Grab a Lager and Enjoy the Sunshine

March 16, 2017

Lagers are the Perfect Sunshine Beers

Spring, it seems, has finally sprung.  After a long, cold, and snowy winter, we can all once again emerge from our hibernative state where we consumed mostly scotch ales, stouts, and dunkels, and come back into the world of clean, crisp, and refreshing beers.

If you don’t know what I’m talking about, then read on.  I’ll explain the difference between an ale and a lager, and then fill you in on two perfect lagers for this Saint Patrick’s Day Weekend (and every other sunny weekend until early September).


Ale vs. Lager; What’s the Difference?

You likely know that there are two categories of beer out there: the ales and the lagers.  And you probably are aware of some of the basic taste differences between the two.  There’s a big reason for those differences.

Ale yeasts have been used since before history began.  They were used to create wine, mead, and the earliest forms of beer (which emerged sometime around 7,000 years ago in Mesopotamia).  For the next several thousand years ale yeasts dominated, and through the Middle Ages ale and beer were often used interchangeably.  It wasn’t until the late 15th century that the lager yeast was isolated, and over the next 100 years rapidly made its way across Europe and became highly used in the town of Plzen.  This lead to the invention of the beer we now know as a Pilsner.

But if ales had been around for millennia, why did the lager suddenly pop up around the year 1500AD?  It turns out that the lager yeast cannot survive in Europe on its own.  It is found natively in the Patagonia region of Argentina.  This yeast, adapted to be active at temperatures down into the 30’s, provides a unique twist on the beer brewing process.  Their discovery in Europe coincides with shortly after the New World was found and transatlantic commerce began.

Lagers are fermented at 38 to 50 degrees; temperatures that would cause ale yeast to go dormant.  These lower temperatures lead to cleaner, mellower, and crisper flavors emerging from the beer.  Instead of the fruity notes, and the robust flavors that we often find in ales, we get the nice, clean, and refreshing taste of a lager.  A taste that is well suited for consumption while relaxing in a lawn chair on a hot afternoon.


Two Lagers to Fill your Keg (or Growler)

So where might one find a cool, crisp, and refreshing lager?  Currently there are two such beers on tap at Angry Hanks.

The Dortmunder Lager has a clear, pale golden color.  There’s little smell other than the carbonation emerging from the top.  Each sip is leaves you refreshed and ready for the next sip.  At 5.4% it’s not quite a session beer, but put a glass of water between brews and you could make it one.

The Madhouse Vienna Lager is a tad bit darker in color.  It has a bit of an orangey look too it (but no citrus to be found).  It tastes nearly the same as the Dortmunder, but has a little bit more of a malted grain taste to it.  Also at 5.4% you could get a growler of each, and spend the afternoon alternating between the two.

Choose a Beer You Love

Lagers aren’t your thing?  Don’t worry, Hanks still has the Frost Killer Scotch Ale on tap.  And if we are lucky they will be brewing Dirty Girl Dunkelweizen again over the summer.  Or hop on over to one of the other great breweries that we have in town.

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by scott
Scott is a writer, outdoor enthusiast, beer snob, and woodworker. When he is not out exploring all of the wonders around Billings, he loves to sit down for a frosty brew at one of the many great breweries we have available to us. You can read about most of his adventures, and many of the fine brews he has sipped right here; or contact him through his website if you need some adventure tips.

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