-10 °Plato)
Apparent Extract/Final Gravity (°Plato) 0.992-1.008 (-2.1-2.1 °Plato)
Alcohol by Weight (Volume) 2.8%-4.2% (3.5%-4.4%)
Bitterness (IBU) 4-10
Color SRM (EBC) 1.5-4 (3-8 EBC)
A lighter version of an American Standard Lager. Similar to a German Leichtbier but with less hop and malt character.
Brewers mash this beer very low with plenty of adjunct (usually in the neighborhood or 20-30% of the total grist) to dry out the body significantly. The brewing processes at some of the larger producers of this style are highly controlled, and can often include many additional or unusual steps to ensure uniformity from batch to batch. The cereal grain cooker, for example, is used to boil raw adjuncts–like corn or rice–in order to gelatinize the starches, allowing those starches to be broken down by traditional amylase enzymes when added to the main mash. If this piece of equipment weren’t used by large adjunct brewers, those starches wouldn’t be available to the enzymes and the yeast wouldn’t be able to consume the long-chain starches that remain in suspension. A mash filter press is also used at most industrial breweries, which uses inflatable membranes and fine mesh filters to separate wort from the grains after mashing, replacing the traditional lautering process and greatly improving efficiency (these run from around 98-100% efficiency!). Lastly, most macro breweries aren’t brewing beer at the ABV that it’s packaged. Instead, they brew a much higher gravity beer–sometimes twice the ABV of the finished product–and then cutting that beer with de-aerated water on the packaging line. This allows for tight control of the final ABV of the beer, again in an effort toward efficiency and uniformity.
AT THE BREWPUB: Soft Pretzel and Mustard
TAKEOUT: Veggie street tacos, light on spices
CASUAL DATE: Ballpark hot dogs at Fenway
NEW: Garth Brooks, “I Got Friends in Low Places”, Chris Stapleton
OLD: Zoraida di Granata, by Donizetti
In a highball glass, pour wine and juice lemon and lime directly into the glass without ice. Fill with 8 ounces light lager and garnish with lemon and lime peel.